You never know where your next hit might come from, but tapping into the wealth of talent on NBC’s Songland is a good place to start looking. That’s what Lady Antebellum did when they appeared on the season 3 debut of the runaway hit show. And to Nashville’s thriving music community, it came as no surprise that hit songwriter and producer Shane McAnally was involved with the Madeline Merlo written tune.
If you’re unfamiliar with the show, four songwriters present an original composition to a panel that includes Shane and his fellow hit songwriters and record producers Ester Dean and Ryan Tedder. A celebrity guest, who commits to record one of the songs, also sits on the panel. After the first round, one songwriter is eliminated and the remaining three are paired up with one of the producers to rework and refine their song. It is then presented again where the artists chose the tune they’ll record.
Lady A was the first to sit with Shane, Ester and Ryan, and while all four writers — Tim Halperin, Madeline Merlo, Steve Battey and Ryan Innes — had penned potential hits, it was Madeline’s that was ultimately chosen by the country trio.
But it didn’t come without some criticism. After her initial performance of “I’ll Drink to That,” Shane told her, “A fun line is that ‘found 20-bucks stuck in my jacket pocket,’ but in the country world, we’ve heard this. It has to be more than just ‘I’ll drink to that.’ You just kind of have to find the heart thread of it. If I ended up working on this song, there would be a new hook. It would be a completely new lyric.”
When Madeline returned to perform her second pass of the song, newly titled “Champagne Night,” there were noticeable changes and the reception she received from the panel was overwhelming, including a standing ovation.
Immediately following the show, Lady Antebellum’s new toe-tapping, summertime anthem, “Champagne Night,” was available for download or stream, and the fun, free-spirited video was on YouTube.