You Only Got One Second to Save the Song

Two of our Bravo Editors do their own collabo, swapping off recap-writing duties for the first episode.

Music lovers, lend us your ears. Go ahead and press play on our thoughts on the inaugural episode of Platinum Hit presented to you in the form of a Billboard chart.

No. 1 Guest Appearance by a Canine

We begin by meeting our contestants. The band of merry songwriters contains a good range of musicians. There's our alterna-type (Nick has a mohawk and he sings from the nasal), a Rihanna type (Sonyae), an earthy Hawaiian -- but there's one guy that really stood out: Tommy! Personally I think that golden retriever is going to write some delightful ditties. We kid, we kid! He's Blessing's seeing-eye dog, which is great, because we don't want anything impeding Blessing's Stevie Wonder-style cooing. His voice is so sweet!

No. 1 Reissue: "Candle in the Wind"

Oh sweet, Nevin. Nevin has a heart of gold. "I sing for the widow, I sing for the orphan, I sing for the person in this world that doesn’t have much of a voice," says Nevin. But apparently Elton John already sang for those widows and orphans, because his hook for the 30 minute Los Angeles songwriting challenge is eerily close to "Candle in the Wind." It's a pretty unfortunate way to come out of the gate, because what will your future teammates think -- or is it? If he can channel Elton John so easily maybe he's just itching to write a new version of "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road." Let's keep it optimistic! 

The rest of the hooks ran the gamut from understated and mellow to earworm-central. Whether you "Love It or Hate It" you have to admit that Sonyae's song invaded your psyche and set up permanent residence. Or was that just us? We did get a little confused and hungry with Karen's "Southern Spice" metaphor, but that guitar was pretty rocking (literally did you see that bling?!).

Climbing the Elvis Impersonator Charts

Is Brian Judah Elvis? He was conceived the week the king died. Those childhood photos do look they could have been taken at Graceland. And when he shaves there are some "similarities to his face." Let's see what chart position that one shoots up to as our show rolls on.

Top "Rain Man" Alternative

After the hook challenge the gang splits up into teams -- kickball-style (that's Johnny "FFK" Marnell's analogy). The hook challenge winners get to pick their co-writers to create a full song with.

Let's talk for a second about Melissa Rapp. She was chosen last! Why? Her Hawaiian vibe is so delightfully off-kilter. We beseech you to reference these lyrics from her hook "Back to my place on the west side / Open a nice bottle of red wine." Sure, why not? I'll drink your Chai latte as you tune your keyboard (or whatever it was you might have been doing) for an inordinate amount of time and then churn out a smooth, silky verse about going home. Yup, twist! Someone churned out quite the little jam after those ADD moments. We find your "Aloha" vibes relaxing and disorienting. We like. We think.

The rest of the songwriting process was rather smooth. . . except for the Nevin, Brian, and Scotty collabo. When Nevin said Jewel would love a trite lyric because she was a country artist we got a little worried. She wasn't country back in the '90s, Nevin. Don't act like you didn't lock yourself in your bedroom and listen to "Foolish Games" everyday for three weeks (Editor's Note: not that Kim did that).

Most Solo-est Performance

Then came time for the songwriters to perform their would be-hits. And not only were the lovely Jewel and Kara DioGuardi judging, but friend of Bravo -- Jermaine Dupri (Nene Leakes has called him a munchkin and he still loves us). While the first performance had Nick name checking his band ("they've got his back"), Sonyae's "solo" performance instantly topped the ballsy charts. Performing in her signature sunnies (she's worn them twice now), without her band was a sharp contrast and the song had become perhaps even more frantic than her acapella hook performance. Jermaine seemed to think it was more "so so deaf" than "so so def" (big distinction) and took too long.

But the muddled "No One Again" alienated everyone, particularly Jermaine Dupri -- he throws songs out the window (he said "If I'm on my Blackberry and that song is out the window," industry terminology). In the end Nevin's crimes against clichés were most punishable, and he's off down his own Yellow Brick Road to the next endeavor.

