NBC premiered a different kind of music competition show in 2019 with Songland, which puts the writers rather than the singers in the spotlight. The show features a celebrity musician or music group (like Lady A in the Season 2 premiere) each episode and introduces several songwriters who hope to win the chance to write their next hit. Only one songwriter usually has a song chosen by the end of the episode, but even those who don't win get exposure on national television. In Season 1, that involved Songland releasing all the songs, but that wasn't the case in Season 2 for a big reason.
In Season 1, the songs from the runners-up would be released on digital platforms as well, giving fans the chance to listen all over again even if those particular writers didn't win. By not releasing the songs in Season 2, Songland is aiming to open a different door. Songland executive producer Audrey Morrissey explained to Give Me My Remote:
Season 1, we anticipated that people would fall in love with all this songs, and there would be the many viewers who disagreed with the choice of the guest artists; they wouldn’t have made the same choice and that they would want to enjoy the music. So we put it out. This season we decided to not put them out in the hopes that by not releasing them, we could, behind the scenes, hopefully place the song with other established artists as opposed to having the songwriters themselves release them. It was an experiment in a way: does not releasing them pay off in helping these songs find homes with more established artists?
The hopefuls on Songland are sometimes hoping to launch careers as singers themselves, but more often than not are eager to perform their songs for the sole purpose of selling them to interested parties. Unlike The Voice or American Idol or even The Masked Singer, the singers really aren't what the show is about, even if the big-name celebrities like Usher and Bebe Rexha help attract viewers. If Songland doesn't release the songs, then the writers have the chance to sell them elsewhere.
The writers who are chosen obviously have what it takes to craft hits tailored to artists' tastes and talents, with Lady A (formerly known as Lady Antebellum) taking their selected song, called "Champagne Night," to radio. Writers who are eliminated aren't necessarily cut because of a lack of talent, but often rather just a different vision than what would work for the particular artist looking for songs. Maybe the songs that didn't work out for Ben Platt or Boyz II Men will work out elsewhere. And Season 2's handling of the song releases gives the writers the opportunity.
Of course, not everything in the latest season went entirely according to plan, and not just because fan reactions to Songland impacting The Voice weren't the greatest. Bebe Rexha's big episode in Season 2 was aimed at finding a new song to use for NBC's Olympic promotion for the Summer 2020 Olympic Games in Toyko. With the Tokyo Olympics postponed, the episode came to a somewhat anticlimactic ending, and Songland hasn't officially been renewed or cancelled just yet.
That said, Songland has been a mostly steady and solid performer for NBC as a spring/summer series, so a return for Season 3 is likely. The big question may just be when such a return would even be possible. If you missed the latest episodes or are just in the mood for a rewatch, you can find the full second season streaming on Hulu and Peacock now. For some upcoming viewing options, check out our 2020 fall TV premiere schedule!