Meghan Trainor wants to show she’s more than “All About That Bass.”
The body-positive anthem from this Massachusetts native was inescapable when it was released in 2014. Between its breezy catchiness and divisive lyrics -- it’s dismissal of "skinny bitches" yielded endless thinkpieces around the singer’s music — Trainor’s crafty doo-wop throwback was a monster, selling 11 million copies worldwide and earning nominations for song and record of the year at last year’s Grammys.
It’s the type of smash that can ultimately define an artist, and Trainor has been in the studio working to ensure that doesn’t happen.
A year after her equally exuberant debut album, Trainor was named best new artist at the Grammys and she’s prepping her new album, “Thank You,” which will be released on May 13.
“It’s a bigger deal for me than the song nominations,” Trainor said of her Grammy win. “New artist you can’t win again, you know? You can’t be nominated ever again. It’s the coolest thing I could have ever asked for in all my dreams.”
The album’s first single, “No,” sees Trainor speaking directly to the ladies again — but this time with a lot more fire on a song that sends a punchy message to the men who approach women and can’t take the hint when their advances are rejected.
“All my ladies listen up, if that boy ain’t giving up, lick your lips and swing your hips … all you gotta say is, my name is no, my sign is no, my number is no, you need to let it go,” Trainor sings on the bouncy, Ricky Reed-produced number that’s far more club-minded than her previous work.
Ahead of the single's release on Friday we talked to Trainor about her recent Grammy win and the upcoming album. Here’s what we learned:
She’s still recovering from the Grammys
Trainor’s emotional acceptance speech was the night’s most sincere moment. The 22-year-old was so taken aback by the win she didn’t even think she’d make it to the stage to accept the trophy.
“My heart felt like it was exploding in my chest. I’ve never had that feeling in my entire life of when you’re too happy. I thought I might die right now,” she recalls. “I just fell into my dad’s arms, I couldn't even hug him right, I just collapsed on him. He whispered in my ear, ‘You made it,’ while crying. It felt like I was in a movie.”
Fiery new single 'No' was a late addition to 'Thank You'
Her new single came after she went to play the album for Epic head L.A. Reid. She was excited to preview the material — until he told her she didn’t have anything that sounded like a first single.
“L.A. is famous for this, he will always sit down the artist at the very end and say you don’t have a single,” she says with a laugh. “He didn’t do this with my first one [2015’s ‘Title’] because I came in with ‘All About That Bass,’ but on this one he did. I told him I’m not going to write ‘All About That Bass’ 2.0. — I’m not going to give you another one of those. He was like, ‘I’m not asking for that, I promise, but I know you as a songwriter can do better and I know if I push you, you will do better.’ Trainor left the meeting angry, she said, but she took that energy and unleashed it on “No.” “We wrote this fiery anthem,” she said, “and it turned into a great women’s anthem.”
Recording 'No' changed the direction of the album
Although “No,” was originally meant to appease her label boss, the session with Reed, who is executive producing the album, inspired the two to keep going.
“We did like six more records after this,” Trainor said. “It was like unlocking a new world. My manager once called me an onion and said I have layers that I need to open and see. I guess this is another layer of my onion.” Trainor said the later sessions yielded what will be the album’s next singles. “They line up and go perfectly together,” she said.
She’s trying out different sounds — but the ukulele is here to stay
While “Title” had flashes of syrupy doo-wop, girl group-flavored pop, old school hip-hop and R&B, Trainor is exploring different sonics for her sophomore effort.
“It’s so different from the first one,” she said. “There’s a new hip-hop/urban sound, where I rap more; there’s the classic just me and a guitar sound — on a song called ‘Hopeless Romantic’ — and you’ll have me and the ukulele, I didn’t throw away the uke yet.” Trainor also teased an old school number called "Dance Like Your Daddy,” a song written for her mother and said the album will close with the title track. “It’s definitely a Meghan Trainor album, but it’s a more grown up, matured, intense Meghan Trainor,” she said.
Don’t expect her to fully ditch doo-wop
While the saccharine doo-wop harmonies made her debut a breezy, retro throwback, Trainor said it’s not going to be a throughline of “Thank You” — even if it took some convincing.
“I had three songs I really felt like could be the first single. I just knew they would be worldwide smashes — and they were doo-wopy,” Trainor explained. “My team said they were great but exactly what people will expect. I felt like why would you fix something that’s not broken? But they knew I had it in me. They’ve heard all the sounds I can do and all the songs that I’ve written that even the world hasn’t heard. I didn’t know if it would work, but I did it. And I even blew myself away. I didn’t know I had it in me. I guess it takes a little pissing me off.” Trainor didn’t completely eschew the sound, though, she confirmed there will be plenty of doo-wop on the deluxe version of the album.
For more music news follow me on Twitter: @gerrickkennedyCopyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times