The Power of No

What Meghan Trainor is all about for her sec­ond al­bum... and, no, it’s not “that bass.”

ELLE (Canada) - - Radar - BY sarah laing

when Meghan Trainor stood on­stage to ac­cept her Grammy for Best New Artist in Fe­bru­ary, her eyes were so filled with tears that she couldn’t ac­tu­ally see any­thing—ex­cept for a very blurry L.A. Reid’s head and glasses. It was only when she saw the out­line of the record exec who had dis­cov­ered her that she re­al­ized the mo­ment was re­ally hap­pen­ing and she’d bet­ter start thank­ing peo­ple.

“That mo­ment be­fore they an­nounced the award was like when you’re at the top of a roller coaster about to go down,” re­calls Trainor over the phone from Los An­ge­les. “I was ex­cited, but I also wanted to throw up. And then I re­mem­ber my dad cry­ing and whis­per­ing in my ear ‘You made it’ and then go­ing and giv­ing my speech and then just cry­ing all night.”

Her dad whis­per­ing that phrase in Trainor’s ear was a bit of an in­side joke be­tween the two: At ev­ery junc­ture in the 22-year-old’s ca­reer, from sell­ing her first com­po­si­tion as a song­writer to some­how mak­ing the tran­si­tion from the singer be­hind a song about “bring­ing booty back” (“All About That Bass”) to a bona-fide pop star with a le­gion of megafans (a.k.a. Me­ga­tronz), she’d say “I made it, Dad!” and he’d say “Yeah, you made it, baby.”

When we talk to the Nan­tucket, Mass., na­tive, she’s in the mid­dle of re­hearsals for the iHeart Ra­dio Mu­sic Awards and jokes about “fi­nally” get­ting to have fire as part of her act. “You know you’ve made it as an artist when they let you have pyro,” says Trainor, laugh­ing.

In all se­ri­ous­ness, how­ever, Trainor is get­ting ready to pro­mote her new al­bum, Thank You (out May 13), with a sense of le­git­i­macy as an artist she didn’t have the first time around. “I never knew that I could do this and pull it off and be the face of the songs I write,” ex­plains Trainor, whom Rolling Stone dubbed “2014’s most un­likely pop star.” “The Gram­mys just gave me an award for be­ing best new artist, and it is every­thing to me. It in­spired me to go twice as hard the sec­ond round.”

For her sec­ond al­bum, Trainor wanted to push her­self out of her “doo-wop” com­fort zone and, you know, write “clas­sic pop songs that will last for­ever.” “That’s my goal ev­ery time I write a song,” says Trainor, who is noth­ing if not sure in her abil­i­ties with lyrics and a tune. “I want them to be played in 100 years.” Her pick, by the way, for the like­li­est song on her al­bum to still be sung in a cen­tury is “Just a Friend”: “It’s a ukulele song with just my vo­cals,” she says. “It’s about fall­ing in love with your best friend and it can never be, and it just breaks your heart.” And, yes, that’s def­i­nitely based on re­al­life ex­pe­ri­ence. “My songs are hon­est and bru­tal,” she says. “My best friend dur­ing this whole al­bum process told me that I say things in my songs that peo­ple want to say but don’t know how.”

She feels she reached peak-“Meghan telling it like it is” in “Hope­less Ro­man­tic”: “I talk about how the movies lied to me my whole life. Love is not The Note­book; it’s not that sim­ple.” Or maybe it’s in her hit sin­gle “No,” which is all about fend­ing off un­wanted male at­ten­tion. “It says ‘If I want a man, then I’ll get a man, but it’s never my pri­or­ity,’” she says. “I’m so proud of that line.”

But, says Trainor, the song she worked hard­est on is “Watch Me Do,” a swag­ger song if ever there was one. “It took me two days to do; I’ve never spent that long on a song,” she says. The time, she ex­plains, was mostly spent try­ing to pre­vent the song from com­ing across as too full of it­self. “You have to be care­ful with the lyrics be­cause you don’t want to sound like an ass­hole—like, ‘Watch me do; I’m per­fect.’ You can’t do that. You can be con­fi­dent, but there’s a limit for sure.” n

“That’s my goal ev­ery time I write a song. I want them to be played in 100 years.”

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