Dare to Suck

Kara shares why songwriters have to take risks -- and know when to pull back.

Part of the fun of watching the full episodes of Platinum Hit has been seeing the hook challenges. Since I wasn't always involved in judging them, it's always a surprise to find out how a hook came to be. This week I was a little scared for the contestants when I heard the choruses they wrote. I felt like I was back in week two or three.

The hard part about being a writer is having to look in the mirror (after you've created something you think is the bomb) and tell yourself the hard truth. At the same time, you have to dare to suck in order to get to the good stuff. Nick and Scotty were very smart to rework their ideas. I agreed with Perez and Jewel that Scotty's melody was very good but the title, "DJ Have My Babies" was pretty out there. Then again, I don't go to the clubs so there may be some hot DJs I don't know about.

I loved making a surprise visit to Jes, Scotty, Sonyae, and Nick. It was very true to life as music executives always pop in on sessions and make comments or suggestions. Sometimes it can throw you off, but that's where your conviction as a songwriter comes into play. I was happy to see that they followed their hearts and ended up going down the right path. I will also never wear red lipstick again. Not a good look. . .

Going back to high school was a trip. I went to an all girls' high school where we basically rolled out of bed to get to class not caring what we looked like. These girls were definitely more stylish. You could immediately tell which songs they were feeling. The girls gravitated towards the "Exit" song and with good reason. Sonyae knows how to communicate what teenagers are feeling. We've all known people that we wanted to point to the exit sign, whether that be at a club, a high school, or even at an office building.

I loved Scotty's final hook melody, especially the "DJ make me crazy" part. He really has shown a tremendous amount of growth. Jes also had a strong melodic song but I couldn't see it being a breakout Top-40 smash because it felt so young.

And then there's Nick. . .he has definitely made the show entertaining. He is such a character and some of his one-liners have cracked me the hell up. This week we finally got to see some real emotion from him. He wore his heart on his sleeve, which is why it was particularly heartbreaking to see him go. He finally did what we wanted him to do all along. I hope he continues to access his truth/heart and put it into his music. If he does, he may just write that smash after all. I'm rooting for him!

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The Write Girl

Kara explains why Sonyae was the winner and what each songwriter brought to the final challenge.

First off, I am so proud of the growth that Sonyae, Scotty, and Jes made over the course of the show. If I were in their shoes starting out, I don't know if I would have been able to take the pressure of the episode challenges. This was a writing boot camp and the strongest (with the exception of Johnny) definitely survived. Their diligence, team work, and commitment to learning is what landed them in the final three. Their songs were fantastic this week, and I believe they all have careers ahead of them in music.

The Winner ---- When we first met Sonyae, we knew she had a gift for lyrics and concepts, which is one of today's most important components to hit songs. But, she was seemingly at a disadvantage because she didn't play an instrument and I wasn't sure how that would translate during the course of the competition. Thankfully we began to see that Sonyae is musical. She knows what chords fit her melodies and that's why she was able to win this competition. Many topliners don't play an instrument but they are responsible for some of the biggest hits out there today. Their voices are their instrument and they sing what they feel and hear in their heads. Her melodies always came from an emotional place and I think that is why she really impressed us as well. She consistently delivered week to week. She would be an asset in any room of writers in any genre. For me, she is a force to be reckoned with and I think we will be seeing a Sonyae song on an album any day now.

And then there's Scotty who was stuck in adult contemporary ballad land when we first met him. During the course of the show, he figured out how to make more contemporary tracks and teamed up with people that pushed him to be younger, more rhythmic, and hipper. His melodic sensibility was always there, he just needed to put it on top of modern tracks. He also started scrutinizing his lyrics more during the season and that culminated in his best work, "Beautiful You." That song is a great personal anthem and I want to commend him for really speaking about such an emotional and personal subject and yet making it so universal.

Lastly Jes, a singer-songwriter with a beautiful voice and passion for writing. When she first started out she would often get lost in her own piano world. Her songs were very niche and her melodies (while lovely) fit her voice more than they did the voices of other artists. Over the competition, she really learned how to condense her songs and make every part of them meaningful. She too has a gift for emotion in her melodies and by the end of the season was writing lyrics that could match the power of her music. "Come Alive" was a brilliant melodic piece of work.

I found it very interesting that all three contestants pulled from their own life stories when they were faced with creating the biggest hit of their lives. We encouraged them from the beginning to always come from an honest place. I don't think it's a coincidence that these were some of their strongest songs. Great writers will tell you their best material came from their real life experiences -- that's the inspiration part of a song, which is so crucial to making it great. The other part is craft, which we spent a lot of time discussing on the show. Hopefully all the contestants feel they are better writers because of the show. If they do, then we all did our jobs.

Good luck to them all. We are rooting for 'em!

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