And where Hawaii 5-0/Rain Man and her team came from with "City of Dreams?" We're liking Jackie's Sheryl Crow-esque inflections. And we think Johnny's a dreamboat. So here's to that  dream team sticking together.

Next week the dance floor deity Donna Summer graces us with her presence and the gang struggles to write something that's got the suggestiveness of "Love to Love You Baby." Oh brother.

Sonyae Elise: Platinum Hitmaker

Sonyae Elise nabbed the win for Platinum Hit. What's the songwriter up to now? How did you feel when they told you won Platinum Hit?
I felt one step closer to my ultimate goal in life. I felt like I was making good progress. I was happy and grateful and surprised but kind of. . .surprised/not surprised because I was confident in myself all along. But definitely. . .I can't even describe it. It was pretty awesome. The last challenge seemed like it was pretty tricky. You were given this open-ended idea: write the song of your life. What was it like going through that actual process?
I was actually excited because we were given everything I had hoped for in the finale -- because I don't play an instrument, a producer, time (more than four hours), so that was dope, and I was prepared to do or die. Go hard or go home. So I was just focused. Throughout the competition, you were a little different from everyone because you didn't play an instrument. Did you feel like you had to work harder? Did you feel like people maybe underestimated you?
I definitely felt people underestimated me initially, but I worked hard, period, to gain their respect. I wasn't too worried about that. I knew there would come a time if I was given the opportunity to stay, week by week, that my competitors would see my worth, and I was glad, (finally, I don't know what happened) but they started respecting what I do. Everybody plays an instrument, but I can work Pro Tools really well, so aside from having my voice as an instrument, that was also an asset in many of the challenges.

And also, I think that everybody has strengths and weakness, and I think that because I don't play an instrument, I build a strong foundation of lyric and concepts -- and melody as well, because I sing. My lyric and concepts are what I'm known for from this show. I think that were people like Scotty and Brian who were really good at melody because they play instruments, but they kind of lacked what I was strong at, and vice-versa. So, we made a really good team. I think that after a while, people saw that. So, it's cool, you know, you could doubt me in the beginning. See what happens. [Laughter] Over the course of the show, what were some of the challenges that surprised you, or that you thought were maybe the most difficult?
Well, everything was a surprise because we didn't know anything. It was all one big surprise for me. The amount of time we had, the fact that we had to work -- I didn't know what the hell I was getting myself into. Having to cowrite with people you don't know from a can of paint and then having to maintain a level of personal respect for each other just because you have to write with each other. When some people want to be rude, and some people get under your skin, and might be annoying, and you kind have to keep it cool because you have to work with these individuals. What surprised me the most was every challenge that they gave was one big f--king surprise. [Laughter] To tell you the truth. What was your favorite challenge?
The love challenge and the rap challenge were probably my favorites. The love challenge is second nature to me. Being a woman and being emotional, just to be able to express myself is so easy. Music is my therapy, so that was a piece of cake. The rap challenge [I liked] because I was just excited to be able to show the contestants and the judges my other gift -- that I can rap. And I like that song, "Miss Make The Boys Cry." What you would you say was your favorite song that you got a chance to work on during the show?
"Stranger to Love." So, on the other side of the coin, what was your least favorite challenge?
Well, my least favorite week would have to be the first week. I don't know if that would be my least favorite challenge, because I won the first hook challenge, but, it didn't turn out well. It was my least favorite week because I didn't know anybody, and I didn't know how to strategically pick my group so that I could come up with a better end result. That would have to be my least favorite week just because I was like a deer caught in headlights. I didn't have time to adjust first week, but after that I was a little bit more able to gauge what the hell I need to do to get to the next level of the competition. So, the first week was my least favorite week, by far. Hated it. What did you think of the judges over the course of the season? Do you feel like you learned a lot from Kara and Jewel?
Yes. Kara and Jewel are amazing. They helped all of us grow and learn -- I don't think one person would disagree. I love Kara. She's probably my favorite. Because I think we share that kind of. . . you know, she gives the tough love thing, and I think that works best for me. She's the kind of person I am. We definitely identified with each other, someway, somehow. Jewel is a sweetheart. She's a hottie. What did I learn [from her]? I learned a few fashion tips, and some really good stuff in songwriting, I guess. You said that Kara gave you some tough love. Was it ever too tough?
No. I'm not easily offended, and I have really tough skin. I knew that if I took in what they were giving us, took in the lessons without being super-sensitive and offended by them, I knew that I would go far.

