Cast Blog: #PLATINUMHIT

I Get Chills

Hip Hip Sonyae!

Default image

The Write Girl

Sonyae Elise: Platinum Hitmaker

Sticking With You

Dare to Suck

DJ Have My Babies

It's Poppin'

I Like The Way You Move

On Pause

The Exorcist

Reign Over Me

Nice Guys Finish Last

When Egos Collide

The Word is Hubris

Like a Tohn of Bricks

A Safe Bet

Sincerely Yours

10 Things I Love About You

All You Need Is Love

Dr. Jekyll and Melissa Hyde

Lovin' It

Not Hot

Clever Girl

Rap Battles

Join the Love-Fest

The Weakest Link

Speak And Spell

A Place of Truth

Straight to the Vein

Panic at the Disco

Keep It Simple Stupid

Sicker Than the Remix

Get Loose

Setting the Bar

30 Minutes or Less

I Write the Songs

On the Hook

You Only Got One Second to Save the Song

I Get Chills

Keith Naftaly explains how he can spot a hit and what he thought of this challenge.

Hey whatsup it's Keith from RCA/JIVE A&R! I'm psyched to have joined Platinum Hit as a judge on what I feel was a pretty kickass episode.

A couple of quick facts about me. . .First and foremost I am incredibly passionate about music and have earned the reputation for having what's known as "great ears". . .the ability to identify and/or help build hit songs, whether it was programming a musically innovative Top 40 radio station in San Francisco back in the day, or, for the last zillion years, as a record executive, finding hit songs for superstar artists.

We can certainly break down what most say comprises a hit song -- a killer melody, compelling lyrics, something that's super-catchy and "sticky," but for me there's something more. Don't laugh. . .it's a physical feeling of euphoria that rushes through my body, often resulting in chills or goosebumps. Cheesy, but true. And I am incredibly blessed that I've been able to build a fulfilling career around this unique feeling.

I believe that what I add to the panel is a slight reality check. I'm not listening with the ears of an iconic singer/songwriter like Jewel, or a mega-successful songwriter/entrepreneur like Kara. I'm offering the perspective of a regular "record guy" who listens to hundreds of song demos per week, from the hottest songwriters and producers in the world, in the hopes of finding the next smash single for anyone from Usher to Britney Spears; Kelly Clarkson to Jennifer Hudson. And let me tell you, that process defines the cliché "needle in a haystack."

Not having any significant on-camera experience I was kind of a nervous wreck going into this episode. (Not that you'd notice, but I am physically shaking right after Natasha sits down.) Speaking of Natasha Bedingfield, I was so relieved to find out she was the guest judge because (a) she is completely down-to-earth, bright, and talented and (b) I was her A&R for both the "Unwritten" and "Pocketful Of Sunshine" U.S. albums, and we had a blast making those albums. So thankfully her presence had a total calming effect on me, and we got right to work.

Oh, also please factor in that I had zero exposure to any of the hook challenges or behind-the-scenes shenanigans, so I had no idea at the time that Nick was, um, egomaniacal, or that Sonyae had diva tendencies, or that Johnny and Jes were hooking up. So by design, I was appraising the songs completely objectively, just like I would at the office or on my laptop at home. I can't lie. . .I was pretty skeptical about the notion of up-and-coming songwriters serving up something compelling surrounding a very specific challenge in such the short period of time, when the odds of A-list songwriters delivering smashes in "real life" are so tough. That said, I was pleasantly surprised, relieved, and, OK, STUNNED by what they all came up with in this episode.

Jackie's team was first up and though the song was just average to me, it was catchy enough and professional sounding. . .nothing overly special, but decent.

Next up was Jes and all I could think of was, damn, she sounds exactly like Sara Bareilles. What a cool voice. "But this is a songwriting competition," I kept reminding myself as she was singing her heart out wistfully. . ."focus on the song!" At the time I felt it was meandering and sleepy (though admittedly my co-judges "got it" right away). But I have to admit that it's really grown on me and sounds pretty damn amazing as a finished, produced recording.

Finally, Johnny's team performed. Go watch the full version online so you can see exactly what we saw. Better yet, buy the fully produced song on iTunes! Their performance was so on point and that song. . .well that is my s--t right there. There's some exceptionally clever wordplay that knocked me out, not to mention the killer melody and tight harmonies. "Where I Need To Be" = big winner!

There was an article in the NY Post a couple days back saying that Platinum Hit finally hit its stride this week and I have to agree. Everything kinda clicked on this episode, and though the energy on-set had the tension of a true competition, at the same time the vibe was very chill and really fun.

Thanks SO MUCH for watching the show...we're getting into a groove now and there are some killer episodes and unexpected surprises up ahead, not to mention some excellent music!

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!