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'Songland' Recap: Did Meghan Trainor Just Find Her Next Smash?

Meghan Trainor Songland
Trae Patton/NBC

KOLE, Ryan Tedder and Meghan Trainor on Songland.

With the Jonas Brothers still soaring on the iTunes chart with last week’s Songland winner “Greenlight,” Meghan Trainor steps onto NBC’s latest hit series hoping for a little of the same razzle dazzle. The recently-hitched “All About That Bass” singer declares that she’s “still looking for songs” for her perpetually-delayed third LP, so here’s hoping she chooses wisely.

Trainor is, of course, no stranger to these televised dog and pony acts, having served as a judge on The Four: Battle For Stardom and appearing as a guest on both Drop The Mic and Lip Sync Battle. And given that she’s recorded with Ryan Tedder and states that she’s wanted to team up with Ester Dean for a long time, she should fit right in with the Songland panel.

Getting the show on the road, the first songwriter to try their luck is Atlanta barista Brandin Jay, who penned “No Money Alright” because he’s pretty much broke... but happy! He stands before Meghan, Ryan, Ester and fellow Songland panelist Shane McAnally and belts out his upbeat pop number. When the hitmakers seated before him start clapping along, it suddenly looks as if Brandin’s days spent pouring cold brews might soon be over. He tells the Songland crew, “I’ve been doing this for so long, and I’ve never been able to get in the right room.” Meghan, no stranger to crafting songs for other artists, reassures him, “You were born to do this.”

Moving right along, in walks Kole (yep -- just Kole, because diva, obviously), a self-proclaimed “quirky” Tarzana, California songwriter who informs the cameras that she turned to music when she found herself being ostracized in middle school. As far as sob stories go, it’s like, get in line, girl. But she’s got a hooky jam to back it all up. “Hurt Me” is a fun and sassy dance-pop cut that manages to sound both retro and now. Meghan, clearly impressed, blurts out, “This should be your first single. I’ll take it!” Kudos to Kole.

Zachary Kale is a talented gent from the South who’s already seen Florida Georgia Line record one of his compositions. Will Meghan Trainor be the next star on his dance card? “All Over Again” is a so-so mid-tempo love song he presents, but it seems to be missing a catchy chorus. Meghan jumps in and specifically tells Zachary that the tune is “missing the big punch before the chorus.” Ryan, Ester and Shane then proceed to jam and toy with reshaping “All Over Again” as a ballad. NEXT!

Originally from Sunnyvale, California, Josh Wood now lives in West Hollywood and looks like he could pass himself off as Justin Timberlake’s younger sibling. He reassures Meghan and Co. that the song he wrote, “Alone,” isn’t a tearjerker. Sure enough, once he sings the fun post-breakup offering, Meghan labels it “a bop.” Cue up another song structure-changing jam session between the panel, which brings Josh to tears. (The good kind, thankfully.)

Alas, the time comes for Meghan to cut one of these folks loose. And so it’s curtains for Zachary Kale and his lovey-dovey composition “All Over Again.”

Josh Woods then hits the studio with Shane McAnally, who thinks the melody of “Alone” is great, but the lyrics need to be better. Right on the spot, Josh makes a few word changes that knock Shane for a loop. Once Josh presents the much tighter “Alone” to Meghan, she’s in awe of how upgraded it now sounds.

Meanwhile, Ryan Tedder states that he thinks Kole understands pop writing, given that she wrote, produced and cut “Hurt Me” all on her own. The pair proceed to tweak every line of the tune and punch of the production in the studio to ensure Meghan’s ear will be properly grabbed. Their labor results in Kole delivering a much more concise version of the song on stage.

That leaves Brandon Jay and Ester Dean, who says she wants to change the narrative of “No Money Alright” to better fit Meghan Trainor’s lifestyle. Songwriting aside, Brandon is a solid vocalist, and when he later croons his lyrically-altered original song once more, Meghan and the three panelists are up on their feet swaying along.

This all leaves Meghan with the final task of selecting just one of these tracks to be her next single. She admits that she was leaning toward one particular tune, but decided to go with Kole’s “Hurt Me” in the end. Smart girl.

And just like magic, “Hurt Me” by Meghan Trainor is available now for your listening pleasure on iTunes and Spotify. Have at it, kiddos.

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