Final show – and given everything, probably THE final show, as in there won’t be a second season. It’s a shame, but songwriting isn’t exciting to watch. Perhaps if they’d made it a bit more like real songwriting – have a demo singer and band, for example. Have some person be the producer. Something to show how things are really done.
The three remaining contestants, Scotty, Sonyae and Jes, are summoned to the roof of their building, to meet Kara and Jewel, who have champagne. The challenge? Write the hit song of their lives.
Only that? Just the best song they’ll ever, ever write? And in less than twenty-four hours? Yeah, totally doable.
They head to their separate studios, where they start to write. Scotty and Jes cozy up to keyboards, but Sonyae just has her notebook and a beat on her music board. She feels her lack of an instrument badly right now. And they have to come up with concepts first.
Scotty decides he wants to write about what it’s like to come to accept yourself, even if your family rejects you. Jes wants to write about her ex-boyfriend and how he hid himself. This is, btw, the guy she broke up with before going on the show. And Sonyae wants to write about religion, but she’s not entirely sure, so she consults with Scotty. To be precise, she’s thinking about her father’s girlfriend, who was raised Christian but changed her religion to be with her father.
And Scotty has a bad reaction to religion because of his upbringing. So he tells her her alternate idea of “Capacity” was much better. And, Sonyae, really. Scotty is sweet but he wants to win this as badly as you do.
Fortunately, Evan Boggart drops by their studios to mess with their minds, and while he encourages more along the same lines for Jes and Scotty, he tells Sonyae that her first idea worked and that “Capacity” is a terrible idea. So she’s going with her first one.
The next day, they make magic. Really, really make magic – they consult with Jonathan “JR” Rotem, a master song producer. And now, for the first time, we see really what can happen when songs are finished. He sits Scotty and Jes by a piano, and has them play their songs and sing them, and pulls out of them exactly where they’re going and how they want their music to sound, and it’s fascinating. It’s still their songs when they’re finished but they’re much, much better.
As for Sonyae – wow. She doesn’t play an instrument, she doesn’t read music and she didn’t work with anyone who did. She knew how she wanted the song to sound, but had no way but singing to show it, and she has key problems. And yet, Rotem manages to pretty much read her mind and find the music she was looking for – and this is magic. But not all songwriters have instruments, so it makes sense he can do that – it’s just amazing to watch.
They get a full band and back-up singers for their final performance. And they do it in front of their former competition plus friends and family AND industry insiders. And their judges – Kara, Jewel, Keith AND Leona Lewis. Jes has her parents (and Johnny). Sonyae has her family. And Scotty? Who has been estranged from his family since his coming out? Has his boyfriend.
And his father next to him. And that’s amazing all by itself.
Jes sings “Come Alive”, and it’s a pretty, uplifting song encouraging someone to come alive and show who they are. Kinda forgettable.
Scotty sings “Beautiful You”, which is a lovely song and has a truly gorgeous line (“Beautiful looks good on you”) and he does it well with his playing and his voice, but I kept thinking about Christina Aguilera, and her song “Beautiful” and the same sort of empowerment theme. Also, it’s a love song to himself, which is weird.
And Sonyae sings “My Religion” and, well. Yes. As a song, it’s great. Powerful lyrics, and she sells it. Even JR couldn’t quite create a melody out of nothing, but he came close and it’s very listenable and there is a hook, but. To me, it’s creepy. It’s making the object an idol – the singer would give up everything for them. Felt like a CULT to me. (And yes, “You shall love the Lord your Gd with all your heart, all your soul and all your resources”, but Gd actually expects us to have free will and lives. And anyway, it’s Gd, not a HUMAN. And for someone not religious at all, I suspect my nightly prayer sounds pretty creepy, too.)
There is judging, and both Kara and Jewel even sing BETTER arrangements of Jes and Sonyae’s songs, and there is praise and criticism in balanced and usable measure – this last being one of the strongest parts of this series.
And Sonyae WINS. And she does deserve to. Creepy though it was, it has a hook and it feels more original than the others. Is it the song of her life? I certainly hope not. I also hope that she pairs up with a good music writer – Scotty comes to mind, or Brian – and gets that career going because she’s smart and talented and should go far.