Jewel

Jewel discusses how pride comes before the fall and what she learned watching the Nick/Johnny co-write unfold.

on Jul 15, 2011

Writing for a specific artist is fun and helps the writing process by giving a specific goal and framework to work within. The mission becomes clear: study your target -- how they sing, what they have already said, what they have left to say, and what their vocal range is -- then write to showcase their range and talents. Look to where you feel new ground is for them, while still being true to who that artist is. Scotty had a point when he said Bieber would be 18 by the time the song would ever get cut, and so letting the lyric grow up a bit as well is a good instinct. It was a solid song; however, it was a bit of a Bieber imitation instead of breaking new musical ground and so it won second. You could definitely hear it on a Bieber record for sure, but not necessarily as a first single burning up the charts of a new album. That song would have to really stand out, sound new, and break ground.

Sonyae and Brian's song was pretty solid. I still feel her structure could use some help and the melody could have a bit more range. I have had the pleasure of singing and performing with Beyonce, and I can tell you she is even more talented when you see her in person. She has a great voice with a bigger range than her songs usually allow for, and if she ever cut a song with a big range I know she would kill it. She is so talented. A mid-tempo ballad would be a great platform for this type of standout performance, and as usual Sonyae's lyrical instinct is so strong it makes you sit up and think and also makes up (for now) for the fact that her structure could use work. She did a great job. If she can fine-tune that song's structure and build the melody to a climax, it is a very pitchable and radio-ready song.

OK, back to the elephant in the room -- the upset of the season so far! Let's be honest, we have always known Nick is a bit of a jerk. He is arrogant, but in such a way that smacks of past hurt and insecurity, and I think it's pretty easy to see through, though no fun to live with. Do you guys agree? Johnny's hubris was surprising. Last week when I watched Episode 6, I suspected he might be headed down a bad road, but I hoped not. My worst fears were confirmed this week. When we filmed, I was caught so off guard by the dynamic that unfolded on the elimination panel. We saw none of the co-writing session, so it was his word against Nick's. It was very hard to sort out. It was hard to believe Johnny would take such a risk as to write a bad song on purpose, counting on his good record to save him and to send his co-writer home. It was also hard for us to believe Nick would simply not contribute. We had heard from every contestant that Nick was surprisingly easy to write with, that he always put his differences aside and got to business. He is also desperate to win this. He wants it bad, and it was hard to believe he would put himself in a position to be eliminated by not giving it his best. Songwriting is the only thing he seems to care about. It did not add up that he would willingly be shut out. This is the worst song Johnny wrote, and I don’t know why. I don’t know if it was on purpose or if on his own he lacked some needed direction and some soul that was needed to hit his mark of writing for Gavin DeGraw.

Back when we filmed this, we judges did our best to sort it out and came to the hard conclusion that Johnny, for whatever reason, faltered and delivered a bad song, and we felt he most likely did shut Nick out. We had to judge Johnny for this song's merit and not for his track record. He certainly had delivered on a consistent basis more than Nick had. He was a real frontrunner but we couldn't take any of that into consideration. This is a competition where you are judged song-to-song, challenge-to-challenge.