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Spoilers ahead for Ben Platt's big episode of Songland Season 2 on NBC.
The second round of Songland has guaranteed that prirmetime isn't out of music-based competition TV despite The Voice, American Idol, and even The Bachelor: Listen To Your Heart already wrapping for the season. That said, Songland is a different kind of competition show, with performances happening without throngs of screaming fans, new winners being announced on a weekly basis, and the prize going to a writer rather than a performer. Songland arguably delivers the least glitz, glamor, and spectacle of any competition show, but it just officially became my favorite with Ben Platt's episode.
Ben Platt, who is only an Oscar away from becoming an EGOT-winner at the age of 26, dropped by Songland because he's looking for more of a pop feel for his next album. Already friends with Ester Dean from Pitch Perfect, Platt put his faith in the Songland team to find the writer who could create the perfect song for his new album. In the process, Songland did what Songland does best, and it was great. Admittedly, the fact that the Ben Platt episode won me over might be connected to my love of musicals and his turn as the lead of Dear Evan Hansen and songs from The Politician Season 1.
That said, I think the element from the Ben Platt episode that decided me on loving Songland was simply that Ben Platt is a huge fan of Songland. He was thrilled to be part of the show, and even confessed that he'd been listening to Songland songs on his drive to the set. His excitement was contagious, and watching Songland when the celebrity looking for a hit is a fan gave me a new perspective. And what Songland does so well is tell uplifting stories without getting sickly sweet or self-indulgent.
The writers who appear on Songland are clearly talented and capable professionals who put their hearts into their songs, not chosen for drama or spectacle or playing to a crowd. They're excited to have the chance to help a star find their next hit, and they're generally happy to receive and learn from constructive criticism. And the criticism is never mean-spirited, but intended to help the writers fine-tune their work for the industry. There are laughs, but the contestants aren't the punchlines. There is no Simon Cowell on Songland.
I also can't help but emotionally connect with the show when everybody is so sincere about what they're doing. The judges take notes, and everything is a collaboration. Honestly, I think everybody in the Ben Platt episode teared up at least once because of how much of a punch the songs packed, not because of melodrama or sabotage.
Is Songland the most thrilling competition TV show on the small screen? Definitely not, and The Voice fans' reactions to the Songland collaboration prove that it's not the show for everybody. But Songland makes me smile and gives me a look at the process behind how some of the biggest names in the music biz make their music. There's no stress in Songland, and even those whose songs aren't picked leave better off than they arrived.
The next episode of Songland Season 2 should be one to watch thanks to none other than R&B icon and Grammy-winner Usher dropping by for what could be his next hit. Tune in to NBC on Monday, June 15 at 10 p.m. ET for the next episode of Songland. For more viewing options, check out our 2020 summer premiere schedule.