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Six inspiring, young singer-songwriters...
I'm really passionate about song writing.
Whenever I get back from school, I start to write new songs.
..and award-winning choirmaster Gareth Malone...
Ah! Did you feel the difference?
..team up with the music industry's most influential...
Really, really deliver those lyrics to the audience.
..to prepare for a big performance of historical significance.
Everyone, get under your desks immediately!
When there was an air raid, they would've probably thought,
"Am I going to die now?"
After weeks of fine tuning their musical skills...
Yeah, I loved it!
..and building up their World War I knowledge...
There are big rats in this trench.
..have any of them written a song worthy of commemorating
one of the biggest events in history?
This is something we'll remember the rest of our lives,
so I just don't want to mess it up.
the kids find final inspiration for their World War I songs...
-He was 19.
-I can't believe he was so young.
..they make waves on the radio...
That would be welcome in the Live Lounge any day.
..and one song is picked for the big performance.
The song we have chosen is...
It is the final week at Music Headquarters.
The six young songwriters are hard at work on their World War I songs.
In just 24 hours,
they will each have to perform what they've written,
and only one of their songs will be chosen for the big performance.
It would be amazing to know that my song had been chosen
and I'd be performing it in Belgium.
It would be fantastic.
It's the thing I would dream about - my song,
something I've written, to be represented in such an amazing way.
One of our songs is going to represent the nation. That's just...
It's like it's untrue. It's like a dream, really.
I'm really looking forward to hearing your songs.
And I know that it is going to be a very difficult decision.
But I will not be making that decision on my own.
I'll have two people to help me.
Judging the songs with Gareth will be two people
from the music industry.
The first person who is going to come and join me on the panel,
making the decision, is...
That's right, it's me, Katy B!
I will be heading to Music HQ later.
I started writing songs when I was 14,
and I've been lucky enough to have a number one selling best album.
So, Katy B is coming to help me make my decision.
There is one more person,
and that person is one of the most influential people in music today.
And they have sent you a message.
Hi there, I'm Jake Gosling, and I have produced Ed Sheeran
and Paloma Faith and I've worked with One Direction.
And I'm coming to hear your songs. So I will see you very soon.
Jake Gosling co-wrote Ed Sheeran's number one album
and has produced records for numerous stars.
He is a man who really knows the technical side of music.
He is coming to hear your songs.
In less than 24 hours,
two of the biggest names in the music industry
are coming to help me decide
which song is going to represent the nation.
There is a lot of pressure.
To impress me, Gareth and Jake, the kids must get the right
tone for the World War I commemorative event in Belgium.
So before they put the finishing touches to their songs,
Gareth is taking the singers to one last World War I location.
Brookwood Military Cemetery was the final resting place
for hundreds of soldiers who fought in the war.
It's the perfect place for the songwriters to reflect on what
they have written.
This is Brookwood Cemetery, which is
the largest war grave in this country.
It is perhaps not what you'd expect. I don't know how you feel about it.
But you can hear the bird songs, the sun's shining,
the graves are beautifully kept. Immaculate here.
There is something rather beautiful,
something rather still about this place.
Is it what you expected?
It's quite overwhelming to, like, see all of the graves just lined up.
This place is kind of like a very big respect cos it is showing them
that we care so much that we've made this whole place for them.
It does feel respectful, doesn't it?
This is your last chance to reflect on your songs.
So go around, have a look at the graves, have a think about whether
you have written something that is a fitting tribute to these people.
Around ten million men were killed fighting in World War I.
The bloodshed finally came to an end in 1918 when,
after a series of rattles, the German forces were defeated.
Thousands of men returned home to Britain as heroes.
And it was sworn that the soldiers who died on the battlefield
would never be forgotten.
It is a sobering place to be,
but I think it will help everyone
understand the sacrifice that was made in the First World War.
It says Ernest Alfred Hadley.
He was 19.
I can't believe he was so young.
