Speak And Spell

Bravotv.com's Editors muse about the importance of spelling and the length of songwriting sessions.

Life is like a box of songwriting sessions -- sometimes you're in it, sometimes you're also in it.

That seems to be the lesson Kara DioGuardi was telling us this week. When you're talking ish about your fellow contestant, when you're in the back of van en route to the motel, when you're holding hands with your fellow contestants -- you're in the songwriting session.

Number 1 Word That Inspires Road Trips

This week Kara and Jewel arrive to challenge the gang to write hooks inspired by the open road. Travel! Think about all the great art inspired by travel, from Kerouac toHostel you can find whatever you genre you choose in the open road.

So when the songwriters get key words to inspire them things should have been easy.

Except for tires. . . how is Nick supposed to write a song about tires? Nick gets tires and is really not pleased. Ourselves, we'd take this opportunity to write an update of Journey's "Wheel in the Sky," called "Tires in the SKy" but he refrained.

Personally, there were a lot of other road trip words we were surprised weren't in the mix: gas station, lost, extra socks, really lost, road bingo, beef jerky, rest station. . . .etc.

Besides the analogies hidden in wheels, something else was vexing Nick. It seems Jackie Tohn's emotional inspirations where a little too in-depth for his liking. Thus when she began the process of talking about how her perfect her inspiration word was he had to (had to) make giant "wrap it up gestures" as though she was the accepting the foreign director award at the Oscars (those people are always rushed).

Kara, having eyes, noticed and called Nick out. Saying he was currently in a songwriting session and considering his goon behavior she probably wouldn't work with him again. Surprisingly later in the episode Nick gets his his business together and actually writes with Jackie without turning very loud violin music over her while she's listing important people to thank, so at maybe he listened. . .Number 1 Cause of Car Sickness With a Bullet

The gang then hits the open road to polish their tunes. Though they will eventually be stopped and have time to write while not in motion everyone gets right to it in the car -- including Jes who puts her keyboard in the backseat -- spanning the entire backseat.

Essentially the keyboard is now functioning as a second seat belt so I think it's actually safety-wise preferable, but I cannot think of a quicker way to make oneself car sick than penning a song while actually pinned into your seat by the ivories. Her team should get bonus points for writing under such duress. I can't even begin to enunciate how carsick this would make your editors. We kept a bag close-by during this entire scene, just in case.

Number Won One Speller

Oh man, do we love Melissa. Melissa could be our generation's Joni Mitchell. Each stanza she creates is a watercolor of bliss. What more delights can she give to us. "Wine covered hills"? Incorporating altitudinal changes into her song? Why won't the gang listen to her. She's a Stanford grad! She knows how to spell. Don't silence her voice. There is far too much imagery the world needs to know.

Number 1 at Holding Hands

Oh snap, did someone want a love song because you're getting one! Look at Jes and Johnny making adorable music together! By music, we just mean hand-holding and dramatically sliding down doors after talking to each other, but still. This is only the beginning of their cuteness, we hope. She's got a little Jenny Lewis-y vibe going so perhaps they can Rilo Kiley it up together -- or Jenny and Johnny actually, since that's a band that's still together.

Number 2 John Mayer Song

Your Bravotv.com editors love Johnny (editor, really just Kim), so when he blew the roof off of the hook competition with "Going To Where I Need To Be" we (she) were (was) thrilled.

The final version was wonderful -- perhaps you would even call it a "wonderland" of a road-trip song. Yup, "wonderland" because it was exceptionally John Mayer-esque.

Thankfully the sound was the only thing Johnny (another coincidence) swiped from Mr. Mayer and not the strained facial expressions. No one wants to see that as a performance trend.

In the end Jackie's gang didn't live up to their hook. Nicks greatest contribution, a sweet little riff was buried amongst goofy lyrics about not believing in losing sleep, as though it was Santa, drug the song down. And after Jackie mentioned Karen was maybe a little useless (while still holding her hand in solidarity, of course) it was Ms. Country Club that headed home. Adios Karen, we'll miss your "Southern spice."

Next week the gang is writing rhymes for "Darkchild" (Nana -- it's impossible to say without thinking of the "Say My Name" shoutout) Randy Jerkins. This could get awkward

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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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