‘Songland’ Has Faith That Pop Writing Collaborations Make for Good TV-Land, Too

On a Tuesday afternoon in March at NBC Universal Studios, an episode of “Songland” is being filmed, with judges Ryan TedderShane McAnally and Ester Dean evaluating and reworking aspiring songwriters’ original material. The nitty-gritty of debating what can be done with the tunes to make them work is fairly intense. But there are more relaxed moments, too, like when one of the contestants reveals that he was the lead singer for a Christian rock band, leading Tedder to wax nostalgic about the time he spent as a student at Oral Roberts University.

“My world ended up being all CCM for two years,” says the hit producer and OneRepublic singer. “I had my Beastie Boys records hidden.” “Like porn,” clarifies McAnally, who’s oft cited as Nashville’s most successful contemporary writer.

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