• Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Martina McBride moved to tears on 'Songland': 'There's something about this melody that evokes an almost physical reaction'

·Editor in Chief, Yahoo Music
·5 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

When Martina McBride appeared on Monday’s Songland (a.k.a. “Shark Tank for Songwriters”), she was hoping to find her next big hit. However, she probably wasn’t expecting to end up in tears. But that’s exactly what happened when the country superstar heard even the rough preliminary version of “Girls Like Me” by the aspiring songwriter known as H A L I E.

“There’s something about this melody that evokes an almost physical reaction,” said McBride. “You know how a great melody can make you cry or whatever? I feel that this is that kind of melody.”

H A L I E was practically in tears herself, from the moment she entered the audition room and started fangirling over McBride and the show’s judges, hitmakers Ester Dean, Shane McAnally, and Ryan Tedder. Having moved from small-town Missouri to the highly competitive music hub of Nashville two weeks after her high school graduation to pursue her songwriting dream, the 19-year-old told McBride and the panel: “You guys have no idea how special this [opportunity] is. It makes me want to cry, because I want it so bad. I don’t have a plan B.”

“That’s the magic quote, right there,” noted Tedder. “This is such a crazy career path that if you have a plan B, your plan A will not work — because the second it gets too hard, you will run for that plan B.”

McBride confessed that she “felt a connection” to H A L I E’s song from “the very beginning,” and it seemed pretty obvious that none of the night’s three other song submissions stood much of a chance. (Side note: It was quite odd that McBride and the judges thought the words to also-ran contestant Jeffrey James’s “We Could Be Heroes” were empty and trite, but none of them pointed out that tune’s lyrical resemblance to a certain classic ballad. Guess they’re not big David Bowie fans, then?)

As for the lyrics to “Girls Like Me,” McBride, who is the same age as H A L I E’s mom, felt the song needed to be tailored more to her 53-year-old viewpoint. “H A L I E’s song had the kind of melody that could break your heart, if it’s paired with the right words,” she said. “I would love to sing that from the perspective of someone who has been through it. … I am a mother of three daughters, and I do feel like sometimes my audience sees me as a friend, as a mother, as a sister, as somebody that they can look to for advice.”

So for that reason, McBride specifically requested that H A L I E work with Dean, the show’s only female judge, in the workshop round. Dean, happy to be a member of this “girls’ club,” seemed to grasp the “relatable, believable,” mature and empathetic vibe that McBride wanted — an “it’s going to be OK” message. “The narrative we are going to go with is Martina talking to daughters of the world,” Dean explained. “Especially when you have daughters, they’re like, ‘Mom, you don’t get it!’ It brings unity between women.”

Martina McBride cries on 'Songland.' (Photo: NBC)
Martina McBride cries on 'Songland.' (Photo: NBC)

Once H A L I E returned to the judges’ room, her reworked “Girls Like Me” sounded like the logical, older-and-wiser sequel to McBride’s 2003 empowerment anthem, “This One for the Girls.” McBride mouthed, “Wow” and instantly teared up when she heard H A L I E sing again — a sure sign that this was a potential hit. “You know how I said if this song had the right lyrics, it would make you cry? So, that’s what happened,” laughed Martina, as she pointed to her misty eyes.

“Martina getting choked up — God, that’s what you want,” Dean said proudly.

When Martina eventually picked H A L I E’s song as the one she wanted to record, H A L I E’s reaction was even more emotional. She shrieked like she’s just won the lottery, practically collapsed to her knees, and buried her face in her hands. “I literally lie in bed at night dreaming of getting a song pitched to an artist — and my dream came true!” H A L I E gushed. “For Martina to hear it, it just changes everything.”

H A L I E reacts to winning on 'Songland.' (Photo: NBC)
H A L I E reacts to winning on 'Songland.' (Photo: NBC)

McBride, who praised H A L I E’s “spunk and determination to succeed in this business,” seemed equally delighted. “I just love the song. I think it’s really special,” she declared. “Giving the opportunity to a young, up-and-coming songwriter is everything.”

Now it looks like H A L I E won’t have to “run to her plan B” anytime soon. And McBride might continue to make this week’s other rising songwriters’ dreams come true, as she did tell Jeffrey James and Ckay that she’d love to pitch them other songs... which elicited this very screenshot-able reaction:

Jeffrey James, H A L I E, and Ckay on 'Songland.' (Photo: NBC)
Jeffrey James, H A L I E, and Ckay on 'Songland.' (Photo: NBC)

Check out Martina McBride’s moving version of H A L I E’s and Dean’s “Girls Like Me” below. Next week, guest Julia Michaels appear to help other aspiring songwriters realize their own dreams.

Read more from Yahoo Entertainment:

Follow Lyndsey on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Amazon, and Spotify.