INSIDER’S TAKE: WHAT THEY GOT RIGHT VS. WELL…KINDA.
What They Got Right:
1:Marcus in the studio:
I’m almost positive this is the studio Sound Emporium on Belmont Blvd. It’s a great studio. I’m not gonna get super judgey about the set-up etc…because they don’t reveal that much about what they’re actually doing, but to me it looks like they are tracking his lead vocal. This would probably happen in an isolation booth, not out in the tracking room. BUT (!!) I’m disproving my own statement here because we tracked “Church Clothes” (if you have seen me live, you’ve heard this song) at Sound Emporium, and I did my lead vocals in the tracking room while the song was going down live. (Now, we used some portable barriers on wheels (kind of like movable walls) to help isolate my vocal from the band, but to be fair to the show…I actually sang lead vocals in this studio with a pretty similar set-up.
2) Maddie’s school uniform:
The Conrad sisters attend a fictional school, which is loosely based on my own alma mater, Harpeth Hall, a girls’ school in the Green Hills neighborhood. Some famous alums include Amy Grant, and Reese Witherspoon.
Maddie is wearing our exact school uniform (Go Honeybears!). Uniform= plaid skirt (“Dress Campbell Plaid), which must be no shorter than 3 inches above the knee + navy polo ( would have the HH logo on it). This obviously isn’t music related…but it is kind fun for me! (You can roll your eyes.)
3) Impromptu acoustic song when the power goes down.
OK, I’ll talk more about my thoughts on how unrealistic this “blowing the power” scenario is in the next section, but I’ve gotta say I really loved this moment. A lot of times on the road things do go “wrong,” but some of the most memorable moments happen when you’re forced to go off script. It’s how you handle the “problem” that matters. Perfect example? Eric Church playing a solo acoustic show in Salt Lake earlier this year when his band and crew all got terribly sick during his tour.
4) Noisy hotel neighbors 🙂
In the last scene, Scarlett is plagued by some romance that’s going on in the next hotel room. I don’t wanna say a lot about this, but having spent a TON of time sleeping in hotels, let’s just say that a sound machine app on your phone is a MUST HAVE.
1) Work/Play Relationships:
Overall, there’s a lot of mixing of business with (ahem) pleasure on this show. And while it does happen (two of my favorite A&R people happen to be married to each other,) for the most part people are cautious about tour romances, relationships between managers & artists, or romances between label heads and artists. I get it, it makes for GREAT TV, but it just doesn’t happen all THAT much.
2) Avery’s guitar overdubs on the car jingle: (I really didn’t know which category to put this in, so bear with me…)
I don’t think they’d be doing Avery’s guitar part as a completely separate overdub for the commercial. (i.e. they probably wouldn’t spend the money to have Avery by himself layering it over the track—for a jingle—there just aren’t budgets like that. An album would be a different story.)
Anyway—I thought the “now play it with a smile” comment from the producer was just SO hilarious and amateur that I hit up a couple of my buddies who are session musicians and asked them what their favorite “producer to musician cliches” are at the moment. What IS accurate is that songwriters (on a demo session) and producers are always telling the musicians to play this way or that way, more this, less that…and I’m sure it gets VERY annoying for these session players. I find bringing an appropriate musical reference is more well received. Also, if you’re giving feedback about a specific tone quality, or a melodic line, that’s far more helpful.
Here are some of the most overused words and cliche phrases that my friends sent me:
“Let’s just get weird on this thing.”
“We want it to sound like a hit.”
“Don’t be afraid to get outside the box, guys”
“Make the choruses huge.”
“Going for an Aldean thing.”
“Give me the ‘Coldplay’ beat.”
“Katy Perry country”
“Organic and stripped down”
“Four on the floor”
“4 down 4 up” (means half the intro is small, then the other half is huge)
“Something just doesn’t feel right.”
3) Scarlett & Erin and the monitors, and blowing the power:
Well this whole thing is just a mess. First of all there are two types of monitors:
Floor wedges: these are like speakers on the floor pointed up at you. They’re common in club settings and smaller venues. Down side is you can only hear your monitor when you’re standing in front of it. So it makes it hard to confidently move all around the stage, because you can’t hear yourself. If you can’t hear yourself, you can’t sing/play in tune. There’s a lot of stage noise when you’re playing with a band because the amps and drums are VERY VERY loud.
In-Ear Monitors: These are like custom earbuds, and they are actually built from a mold of your ear. They can be tricky to get used to, but are pretty much the standard for touring club & arena acts. They plug into a little wireless pack that you clip on your clothes or put in a pocket, and they allow you to walk all over the stage, or up and down the thrust (that thing that is like a catwalk on big stages). Now, there are some downsides and they can be tricky to get used to, but they’re really the only way to control what you’re hearing in a big arena setting, or even a large club setting.
I was pretty confused when Scarlett was giving feedback to Erin about her monitor mix.
“Erin, would you mind making sure my vocal is turned up and completely isolated in my monitor?”
I don’t really know what that means. You can’t ONLY have your vocal in your monitor.
It’s also seems like she’s giving her feedback on in-ear monitors—but then they don’t end up looking like they’re wearing in-ears on stage that night. But I don’t see any actual floor wedges either. And then Erin is checking the vocal level in her own headphones at the board, which I’ve really only seen people do if they’re running in -ears, not floor wedges. But either way, you really can’t only have your vocal in whatever monitor you’re using. Especially if you’re a duo, and singing harmonies with someone else.
Also, I don’t think riding the vocal level in the monitor would ever blow the power to the whole building. Then, after the fact, Erin blames the sound board. But, if they’re bringing their own buses and engineers they would be bringing their own board too. For sure. They wouldn’t be using the “crappy old soundboard” (which is what Erin calls it) at the venue.
That’s all….what did I miss? What do you wanna know more about? Hit me up in the comments. XO