That would be like my brother going to war, and that's really weird,
-Oh, look, this one was only 15.
-He's only one year older than you.
-And he went to war and died.
This boy could've had, like, 60 or maybe even 70 years ahead of him.
That's really sad.
To join the British Army, you had to be at least 18 years old.
But many chose to lie about their age
so that they could fight for their country.
He died on the 22nd of October, 1918.
If he had just survived, like, three weeks,
then he would have made it to the end of the war.
The bottom bit says, "A loving son."
It's really nice that they all have such personal messages behind them.
For one songwriter, there is
a headstone of particular significance.
He has the same name as my great-great-granddad, John Barber.
-'Middlesex Regiment, 28th of October, 1918, age 33.
'Ever remembered by his adoring wife and children.'
Learning about his relative's role
in the war made a big impression on Ben.
That's him. 100 years ago.
It looks like one of those photos you see in a history lesson.
And now it's actually, like, real life, that...
That could've been me, that's my relative.
Now he has found the grave of a soldier who shares the same name.
-Do think it is actually him?
-I don't know.
Obviously, I don't know because, like,
it could just be a huge coincidence.
In fact, records show that Ben's ancestor was one of the lucky ones.
Not only did he survive the war,
but he lived into his 70s and had 13 children.
When we first came in, I saw a dozen and I thought,
"Oh, yeah, that's it."
But there's just endless amounts as you go on into the cemetery.
Each of them was a different person, had a different life.
The care that has been put into these grave stones, like,
they're all carved really well and everything.
And I think that's the kind of care we need to put into our songs.
I genuinely think that coming here has changed everything.
Which song can stand up and represent the nation
and sum up how we feel that the First World War?
It's a very big decision.
Whichever World War I song is chosen will be
sung by the kids at an international event in front of the royal family.
So far, the group have only performed at HQ,
so Gareth wants to help prepare them for the pressure.
Here we are, this is Broadcasting House, home of BBC Radio One.
Radio One is where some of the biggest names in the music
industry have performed their hits.
Hello, good morning. You are listening to BBC Radio One.
Today, it is the turn of our songwriters.
They will be performing for superstar DJ Dev Griffin.
-Hey, what is up, guys?
Welcome. How's it going? Is it quite exciting to be on Radio One?
What kind of people have you had in here?
What's your coolest people so far?
Oh, man, we've had everybody.
Will Ferrell, Ne-Yo... We've had Harry Styles in.
Anyone who's anybody who makes music or is in film has been
to Radio One at least once.
And now it's us.
They have decided to sing Fly Away,
an up-beat pop song they wrote for Eliza Doolittle.
# Everything's gonna be OK
# It'll get better from here
# What's the point in worrying
# It'll be all right
# Use your wings to fly away
# Down the path to a better day
# Shed your worries Spread your wings
# Out of winter The sunlight springs
# Out of winter The sunlight springs. #
Woo! That was really good.
I tell you what, that would be welcome in the Live Lounge any day.
That was really good, guys. One thing I did notice,
though, is that body language is quite important.
When I stand and I am doing my show in there,
I'm very much, you know, hands out and about and stuff.
It just makes me feel like I can maybe project a little bit more.
If you shy away a little bit,
if you've got your hands in your pockets,
it might take away a little bit from the performance, you know?
You definitely want to stand confidently.
Do you ever get nervous when you're about to go live on air?
Every single show, every single time, just before I go on-air,
I get the butterflies in my stomach a little bit.
Do you have any advice for dealing with that?
Well, I would definitely say this to you guys.
When you perform in front of a crowd,
most of the people want you to do well.
Nobody is out there wanting you to fail or wanting you to mess
up or maybe hit a bum note. Most of the people are rooting for you.
They're already fans before you've even started.
It's great feedback from DJ Dev
and another amazing experience for the young songwriters.
Well, we've just been the Radio One and met Dev
and performed a song in front of him.
And it's like it's just a dream, really.
