How did you like hearing everyone's first solo-written song? I loved it!
The "Queen of Media" Perez Hilton stopped by to help with this week's challenge -- POP music.
I met Perez when I was promoting my pop album, "0304," and was impressed with how much he obviously loved music. He told me he had been to a bar show of mine way back when I was just starting out and he was just 16. Small world! His love for all things music is contagious. He loves all kinds of music, but he is unabashedly a pop fan.
Personally, I was slow to come to pop music. I didn't know I was writing pop music when I started out, and when someone suggested "You Were Meant For Me" and "Foolish Games" were pop songs, I cringed with a feeling of failure. I thought pop music was dumb, as I tended to listen to John Prine, Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, and Merle Haggard types of writing. I had no idea that all the cover songs I grew up singing in bars with my dad, since age 8, were pop songs: "Brown Eyed Girl," "Heartbreak Hotel," "Takin' It Easy," and "Help Me Make It Through the Night." Pop simply meant a great melody and a streamlined concept. I guess, though I never listened to Madonna as a child, (that crush developed much later for me!) pop music slipped into my head through all the songs my dad and I sang and found its way into my music -- and what a blessing that was. Pop is a wide open format that includes everything from Elvis to Roy Orbison. And today's pop charts include everything from Nickleback to Eminem to Selena Gomez.
It was fun to let the high school kids judge the wining song. It must have felt pretty good to Sonyae to see all of them pointing to the exit and making their own little dance move on the first listen. That's huge. Tapping into a concept that's immediately digestible is so difficult, and that's what's great about writing pop music -- it's simplicity is deceiving, making it sound simple and obvious on the first listen is the hardest part of the craft.
I thought all the writers began to come into their own on this show. They all showed a lot of growth from the first episode.
This was a judging panel that lasted into the wee hours of the morning, as we disagreed about who should be sent home. That's the beauty of art -– it's not a science. It's completely subjective, and there is sometimes no wrong answer -– just a difference of taste.
I really thought Nick deserved to stay. His song hit home for me and he finally delivered what we had been harping on him for the entire show. It was honest. It was universal, and I could see more bands cutting it than I could Jes'. I even thought his melody was strong. That's why you don't see me saying much on his elimination. It was hard for me to punish him for doing all the right things. It was a toss-up. But Jes' song was good too. She is starting to come on strong as the competition goes on, and I have to admire her can-do attitude. She knows the others look down on her, and yet she digs in and smiles and writes. You gotta admire that. She has a lovely voice and sells her songs well because she is appealing to listen to. We try to listen through that as judges and just hear the song, and that's where I still wonder who would cut the song she wrote besides herself. . .but she couldn't pick a better time to be turning on, and time will tell who the best writer is on the show. Right now, it's anybody's game.
That's all for now; only one episode left. Let me know your thoughts on Twitter (@jeweljk) or on the comments here.