Tonight, Ryan Tedder moves to the artist seat to find a hit for his band, OneRepublic. In his place as a mentor/producer is Jason Evigan, the hitmaker behind Maroon 5’s “What Lovers Do” and “Girls Like You,” Demi Lovato’s “Heart Attack,” and Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty.”
Here’s how it all went down on the Songland finale!
To kick off the night, we have JT Roach, a singer-songwriter born in Madison, Wisconsin to an Irish-Catholic family. While JT is an indie-folk artist himself, he has written for acts like Jason Derulo and Krewella. He quit his job to pursue music and hopes this will be his big break.
JT’s song, “Somebody to Love,” is a heartbreak song. And he does the song justice with his performance! It is chill, with lyrics about someone he loved finding another love interest, but has some oomph in the chorus. His smooth falsetto and the catchy melody stand out as well. OneRepublic says “wow…that’s powerful” right after his performance. Ryan Tedder says it’s “familiar in the best way” and even sings the tune himself. Is it too soon to say this is the winner? Cause it’s seeming like that’s the case here. JT will be working with Shane McAnally and it’s their competition to lose.
Second to perform was MADI (who has now stylized her name to Maedi on Instagram). Her actual name is Madison Yanofsky and she is a 26-year-old singer-songwriter from Burlington, Vermont. She is now based in LA and works as a waitress.
Her song, “Darkest Days,” is about loneliness. MADI’s voice is beautiful and I’m instantly hearing this as an EDM track with her as the featured artist. Ryan says he loves the melody but Jason wants the post-chorus to become a big “moment” so he can feel more pain. It sounds like OneRepublic wants to make this either more dance-y or more sad too, since it’s riding somewhere between the two. MADI was paired with Ester Dean, who is the perfect producer to re-work this song.
Tyler James Bellinger
Jersey singer-songwriter, Tyler James Bellinger, was up next. He works part time at his dad’s paving company. Tyler wrote his song, “Giving You Up,” for his partner. The lyrics are about not giving up on a loved one, despite their imperfections. Tyler is a SINGER! He hits some crazy falsetto notes in this performance. A lot of the initial conversation is about whether the song’s range is even fitting for Ryan Tedder. I mean honestly, who can hit those notes? Shane says he has an “incredible melody and concept.” But this was just a consolation because Tyler was not chosen to work with a producer.
Last to perform her original song on the Songland finale was Brigetta Truitt. Brigetta is a 20-year-old singer-songwriter from Auburndale, Florida. She signed her first publishing deal at 19 after leaving high school when she was 16 to pursue songwriting in Nashville. Brigetta has written “thousands” of songs since! “Be Somebody” is about finding your place in the music industry. It is an honest song, but not exactly relatable for OneRepublic. Her melody was the standout for me and Ryan says he “could hear himself singing this.” Brigetta was paired with newcomer Jason Evigan.
MADI (with Ester Dean)
Ester starts off her songwriting session with MADI by FaceTiming Ryan Tedder, who wants to make her song into a dance hit. They give the background a stronger beat, add some production, and lower the song’s pitch. To them, it sounds like a OneRepublic hit now! When she performs it a second time, the song is a lot more repetitive. I like what they did to some parts of it but the song as a whole lost its personality in my opinion. This seemed like a generic dance song more than the anthem about loneliness she originally had written. But Ryan said he’s a “huge fan of happy-sad” and that he was “instantly drawn to the chorus.”
JT Roach (with Shane McAnally)
In typical Shane fashion, his first critique is the lyrics of the song. He wants to hear JT’s story more, making it relatable to Ryan Tedder and OneRepublic. Other than that, they seem pretty happy with the song. For some reason, as soon as his second performance started, JT just sounded like Ryan Tedder. It happened to some extent in the original, but this one especially just screamed OneRepublic to me. Keeping the chorus and melody the same were crucial here, since it was already such a favorite. Ryan says the song is “gut-wrenching” and shares a story about witnessing divorces and brokenness in a relationship. He then sings the song basically perfectly. Yeah, this is still the front-runner by a long shot.
Brigetta (with Jason Evigan)
Jason wanted to make Brigetta’s song darker. They also change the lyrics from being about making a name for yourself to a love song. Brigetta isn’t loving the complete overhaul, but she trusts Jason and warms up to it when he adds some more urban-sounding guitar and drums. I like what Jason is doing here! In her second performance, the last of the Songland finale, the song sounds completely different but in the best way. Ryan is even singing along with the choral harmonies in the chorus. All the producers compliment the new lyrics too.
OneRepublic’s Next Single is…
At the end of the performances, Ryan Tedder and his bandmate had a big decision to make. This is the Songland finale after all! But they ended up choosing…“Somebody to Love” by JT Roach! Definitely no surprises here, that song was #1 from the beginning and Shane only made it better.
Here is OneRepublic’s first live performance of the song, from Red Rocks Amphitheater.
That’s it for season one of Songland! And what an epic finale it was with OneRepublic. If you want to listen to their new song, “Somebody to Love,” the single is available on YouTube and everywhere you stream music.
Now, we just can’t wait for Songland to return for season two! In the meantime though, we have 11 new jams to keep us occupied.