I think he was impressed. He did like our song, which was good.
That was, like, so cool!
I just want to go back in there and do that again. It's amazing.
We were right in the room were some of the biggest
stars in the world have been and performed their own music.
And I think our song, it stood up.
They did a good job, they held their own. I'm proud of them.
To inspire their song writing for the last five weeks,
the group have been immersed in all aspects of the First World War,
from life in the trenches to a 1914 school lesson.
Back at The Big Performance HQ, it is
the last chance for the young musicians to work on their tracks.
Soon they will each have to perform their songs,
and then one will be chosen for the group to sing in Belgium.
Everyone is making the final tweaks to their songs,
hoping that that will make the difference.
I think they've all realised that they really want this.
I'm really, really, really nervous.
Probably the most nervous I've ever been.
I think my song's got quite a good chance.
Well, I think everybody's has.
If they call out my name, if my song was chosen,
I think I'd feel so happy.
I know, if I mess this one up, I mess the whole thing up.
And it's not one of those things where I can just start again.
This is it, this is your final performance,
where you sing your song that you've worked so hard on.
You really have put a bit of yourself into those songs,
which I really appreciate.
You were all picked because you are great songwriters
and you are great singers, but I can only take one song.
I just want each one of you to sing your songs to the best
of your ability. Good luck, everyone.
The song for me that is going to
get it is the song that seems to make history leap out at you
and make you really feel like you are proud, like,
you want to respect the soldiers, like, you want to be part of it.
That's the song I'm looking for.
To help Gareth make his big decision
are two guest judges from the music industry.
The first is me, Katy B.
I'm hoping to bring my experience as a songwriter to the panel.
I'd really just like to see someone
who yet is connected to the lyrics, is connected to
who kind of isn't worrying too much about what is going on around.
Joining us at Music HQ is Jake Gosling, a multiplatinum music
producer who has worked with One Direction and Ed Sheeran.
When I first heard about this, I was like, "This is a massive challenge."
So I'm... You now, I feel for them.
I'm like, "This is going to be quite an incredible thing to hear."
It's a very tough thing that I'm asking them to do.
-What makes a good song for you, Katy?
-I love to hear a story.
I love having different parts of the song, like visually,
someone taking on a journey. I love that.
Jake, you work with some of the biggest stars in the music
industry, what makes a song stand out for you?
For me, it's just all about the connection.
You've got to have that connection with the audience,
with the listener.
-I'm feeling nervous on their behalf now.
-OK, shall we get the first one in?
-Let's do it.
First up is 12-year-old Sid,
one of the most creative musicians in the group.
In the past,
he has sometimes struggled to take his song writing seriously.
-Nobody is going to cry? Just Sid.
-You can't carry on?
I'm concerned that he can sometimes be a bit silly
and kind of mess around.
Will his World War I song have the sincerity we are looking for?
# I hope you know
# What they did for us
# I hope you know
# And understand
# So look at us now
# United by what we faced
# Just look at how
# In the end we still embraced
# They built our future
# In their time
# So look at us now
# And don't let it go to waste
# Oh, yeah
# Don't let it go to waste. #
-Nice, wasn't it?
-He's got a beautiful voice.
My performance went really well
and I think I really did the song justice.
It was my best performance so far.
Next up, it's one of the most experienced performers, Jasmine.
When she first met Gareth,
her knowledge of World War I left a lot to be desired.
I think it lasted for 37 days.
-No, it didn't, it was four years.
Has she learnt enough to write a song that fits
the historic occasion?
# Soldiers fought for us
# And risked their lives for us
# And hope was all they had
# To get by
# To get by
# The war ends
# The peace came
# And the poppies grow
# From loudness comes silence
# Now we'll head home
# The war ends
# The peace came
# And the poppies grow
# From fighting comes friendship
# Now we'll head home. #
-Very nice, yes!
I'm really happy with my performance,
I think it went really well.
I think it sounded really professional.
It did sound really pro, yeah.
