‘Songland’ mentors dish on collabs with Adele, Taylor Swift and more


Many reality shows have searched for the next great singer, but NBC’s new series “Songland” directs the camera elsewhere: to the writers who craft those performers’ unforgettable tunes.

“Songland,” premiering Tuesday at 10 p.m., gives four songwriters each week the opportunity to have their work recorded by a guest music act, such as the Jonas Brothers or John Legend. But first they’ll be advised by the stacked roster of mentors. OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder, “Pitch Perfect” star Ester Dean and 2019 Academy of Country Music Awards songwriter of the year Shane McAnally will help them with the secret sauce that makes a great song.

Dean tells The Post she knows a song is good “when you want to turn it up,” and McAnally says the key is that there’s “something that we hear ourselves in.” Tedder cites the necessity of “a simple concept said in a profound way.”

Here, the mentors tell the stories behind some of their most memorable songs.

“Vice,” Miranda Lambert

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The huge news of Lambert’s separation from her then-husband Blake Shelton broke on the very day that McAnally and his writing partner Josh Osborne were scheduled to work with Lambert. McAnally was certain she’d cancel, but instead, she showed up and laid everything on the table.

After a while, McAnally says, Lambert told them, “It’s not the way it looks. We’ve known this was coming and we’ve just now told the press. So, it’s not like today I woke up and have had my heart broken.”

He suggested writing a song playing into how the public might perceive her getting through the divorce with vices such as drinking or going out partying.

“Whether or not it was true to her,” says McAnally, “it was a character that she understood because it was what people sort of wanted.”

“Super Bass,” Nicki Minaj

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Dean had written songs for Minaj previously, but she’d never worked in the studio with the rapper until Minaj called her up one night around 1 a.m.

“She said, ‘I have this track and I just know you’ll kill it,’ ” says Dean. “I said, ‘I’m on my way.’ I was like 30 minutes away, but . . . I drove to the studio, basically in pj’s.”

The quick response paid off, as Dean ended up writing the whole “boom badoom boom” hook.

“I went into the booth and just started screaming and singing and ‘nah nah nah nahs’ and stuff like that,” says Dean. “And she was like, ‘That’s it, that’s the part!’ ”

“Welcome to New York,” Taylor Swift

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Tedder says that sometimes he doesn’t even have to do much for an artist. For this track off Swift’s album “1989,” the pop star came prepared with a concept and lyrics to work on, and Tedder brought in a Juno-106 keyboard for the song’s quintessential ‘80s sound. He remembers the day well because Swift’s ex-boyfriend Harry Styles happened to show up at the studio.

“I’m friends with Harry and Taylor, and Harry was texting me, saying, ‘Hey, I hear you’re at [the studio], what are you doing here?’ ” says Tedder. “And I was like, ‘I’m with Taylor.’ And then he’s like, ‘Oh.’ And Taylor was like, ‘Was that Harry? Did he just walk by the studio?’ I was like, ‘Oh, s–t.’ ”

“It was a little awkward,” says Tedder. “I won’t go any deeper than that because I don’t want any retribution.”

“Body Like a Back Road,” Sam Hunt

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Hunt came up with the title after getting engaged, wanting a song that celebrated a woman in a playful way.

“It took many writing sessions, which surprises people because it sounds so simple,” says McAnally. “But [Hunt] kept saying, ‘I want it to sound like I’m saying it for the first time.’ So it was actually a real struggle for us not to make every road comparison to a woman.”

McAnally and his co-writers penned 16 verses, most of which were axed alongside metaphors about turns and windshields, with the chosen verse lyrics instead focused primarily on describing the woman.

“Rumour Has It,” Adele

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Tedder says that when he got together with Adele for this track off “21,” he told her he’d do anything other than a ballad, as he was becoming the go-to guy for them. He then asked her what she was in the mood for.

“She said, ‘Well, I’m really pissed off. Back home in London . . . all my friends are spreading rumors about my breakup with my ex,’ ” says Tedder.

The two channeled that anger into a stomper of a song.

“I said, ‘This is the melody that I hear, what do you hear lyrically?’ ” says Tedder. “I’m pretty sure she spat out the majority of the first verse the second she opened her mouth.”