Will.i.am strolls into Songland’s second episode with high hopes of finding The Black Eyed Peas’ next big smash. I vaguely remember a Fergie-less BEP album coming and going pretty much under the radar less than 12 months ago, so sounds like Will could use a hit, or, as he puts it, “a song that connects different walks of life.” Did he come to the right place?
Josh Logan from Chester, New York comes packing with his tune “Boxes.” (Show up for the music, stay for the dad jokes, kids.) This particular songwriter has a lot on his plate at the moment, as not only is he trying to hook Will with his composition, but he’s also got a baby girl due in 14 days. Nevertheless, the lure of showbiz has Josh presenting his fairly decent pop track to the Peas’ frontman, along with panelists Ester Dean, Shane McAnally and Ryan Tedder. Once they hear “Boxes,” all four deconstruct it on the spot and switch up the tempo (with some help from the series’ house band). There’s definitely potential with this one.
Next up is 21-year-old Charisma from Kolkata, India, who split home at 16 to make it as a songwriter in Los Angeles. What did her parents think of this epic move? They’re “shook,” she deadpans to Will & Co. Like Josh, Charisma is armed with an uplifting pop song, “Invincible.” Will and Ryan feel a few of the lyrics are too on-the-nose, but Ester sees the potential. Ryan concedes that the melody and concept of the tune are pretty great.
Adam Friedman, a 28 year old from Phoenix, conveyor-belts in to tell us that he had trouble reading and writing when he was a kid. Enter his mother, who gave Adam a tape deck and Hooked on Phonics cassettes, which he used to record his guitar and vocals and ultimately teach himself how to produce. Tonight he offers up what, at first, seems like a highly-cheesy dance-pop track called “Be Nice.” Once the bass-heavy groove sets in, though, there’s no denying the hook, and everyone on the panel is soon bopping along. This one has will.i.am written all over it.
This week’s final contestant arrives in the form of 18-year-old singer-songwriter Ray Goren from New York City, who skipped college to tour the country in a pickup truck his dad gifted to him. Ray is hoping Will gets into his hip hop ballad “Oh Lord,” which boasts an inspirational chorus and sounds not unlike Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth’s 2015 mega-hit “See You Again.” After hearing Ray belt out the song, Will notes, “That’s a moment. It’s real powerful, bro.”
Alas, only three of the four songwriters will be hitting the studio with the three panelist producers, and so young Ray gets cut. However, Will tells the kid “Oh Lord” is a career-making song he should record for himself. The main Peas man then throws young Ray a curveball by saying he would love to feature on his song.
From here, Josh and Shane are paired up to work on “Boxes,” while Ester and Adam tackle a Will-appropriate rejigging of “Be Nice,” and Charisma and Ryan rearrange “Invincible.” But it turns out Will isn’t one to sit on his laurels. He’s also in studio mode, and he works alone on producing his own versions of all three songs. Hilariously, this somewhat up-ends the work Ester, Shane and Ryan put in with the hopeful songwriters, but rolling with the punches is sometimes just the way showbiz goes, folks.
When the time comes for Charisma to sing “Invincible” over its new production, Ryan, having learned Will’s added rap only that morning, hits the stage to join her. Will finds the beat of the track to be “right now,” and thinks the song is “really, really awesome” in its new version. Gold star for Charisma.
Meanwhile, Josh’s daughter is due to be born this very day, but he still manages to showcase the new sing-song rendition of “Boxes” for Will.
As for “Be Nice,” Adam 28-year-old-white-boy-dances in front of his mic while singing the catchy tune in its clubby new form. Will once again disrupts the show by stepping on stage with Adam, given that inspiration for a new lyric idea has struck him. That’s a good sign, and it’s not hard to see where tonight’s results are going.
In what should be a surprise to no one, Will selects Adam’s song “Be Nice” to be the new Black Eyed Peas single. However, no one is going home empty-handed — least of all BEP — because Will then announces that he’s removing three songs from the group’s next album to add “Be Nice,” as well as “Boxes” and “Invincible.”
Dreams come true every day, viewers. Know what else is dreamy? The Black Eyed Peas’ version of “Be Nice” is already up on iTunes and Spotify — now with added Snoop Dogg.