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What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Songland is a reality competition featuring up-and-coming songwriters pitching their work to famous singers and music producers in hopes of having one of their songs recorded and released. It’s family-friendly, but many of the lyrics (and conversations) make clear references to dating and love, and more subtle references to intimacy. Drinking is sometimes discussed, too. Not surprisingly, there are lots of conversations about popular songs, singers, and albums, but most of these are discussed within an artistic context. Winning songs are featured being partially performed, with an invitation to go to YouTube to watch the entire music video.
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What's the story?
Executive produced by Adam Levine, SONGLAND is a reality competition featuring up-and-coming songwriters pitching their work in hopes that a major music performer will record it and make it a mega hit. Each episode features a successful celebrity singer like John Legend, Meghan Trainor, Macklemore, or a popular band like the Jonas Brothers and OneRepublic, meeting three songwriters and listening to them individually perform an original song. Also assessing their work are renown music producers Ryan Tedder, Ester Dean, and Shane McAnally. After receiving some constructive criticism, and under the guidance of the music producers, they continue to develop and reshape their work. Once the newest version of each contestant's song is performed, the artist chooses the best one to record for global release. An excerpt of the famous singer or band performing the song is shown at the end.
Is it any good?
This positive and gentle reality contest highlights the creative work involved when developing music compositions and writing lyrics that can be successfully performed and marketed while staying true to its original concept. Despite the fact that it’s a competition, each up-and-coming songwriter celebrates the opportunity to perform to, and work with, people in the higher ranks of the industry (and no doubt getting some exposure, too). The celebrity artists and the music producers are respectful, but honestly offer clear and constructive feedback designed to help each one continue developing his/her work for future success. As a result, while the contestants are hoping for that big break, the overall show gives the sense that everyone wins in some way. Ultimately, Songland underscores the unique way that songwriters serve as storytellers, and how they must adapt their work to the business while still expressing the emotions and feelings that will resonate with listeners.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it takes to break into the music industry as a songwriter. Do you have to know how to compose music in order to write lyrics? What determines a winning song?
What kinds of suggestions do the experts on Songland have for writing a popular or commercially successful song? Does any of the advice include incorporating curses, sexist language, violent or explicit lyrics, or other mature content?
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