When I first heard that the contestants would have to rap for their hook challenge, I thought to myself. . .WEIRD.
I don't really see any of them writing hit rap songs for a living. But if you think about it, many of today's big rappers like Lil Wayne and T.I. are responsible for huge pop songs. I also think this generation of songwriters has been influenced by rap as it has become more mainstream -- that's why the songs today are so conceptual. Rap has definitely influenced storytelling in modern day mainstream music. However, it was a bit strange (and funny) to see Johnny and Jackie's rap moves :)
Breaking out of your comfort zone is a useful exercise in writing and in life. Ultimately I thought the contestants did a good job, but Jackie's song failed because it lacked any real truth; it was unrelatable. I think you can be funny but still deep and universal. She needed to tell us why she wanted to be a "Super Duper Rapper" and her motivation should have come from a real life experience. The other two songs were rooted in emotion and truth and that's why they excelled. I also loved the melody of "Walk Through Walls" (that was Scotty's) and thought incorporating opera was a brilliant move.
It was tough to watch some of the contestants bash each other on this episode. I don't like to see people cry or have their character attacked. When we filmed the episode, Jewel and I had no idea what was really happening behind the scenes. These types of actions definitely color and affect your perception of a person. I am glad I was unaware at the time as I probably would have been swayed toward and against certain contestants. This is the part of the show that does not emulate real life -- if people don't get along, they just don't work together again. The contestants should take a lesson from Jes and Johnny, it seems a love-fest produces a better result.