The Weakest Link

Hip Hip Sonyae!

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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

I Get Chills

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

The Weakest Link

Jewel laments this week's elimination and Jackie's work style.

Hi all!

In early episodes, Johnny said he felt underrated. The best remedy for that? Proving people wrong by coming up with the goods -- and that is just what Johnny did in Episode 3, and now again in Episode 4, writing in a genre foreign to him -- rap.

This was a tough challenge and I was really impressed with how all the contestants stepped up to the plate for their hook challenges. I relied heavily on our expert guest judge, Rodney Jerkins, and it was fun getting his take on who he felt should win the hook challenge.

When it came time to pick teams, this episode I began to see some strategy take place. I definitely saw the hook winners pick people based on their strengths -- like Sonyae putting her feelings aside and using Nick for his strength as a rock guy, so she could fulfill the second challenge of incorporating a different genre of music into the rap.

But I also saw a new strategy emerge -- I think people started to pick what they considered weak members for their team, as an insurance policy in case their song came in last, in the hopes that the weak person would be the one to go instead of them. I can't know for sure, but I think this is also why Sonyae picked Melissa over Amber. Who knows? What do you guys think?

I know Melissa can be wacky, but I like her and feel her ideas are from a unique perspective -- just very unformed. If someone with lyrical talent and more mainstream sensibilities would take her seriously, they could ground some zany ideas into something original. However, it doesn't seem like anyone is at a place where they feel they can take the time to do that with her yet, which is understandable. I know everyone is very focused on keeping themselves alive on the show, and rightly so.

Despite Melissa's kooky personality, the team came up with a solid song. Nick and Sonyae were both able to be willful, be heard, but also accept other ideas if they were better than their own for the good of the song. That attitude paid off. Here is where the song lacked: structure. I loved her song. I loved her rap. I loved her concept. Like Keith said, this is where we began to be a fan of Sonyae's. Her lyrics are solid, original, and based on personal experience. You believe what she's saying. However, she is not as strong when it comes to song structure, and as you heard, there were three different sections to their song, which can work on a song like "Teenage Dream," but here it was not as clearly defined. That's the only reason she came in second, and I know coming in second in her own preferred genre hurt. I hope she was able to get the message that she needs to work on song structure: verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus. A writer does not have to follow these rules -- but if they don't, the hooks and sections have to be so solid and clear that the listener isn't confused as to where the hook is.

Johnny, Scotty, and Jes made a good team as well. Scotty has a solid music background and was a smart choice for Johnny because the track and musical bed were crucial to pulling this song off. I loved Scotty's opera theme mixed in with the rap, as it added to the drama and the supernatural ghostly theme. It was hard to tell what Jes did lyrically for the song, but her voice did help sell the opera theme in the chorus.

Jackie was a winner in the hook challenge because Rodney and I liked her originality and felt that if she could take that humor the direction of Missy Elliot or other rappers who used humor, it could be a big win. No one else seemed to agree with us. It seems every other contestant hated her song and dreaded being picked for her team. In Amber's case, it seemed she actually channeled a real superpower of her own in the form of a supernatural premonition -- she really dreaded being picked for her team.

Jackie's song made me laugh. Don't get me wrong -- all of us judges enjoyed it, but the writers went further into the spoof and campy nature of the song, instead of figuring out how to make it more mainstream or even deep. Rodney hit the nail on the head -- they didn't add any social commentary at all to give the humorous topic some weight and a sting of truth. He brought up Eminem, who no doubt is a master at walking that delicate line of being funny and creating satire and social commentary at the same time.

I applaud Amber's willingness to jump in. The "canopy bed" line was kitschy and funny, and she totally "went there" with Jackie. The problem was where they went was further down a very narrow lane, in the wrong direction.

This was my least favorite judging session so far. Watching it I kind of cringed listening to myself! I was hard on Jackie because it's the third or fourth time I have seen her come up with a decent starting idea, and then fail to make it into a great idea once she won the hook challenge. I'm a fan of hers, and I really want to see her push herself to the next level. She needs to get her head in the game and realize just because she won the hook challenge doesn't mean she gets to be the boss of the song and dictate where it goes in the writing session. She doesn't know everything. If she did, she wouldn't be on our show; she would already be a hit writer. She really needs to listen more to her co-writers because she does not yet have all the skills necessary to deliver a stand out mainstream song on her own.

It was interesting to watch this episode for me because apparently her fellow contestants feel the same way. It came to a head that they feel she steam rolls them in sessions and doesn't listen to their ideas, and this dynamic works against Jackie. She keeps ending up in the bottom. And sadly, this week Amber paid the price. Had Amber been picked by another team, she would probably still be on the show. I hate seeing that. But we have to judge based on who the weakest link in the group was, and since Jackie at least came up with the winning hook to begin with, Brian did the track, and the worst lines were written by Amber, it was just an unfortunate set of circumstances. I really like Amber and wish she found an opportunity to show us and her teammates what she had. We never got to see her as a writer or what she's capable of, but I hope to see it in the future. It broke my heart to see her leave in tears. She is a lovely, talented girl, and I'm sure this is not the last we have seen of her!

Until next week,

xo Jewel

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!