It sounded really crafted.
Facing us next is Molly,
a classically trained singer with a flawless voice.
In her past performances, she has struggled to show emotion.
I think your voice is so lovely.
-Sometimes I look at you and you look quite serious.
-I don't mean to be.
The thing is, I love singing, but I concentrate
and I just forget to show it on my face.
Will her World War I song be moving enough for such an important event?
# Soldiers marched away
# Families hoping they would be safe
# At Flanders Field and the Somme
# Now the poppies still stand strong
# Four years went by
# Flags painting the skies
# The tears will dry
# We will stand together
# Friendship and unity
# One community
# We move forward as one. #
-Well done, Molly.
Yeah, it went quite well.
I think I could've done better, but I think I did OK.
-I really liked some of these lyrics a lot.
-Yeah, me too.
Yeah, I thought the same.
Ben is the next young talent to put his commemorative song to the test.
He is a charismatic performer,
but his fidgeting on stage has been a worry to Gareth.
Ben, you can't seem to stand still for a second. It's just like...
You've just burnt the bottom of your feet or something.
Can he keep his composure now when it really counts?
# Sun or rain, does it matter?
# They both lead to pain
# Front or behind, does it matter?
# There's nowhere to hide
# Throw your things into that trench
# And smile your face away
# Always laugh and never cry
# And hope today's the day
# Today's the day that we can say
# That the war's finally over
# Today's the day that we will sail
# Towards the Cliffs of Dover
# Let's take a moment now just for one thing to remember
# Serve your duty well
# And our respect will never end. #
Great. Really good.
Feeling so good.
I just want to do it again and again and again and again and again.
It was actually so fun.
-I love that chorus.
-Because it kind of had that swing to it.
Yeah, it's really nice.
Molly from Huddersfield has an amazingly powerful voice.
But in front of Conor Maynard, she was one of the singers who
struggled to remember the words and melody.
Guys, uh, did that go perfectly?
It was really awkward, forgetting the words,
but, um, yeah, I think we did well to carry on.
If she forgets her lyrics here, her song won't stand a chance.
# Once there... # Oh, can I start again?
The nerves have got to Molly. Can she pull it together?
# Where once was war
# Now there's peace
# The battle is over
# The friendship has won
# The tides, the mud
# Now the poppies blossomed path
# Their lives were taken
# They fought, they fell
# Stand up
# Be proud
# They were all our heroes
# The light, the peace
# We walk ahead as one. #
Well done, Molly.
-I love it.
Because I had to start again,
I think it went quite badly, to be honest.
I feel a bit, like, emotional, sort of thing.
-Yeah, it had the drama to it.
Last but not least, it is 11-year-old Sam,
the youngest of the songwriters.
Learning about World War I has had a big impact on him.
It's quite sad cos it's, like, the dad writing to his son.
He doesn't know what it will be like in France when he's fighting.
But has he been able to turn his experience into a song that
reflects the time?
# On French soil now, rifle in hand
# Fighting for my country
# My country that I had
# To leave behind
# Those who fought in war
# Shall all come together
# Soon the war will end
# And there will be peace in every nation
# And I hope in time
# That they will remember the soldiers that fought and fell
# In the Great War. #
I really sort of felt like he got into character there.
-Yeah. Don't you think?
All of the songwriters have done themselves proud.
But now it is out of their hands.
OK, the moment of truth, it's decision time.
Gareth can only choose one of the six songs for the group to
perform at the World War I commemoration in Belgium.
What about this one?
I really liked parts of it, but just not all of it.
Definitely the lyric at the end, I felt, didn't quite fit, did it?
How about him?
-I just see great potential in him.
-Yeah, me too.
There was a really sort of unusual melody,
which I thought was really beautiful.
This is not an easy decision.
Because I think a lot of the songs had very, very strong elements.
I do feel a sense of responsibility to choose the right song.
Is there one song for you that leaps out?
I'm sort of torn between two.