You know, in any competition, in life, you have to take the lesson, and make sure you keep a sense of who you are and don't let everything be altered. But also, put stuff in your archive, and as you're building your building of life, take out the tools that you need as you go along. But you have to keep your sense of self. Keep whatever design you wanted for your building, but attack it accordingly with the tools you gained on the way. . .I know I'm being super-metaphorical, it's because I'm a songwriter. [Laughter] I can't help it! Basically, I just love Kara. She was my fave. She would come over when the cameras weren't rolling and say little smart s--t, I just love her. She's sarcastic and fun. It seems like you guys managed to get in a bit of fun amongst everything. Did you have fun with the other contestants?
I had fun with everybody, yes, because I really don't pay people any mind. The one person everyone didn't get along with was Nick, of course. But you know, I really don't give a f--k, because, at the end of the day, you have to be cordial and be able to make a good song. And I think Nick and I proved that no matter what the status of our friendship, or lack thereof, we were able to make a song, and a damn good one.

I do think chemistry is important if you want to continuously make hits though. With Scotty and Brian, our chemistry is we're good friends outside of the competition. Me and Nick went through a lot of stuff. He was really, really disrespectful so. . .I could be around him, and he's apologized and stuff, but it doesn't really matter to me. It is what it is. Nobody got along with him, and I don't not like him, but I don't particularly love him. We're good though. He definitely apologized and whatever. But he definitely apologized when he thought it was helpful to him. So, you know, that's another story. Not to dwell on it.

Who would be my least favorite though? I think my least favorite person -- even though me and Nick didn't get along -- I think Amber is my least favorite person, and my favorite person is Scotty. [Laughter] If you wanted some juice. We always want juice. What song that somebody else wrote was your favorite?
"Betting My Life," with Johnny and Brian is definitely my favorite that I didn't have anything to do with. So what have you been up to since the show ended? Well, I just released my second mixtape, "Lady Rebel Vol. 2." It's on my website, It's super-dope, and I'm getting a lot of great feedback from already established artists, huge DJs. It's getting played in clubs. I've been getting tweets about it, that my song's playing in clubs, and I think it got some radio spins. A lot of stuff is starting to trickle down. I think with a lot of help from the show. People started to pay attention to what I was doing and started to listen accordingly.

It taught me a lot, the show. If you go listen to my first mixtape, and you listen to this one, it's tremendous growth, so that's a good thing. What else have I been doing? Shows, recordings, definitely trying to get myself prepared for, you know, what happened, and, just recording, trying to come up with one of those classic, timeless albums and establish myself in the music industry, then go into movies. You know the story. I wanna do it all. Be filthy rich and happy and married and. . .happy, when it's all done. Awesome. Well, can I ask what you're listening to right now?
Hmm, what am I banging'? Linda Jones, always. I listen to that girl all the time. She never gets old. Kendrick Lamar, this new guy -- he's super-dope. Stacy Barthe, this girl who's been my friend for two years, and she's an amazing singer/songwriter. She has written for everybody from like, Rihanna to Beyonce, but now she's doing her own stuff, and she's hustling. A lot of jazz. Oh! Oh, and one more person! Rahman Apollo! I definitely listen to him all the time. How could I forget him? That's like my favorite! So what advice do you have for other songwriters coming up?
I advise them to be aware of their weaknesses, as well as their strength. It's really important to know your strengths -- not only your weaknesses, but your strengths. If you don't know what you're strong at, you don't know what you need to work on, it just all goes hand in hand.

And be real with yourself: from knowing whether or not a song is hot, or whether your hot, and you need to keep your day job. Definitely that. That would be my advice. Anything else you want to share? Any other big news?
Make sure you let everyone know how bad I want them to check out my new mixtape. Well Congratulations! This is going to be good for you!
No, I think it's going be excellent! Excellent.