“I’ve been spinning around and crying all day,” shared the elated singer-songwriter and recent winner of NBC’s Songland, Madeline Merlo. This Canadian country singer-songwriter has had a very top-heavy 2020. When we spoke with her, Merlo had just received word that Lady Antebellum would be taking her song, “Champagne Night” to radio this week. Written with country music’s master songwriter, Shane McAnally, the dynamic single toppled all-genre iTunes charts following the air date on April 13.
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“As a songwriter, that is the absolute goal,” explained Merlo in response to the news. “To have your single go to radio with an artist like Lady A, I just can’t believe this is happening to me.”
Writing with Shane McAnally is the opportunity of a lifetime for any country singer-songwriter. Merlo referred to his widely-revered work as masterpieces. Her fandom revealed itself with a keychain McAnally’s face that’s been hanging on her keys for eight months. “I showed it to him when we filmed and was like, please get a restraining order against me,” she laughed, “but, I manifested this shit.”
“He’s my hero,” Merlo continued. “And he just blew me out of the water with his talent and kindness. Shane made me feel so seen and heard in the room, for someone of his level. His story too. He started as a writer and had to prove himself in this town. You can do whatever you want if you work hard enough, and he’s proof of that.”
Today, the breakout talent released three singles. The trio is the product of her first two years living in Nashville, writing songs every single day. Each song plays a different part in a circle of heartbreak. Combined, they tell the story of the end of a defining relationship in her life.
First, in her lineup, headed to country radio in Canada today, is the multi-layered, “Kiss Kiss” With trap hats and vocal samples, the single feels like a female Jason Aldean-esque confident, country song. The lyrics tell the story of finding somebody else with a broken heart and kissing about it.
“Kiss Kiss” is one I’ve been sitting on for a minute,” Merlo shared. “We’ve been playing it live, so I have seen the audience react, that’s always a good indicator. I’m excited to get that one out there finally.”
Up next is a ‘Dear Diary’ style confessional, “If You Never Broke My Heart.” Country-tinged pop circles reveal closure, perspective, and a peep at life on the other side of a relationship. “You learn a lot about the bars that you set in love,” Merlo shared about the enlightenment following heartbreak.
Finally, Merlo’s third single release, “It Didn’t” reverberates resilience. Set in a post-breakup world, the song launches from the point where she’s gotten off the couch, put down the Chinese take out, and is ready to move forward with renewed confidence. Although it may sound romantic, it hits on a couple of different levels for the writer.
The hook is “It was what it was, now it isn’t/ I thought it would kill me, but it didn’t. It goes along with a really bad breakup. I struggled a lot with my mental health and felt really, really dark for a lot of months in a row. And I remember just feeling like I don’t want to feel like this anymore.”
Complete with a horn section, the track is a dream production for the young artist. “I’ve been playing with a lot of different sounds and writing. I wanted to make music that inspired me.”
If the first half of this year is any indication of what is to come for Madeline Merlo, we can expect that her best is yet to come.
“It’s crazy to look back and think I started as a big fish in a small Canadian country music pond with a record deal at 17. I moved to Nashville and wrote songs full-time. Then, I got a publishing deal within 10 months. Then I got put in the room one day and wrote a song called, “I’ll Drink To That” and submitted it for a show called Songland. Then end up winning that night. Now, I have a country radio single with one of the biggest country acts in the world,” Merlo reviewed in a “pinch-me” manor. “It’s just wild.”