-I know what one I like.
-You're there. Where are you?
Do you know what? I am leaning towards this.
Now it is just a question of making that decision.
-I've got a feeling this with that whole chorus...
-You can feel it?
-I can feel it.
-Yes, I think that's it.
I think we've made a decision, and I think it is a good decision.
-Good work, team.
OK, come back in.
Weeks of hard work and now it has all come down to this -
which song will be representing the nation?
Firstly, can I say, thank you very much.
We all really enjoyed the performances
and I think for all of us it was actually a really difficult decision.
-Yeah, I was so blown away just by everyone's talent.
The music in general was really, really,
really strong and I enjoyed every single performance so much.
You've gone away, you've written these songs, lyrics, melodies,
you worked really hard, so well done.
I felt really proud of you.
I know where these songs started and I know how far they've come
and how much crafting and working that it's taken.
Really pleased. And thank you.
It's crunch time.
The song we've chosen is...
..Stand Up Be Proud, by Molly.
Congratulations, well done. A fantastic song, well done.
I just can't believe my song is going to represent the nation.
It's just beyond words.
I just can't even describe how I'm feeling right now.
Sometimes you hear a song and you can just imagine it in the occasion,
and I could really tell that
when Molly sang that song, that everyone is going to get behind it.
It's the right decision.
I'd be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed, but I am also really,
really pleased for Molly, cos her song really, really deserves it.
The experience with Gareth and everybody has been amazing.
It has been the best thing that has ever happened to me.
Thank you so much!
I am really excited about the next part of the adventure and I'm
just glad that we're all going to be able to sing together again.
Very well done, Molly.
I think yours just picked it because it's an anthem and it feels really
strong, and we all had an instinctive emotional reaction to that.
So very, very well done.
And of course now, it is no longer just about you,
it becomes our song, and we're all going to sing it together.
Very, very exciting.
Now as a very special treat for all the hard work we've done,
Katy is going to sing her single Still.
# You chose the simple life
# My love was way too much for you
# To bear
# And left our world to end right there
# But I still hear you whispering
# My name
# Surely there's a part unchanged
# How could you be so far away
# When I still seek your face
# Like it was only yesterday
# And although you're out of sight
# Would you still be the same
# If I was next to you tonight
# Still on my mind now
# You still know how to make me feel
# How come these wounds...? #
'The songwriters have achieved so much,
'but there is still work to be done.
'Next time, they perform Molly's song together at the commemoration
'of one of the biggest events in world history.'
Having the young generation singing there, singing about the future,
singing about hope that comes out of such a terrible
time in our history, I want to get that right.
So I feel a great responsibility, actually.
# You're still on my mind now Still. #
It is the final week of songwriting at The Big Performance HQ and the young singer-songwriters are hard at work finishing their WWI commemorative songs. In just 24 hours they will each have to perform what they have written and only one of their songs will be chosen for The Big Performance in Belgium.
To help Gareth pick the right song for this momentous occasion, he is joined by singer-songwriter supreme Katy B and one of the music industry's most influential producers, Jake Gosling. The kids have time for one last history trip to Brookwood Military Cemetery, which is the final resting place for hundreds of soldiers who fought in the war. It is a sobering place, and the perfect location for the singer-song writers to reflect on what they've written.
Whichever song is chosen will be sung by all the kids at an international event, with Prince William, Prince Harry and the Duchess of Cambridge in attendance. So far the group have only performed at Music HQ, so Gareth takes them for an impromptu gig at Radio 1. Will their song pass the live lounge test for DJ Dev Griffin? The kids have spent the last five weeks immersed in all aspects of World War I from life in the trenches to a 1914 school lesson, as well as honing their writing skills by penning songs for big-name stars such as Pixie Lott and the Vamps. Now they must put what they have learnt into practice. Judges Gareth, Katy B and Jake Gosling will decide who has written the song that sums up the feelings of a nation in honouring those who fought in World War I.