On the second episode of NBC’s new talent show Songland, aka “Shark Tank for Songwriters,” four more aspiring songsmiths performed their unreleased compositions for a panel of pros -- Ryan Tedder Ester Dean, and Shane McAnally – and for guest star will.i.am, who was on the hunt for hits for the next Fergie-free Black Eyed Peas album. And will.i.am’s enthusiasm level was so Red Bull-level intense, he made the Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” seem like something by Leonard Cohen or Elliott Smith.
Yes, Will had a feeling that tonight was gonna be a good night, indeed. But those four contestant had no idea how good a night it would actually be for all involved.
“Every single artist like myself that comes on this show has their fingers, toes, and eyes crossed, hoping we hit the lottery, because that's what it's like when you find a hit!” will.i.am declared with evangelical zeal at the top of the show. “I'm looking for a song that can connect different walks of life -- fathers with daughters, moms with sons, make old people feel young, make young people feel important. And that song will come from one place: Songland! … I’m leaving here with the Black Eye Peas’ next hit song.”
Will was so inspired by “Be Nice” that he actually went on the studio himself to fine-tune Friedman’s track (which had been officially assigned to Dean), making it bass-heavier and dirtier. “When I fall in love with something, I go all the way,” Will proclaimed, later admitting that he’d been working on all three songs on his own time. (“He is breaking the show!” laughed McAnally.) The new “Be Nice” was less nice -- darkier and slinkier, with a disco vibe reminiscent of Rihanna’s “Please Don’t Stop the Music.” I felt like the music had been stopped. The bright energy of the original was sadly gone. But when Will got up and freestyled over the track, it made sense. It totally worked for his vibe.
Will’s favorite track was “Be Nice,” but he was “so freakin’ over the moon” for Songland that instead of just going with one winner -- as last week’s guest John Legend did, and presumably all future guest stars will do -- he announced: “Yo, we got the jams. I was in my studio working on the record and then something told me to just get out of the hole I was in and come on the show. And I'm so freaking happy that I did. I'm taking three songs off the [upcoming Black Eyed Peas] album so these three songs can be on the album. All the songs are gonna make Black Eyed Peas' album. They jams. That's the bop. Give it to me!”