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Pop Music is Changing, So Meghan Trainor Did, Too

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Meghan Trainor remembers exactly when she realized pop music was changing. It was the spring of 2018 and she was just starting to promote her third album, Treat Myself. Its lead single, “No Excuses,” had peaked at No. 46 on the Billboard Hot 100 — a solid showing, if lower than past lead singles like “All About That Bass,” which hit No. 1 in 2014 — and her team had turned their attention to its follow-up, a laid-back disco track called “Let You Be Right.”

“The label, management, my whole team were really confident in it,” recalls Trainor. “Radio guys were telling them, ‘It’s the only song that will work [off the new album].’ And for the first time I was like, ‘Alright, I'll do what you all want to do.’ ” As it turned out, “Let You Be Right” didn’t even crack the Hot 100. “That shit was wrong,” she says of her team’s prediction, forcing out a sneering laugh and adding: “Sorry, I’m getting fired up.”

So, Trainor went back to the drawing board. It wasn’t the first time she had something to prove: Following the viral success of “All About That Bass,” she says, “I was told to my face, ‘You’re going to be a one-hit wonder.’ ” Instead, she focused on her songwriting and went on to collect five more top 20 Hot 100 hits as well as a Grammy for best new artist in 2016. But when she returned to the studio to rework Treat Myself, however, she realized other writers and producers around her were all struggling to answer the same question: How do you make pop records that feel relevant in an era when hip-hop reigns? “They said, ‘We’re in the same predicament: We don’t know what to do, we don’t know what to write, we don’t know how to stay cool,’ ” says Trainor. “I wrote four albums [of material] because I was adapting to what’s going on in the music industry. I got into such a dark place of, ‘I don’t know how to follow all these rules.’ ”

As a result, on Treat Myself — out Jan. 31 on Epic Records — Trainor embraces pop’s streaming era by offering a variety of sonic approaches. Long associated with her wholesome, doo-wop-inspired sound, the 26-year-old approached her album like the playlists she grew up with, skipping around from futuristic funk (“Genetics,” which features the recently reunited Pussycat Dolls and has a chorus begging for TikTok memes) to hushed coffee-shop jams (“Workin’ On It,” featuring Lennon Stella and Sasha Sloan). And though Trainor has rapped on her songs before, she has found more natural ways to tap into what's happening in hip-hop along the way: The choir-like backing vocals on dark, throbbing tracks like “Babygirl” and “Wave,” she says, were inspired by her visits to Kanye West’s Sunday Service gospel events.

“I’ve heard weird opinions from everyone [about what the album should be], so I kept writing the best songs I could,” Trainor says while looking over a copy of the tracklist — she recorded so much material over the past few years that she couldn't remember exactly what made the final cut. “Every time I accomplished a new step in my songwriting world, my brain would go, ‘Uh-oh, the rest of the album needs to be this good.’ And finally I got to a place where my label and I were like, ‘Okay, I can't beat these songs.’ ”

In doing so, she embodies a class of artists, including Charlie Puth and The Chainsmokers, who have escaped from the shadow of a notorious, novelty-like hit and surprised audiences with material that was, if not more successful, at least more acclaimed — and abundant. Just as those artists have embraced free-flowing singles and unconventional rollouts, Trainor maintained a prolific pace while recording Treat Myself: She released an EP (last February’s The Love Train), contributed to a handful of soundtracks (from the comedy The Hustle to the animated Playmobil: The Movie) and collaborated with artists like CNCO and Kaskade. More recently, she started writing original Christmas songs that she hopes to release later in 2020. 

Billboard

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45 minutes ago, Ruthless Love said:

But when she returned to the studio to rework Treat Myself, however, she realized other writers and producers around her were all struggling to answer the same question: How do you make pop records that feel relevant in an era when hip-hop reigns? “They said, ‘We’re in the same predicament: We don’t know what to do, we don’t know what to write, we don’t know how to stay cool,’ ” says Trainor. “I wrote four albums [of material] because I was adapting to what’s going on in the music industry. I got into such a dark place of, ‘I don’t know how to follow all these rules.’ ”

I felt sorry for her cause this is actually 100% true dead2 If you won’t release trap-influenced “bop” you can only dream of scratching top 20 of BB100

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All I read was “Christmas Album” 2020. nicki5

Anyhow aretha1

The Trend is never your Friend. She and her label, need to stop following trends in music and just do what feels right. An album full of personal songs is 1000 x better than the latest feature act. nicki4

 

 

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This was a fascinating read. It's interesting to hear that pop artists and producers are in such a stump because of the current music scene.

 

 

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I’m glad she seems more confident with what the album is going to be this time. I’m excited to hear it!

3 hours ago, Royalty said:

LOL lmfao2 why wasn’t this posted in bg

Because this is an open and honest interview, not shade or battlegrounds worthy at all.

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4 hours ago, ajp said:

All I read was “Christmas Album” 2020. nicki5

Anyhow aretha1

The Trend is never your Friend. She and her label, need to stop following trends in music and just do what feels right. An album full of personal songs is 1000 x better than the latest feature act. nicki4

 

 

I agree, but if you're recording enough material to create four albums in the space of the year, I doubt you're in the business of creating personal songs nicki5

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4 minutes ago, Sleep Deprived said:

I agree, but if you're recording enough material to create four albums in the space of the year, I doubt you're in the business of creating personal songs nicki5

All the personal songs were rejected by EPIC nicki5

 

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2 minutes ago, ajp said:

All the personal songs were rejected by EPIC nicki5

 

orangu1

You need say no more, sis.

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I adore 'Wave' is that a popular opinion here? I've found her albums a little ropy though so fingers crossed the time taken has produced quality tracks.  Surely there is a solid album within those four she has recorded?! haha

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