A Grammy, a J-Lo hit, a collaboration with Harry Styles, a flash car and a house with a backyard in LA. It’s a good time to be Meghan Trainor, writes Shilpa Ganatra.
Imagine the scene: it’s 2014, the summer is ending, routines are returning, so obviously the weather is fabulous. Switch on the radio, and there’s only one tune doing the rounds.
It’s All About The Bass, of course, the earworm of an empowering anthem that floated to top of the charts for a full month, and lingered in our consciousness thereafter.
The culprit, Meghan Trainor, is at it again, penning songs describing what it is to be a millennial gal.
Now that we’re comfortable with our body image, with current single ‘No’ she’s spreading the good word about being single and loving it.
“No is a big-ass word,” she says, relaxed as if at home, though in her record company’s offices in London.
“I know it’s two letters but it’s a strong word. It’s powerful, and we should say it more.
“The situation is that it’s in a club and I just want to dance with my friends. I used to go to clubs to find guys to date, like ‘my soulmate is here, I can smell it!’ But I needed to accept that I’m single and be okay with that.
"For a while I started wondering why I was single and what was wrong with me, and I’d hate for my 15-year-old cousin to think like that.”
If it’s not obvious, Meghan is an open book, which makes a welcome change to over-trained interviewees with on-script opinions.
Take for example, her cheerful hounding of fellow genre-appropriator Bruno Mars — she makes no bones whatsoever about wanting to collaborate with him.
“Every interview I get, I talk Bruno Mars,” she says, determinedly.
“He knows I want to write with him, but he’s very busy and I’m very busy.
"A lot of artists I meet and I’m instantly best friends with like Sam Smith, but then I haven’t seen him in a year.
"I just saw Taylor Swift, and we both had changed our number, so we swapped email addresses instead. It’s hard to keep in touch, especially when you’re both really famous.”
Before that comes across like a Zoolander line, in the confidence/arrogance dichotomy, Trainor remains firmly on the side of confidence.
Rightly so — as is often the way with overnight sensations, she spent her formative years in Nantucket, Massachusetts perfecting her songwriting, with the fame aspect arriving as a happy accident.
Writing her first professional tune aged 13, she began to take part in a number of songwriting conventions, eventually self-producing two albums which led to a publishing deal aged 18.
This took her to Nashville, where in one songwriting session, she and creative partner Kevin Kadish came up with All About The Bass.
Once music impresario LA Reid heard it, the weight of Sony Records fell behind it, ensuring it went to number one in 19 countries, sold 11m units in the year of release, won her a Grammy, and earned 1.3bn (yes, billion) views on YouTube for its supremely watchable video, all while her friends were fresh out of college.
Such is her gratitude that the album is entitled Thank You.
“I’m 22 years old, I’m so young and everything has happened for me. It wasn’t just me who made that happen, it was everyone else, so I’m dedicating my album to them,” she says, uncharacteristically on-script.
“I’m so grateful for it and I want to thank my mom, dad, fans, everyone who made my dreams come true.”
Talk to her about her gay following, and she returns to her usual mischievous self.
“I played ‘No’ to Ariana Grande’s brother Frankie [a TV and stage celebrity], who’s like super gay. He wrote back ‘the gays say yaaas kween!’”
Meghan’s confidence-not-arrogance is evenly matched by her ambition.
Take, for example, the subject of album collaborators, a salient point as singers are often judged by the company they keep.
While many artists make weak plays for guest appearances and decline to talk about their failed bids for fear of the internet headlines, Meghan doesn’t give a hoot.
“I reached for the stars,” she says, as if it would be crazy to do otherwise.
“I said where’s Bruno, where’s Beyonce, where’s Jay-Z. I asked for everybody. But a lot of people are busy working, or they weren’t able, or they couldn’t fit it in.”
All in good time, she believes, particularly as she’s proving herself as more than a one-hit wonder.
Thank You, which she co-wrote, moves away from the doo-wap retro of her first album and offers a more contemporary urban style instead, though it’s not without classic ballads and magnetic pop.
“The doo-wap was just one of my genres, and it’s the one that caught fire first,” says Meghan.
“So this time around I wanted to show people I can do everything. I’m trying to prove that I’m a much bigger songwriter than everyone thinks.
"I have this album, and I’m about to have a number one song on the country chart with Rascal Flatts, and I’ve written J-Lo’s new single.”
Ah yes, that would be ‘Ain’t Your Mama’, another empowering tune about girlfriends not being mother-replacements, the only problem being that it was produced by the most hated man in music Dr Luke, who prompted the #FreeKesha campaign (Meghan later explains Jennifer Lopez didn’t know about his involvement, and Dr Luke worked with Trainor years before the controversy).
Regardless, it’s a coup for Meghan. How did it come about?
“Jennifer Lopez has been reaching out to me for years, she loved my songwriting and she said would you please do my new album with me, I’m signing with your label,” Meghan explains.
“I had ‘Ain’t Your Mama’. I texted it to her, saying ‘do you like this?’ And she freaked out. She loved it, her kid loved it, it’s a dream come true.”
A Harry Styles collaboration is in the works too; Meghan and the former One Direction star worked on a song, tentatively entitled ‘Someday Maybe’, which will “hopefully come out soon” she says.
Along with hitting the career goals, she’s enjoying the spoils of fame, though taking adult steps with her fortuitous position.
“I just leased my first car,” she grins.
“I got a cool Range Rover. I know it’s not as fancy as a sports car, but I like a big meaty car where I can survive a crash.
"And I’m about to buy a house in California. It actually has a backyard, which is rare in LA.”
To surmise: that’s two major label albums, a Grammy, a J-Lo hit, a collaboration with Harry Styles, a flash car and a house with a backyard in LA.
Clearly, it’s not a bad time to be Meghan Trainor.
Thank You is out on May 13.
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