September 13, 2013 9:00am PT by Sophie Schillaci
Songwriter Andrew McMahon Vies for Emmy in the Wake of 'Smash' Cancellation
Smash may be over, but singer-songwriter Andrew McMahon will vie for an Emmy Award at Sunday's Creative Arts ceremony for his original composition "I Heard Your Voice in a Dream."
The song is featured in Smash's off-Broadway production, Hit List, in which Karen (Katharine McPhee) steals music from her former lover (Jeremy Jordan) and becomes a pop phenom.
"I tried my best to approach it like I would any song that I would write for myself," McMahon, 30, tells The Hollywood Reporter. "I liked the theme and the idea of this guy who is still in love with this girl, even though she robbed him. It was a quick write."
Though he says his wife was a loyal fan of the show, McMahon was not familiar with the NBC musical until season-two showrunner Josh Safran suggested he submit work for consideration. "I certainly plugged in once I had a connection there," he explains. "I think they did a great job. I wish it could've kept going, because I would've loved to have worked on it more."
The ill-fated drama was canceled in its second season, after being plagued by bad press and even worse ratings. Knowing what he knows now about the end of the series, McMahon says he still would have signed on in a heartbeat.
"You can't know when you get involved whether or not something is going to fly," he says. "I think for me, it was a really amazing experience. And I know for a lot of people who worked on the show, it was a really great experience.
"It seems like maybe it was just a hard place to find a fit," he muses. "A show about Broadway on TV. I think there were already some things that made it difficult to sell, but truthfully, the show had so many loyal followers. And even today, everywhere I go, when people find out I wrote for the show, I'm so surprised by how many people freak out because it was their favorite show."
Among his other contributions to the soundtrack are "Reach for Me" and "I'm Not Sorry."
He adds: "I'm totally proud to have worked on it, and certainly this is the first major award nomination I've ever received."
The Jack's Mannequin and Something Corporate alum, who fought and beat cancer in his 20s, has been hard at work building his personal brand since breaking from his band last year. In late April, McMahon released The Pop Underground EP, his first musical offering under his own name. In the week leading up to the Creative Arts Emmys ceremony, McMahon spent his days locked away in a Topanga cabin without a cell phone, writing as much as possible for his next full-length.
"I have a massive personal fire under my ass right now, that's for sure," McMahon says. "In a sense, I feel like I did when I was transitioning from Something Corporate to Jack's. There was just so much on the line. When I was making that music, I think professionally I had so much to lose.
"I won't lie, it's not a fear-based pressure, because I'm really excited and I'm really content in the work that I'm doing right now," he continues. "But there is a sense for me right now that I have to make this next thing my calling card. It's going to be my first full-length under my name, and I want it to be my best record. I'm pretty hell-bent on it being so."
For the time being, McMahon is "shutting down" any opportunities to return to TV until he's past the "make or break" moment on his album. "It's certainly something that I'm open to and would be interested in doing. But once I get past my hands wrapped around [the album] and I'm feeling good, I will definitely be looking for more opportunities like the one I did with Smash, for sure."
In the meantime, fans of McPhee's delivery of McMahon's songs should be pleased to know that the songwriter found himself working with the American Idol alum on her forthcoming album.
"I'm not 'the guy' on her record or anything, [but] I ended up in a writing session with her and a couple guys on one song," he says, noting that the track in question may or may not end up on her final release. "She's awesome -- she's an amazingly talented person."
Listen to all three of McMahon's Smash contributions in the player below.