Mark my words, friends and enemies: While we sit satisfied with our own life choices, Meghan Trainor will have the last laugh. Deep down, you know this to be true.
Admittedly, I wasn’t always a Trainor fan. As a staunch opponent of both "All About That Bass" and making out with Charlie Puth onstage, I threw my hands up and distanced myself from the Trainor machine. I respected that she worked with Harry Styles, that she could hold her own vocally, and that she brought her dad to the Grammys, but I was unhappy with her anti-feminist views and quickly categorized her as a Young Woman Who Should Know Better. Then something caught my attention: Girlfriend wasn’t in The Squad™.
Ah yes, The Squad™. Unlike 85 percent of young female famouses, Meghan Trainor had failed to embed herself alongside Taylor Swift & Friends, despite what I can only assume are major societal and professional pressures to do so. Instead, she stood firmly on her own two feet, taking to the red carpet in sequined gowns and newly dyed hair (sans besties), and then crying shamelessly upon winning Best New Artist, without even a glance in T-Swift’s direction.
This is non-news, of course. But as Trainor’s momentum continued with the release of "No" (her single off her second studio album, Thank You, released today), she began proving herself as a young woman in charge of her career. (Which may also explain why she sounded off about feminism so liberally, or why she released a track like "Dear Future Husband" -- because if she’s the one making choices, nobody’s sliding in to say, "But what about no.")
This week we’ve seen what happens when someone steps in and trumps Meghan’s train (eh?) of thought. After claiming her video for "Me Too" was Photoshopped to excess, the singer pulled it and issued an explanation and apology on Snapchat before elaborating in a conversation with Howard Stern. Bold move! Even if the 'shopped video was part of a grander publicity scheme (presumably that video would’ve had to get approval from someone on Team Trainor before going online, right?), it’s genius. I mean, not only does body positivity fall in line with Trainor’s mantra, having her pull a finished product and condemn it to video hell makes her look like a complete badass. Which, this time last year, would’ve been the last word I’d have used to describe her. And now I’m not sure.
I can’t be the only one beginning to question everything I once held dear. Last month, Trainor appeared onstage with Nick Kroll and John Mulaney during their run of Oh Hello in Los Angeles, suggesting that she’s more than familiar with smart, interesting comedy. A few days later, she was warmly welcomed to BBC Radio 1 by Nick Grimshaw, who consistently sang her praises despite having a reputation for being, well, very honest about his thoughts on interviewees. Even more recently, we saw the reveal of Trainor’s own squad, populated by Sharon Osbourne and Ariana Grande. Clearly, she’s not as boring as we thought. Right?
Like Carly Rae Jepsen or Kelly Clarkson, Meghan Trainor has carved a path unique to herself. She is not defined by famous friends, famous relationships, or anything other than her own words and actions. She is not niche, she is not hip, she is not dangerous. Instead, she is like any of us -- simply trying her best -- but within an industry where merely doing you doesn’t tend to earn recognition.
Or at least that’s what we tell ourselves. To be interesting, we claim to need a hook. Justin Bieber needed to stage a redemption tour that has now spiraled into the makings of an emotional breakdown. Miley Cyrus needed to literally strip Disney away to shock us with her penchant for exhibitionism and pot. We believe we need to be kept wondering, kept hypothesizing, or kept worrying. We gravitate toward artists who offer something more.
But Trainor has earned a spot in that second camp — the one where Jepsen and Clarkson fit — of artists who are the musical manifestations of people with whom you went to high school and who you realized far too late were really funny or interesting. The ones who stayed off your radar, only to establish themselves professionally down the road (and subsequently kill it at any/all high school reunions). They get the last laugh.
I'm not saying you have to love Meghan Trainor. But I do think we’re only catching her at the start of a career that she seems to be very much in charge of. We’re watching her speak for herself, and sing for herself, and act and do for herself. That’s rare in a climate that’s defined by which Taylor Swift video you’ve appeared in. And rareness is usually an indicator for something bigger.
I mean, once upon a time, my friends and I rolled our eyes at "A Moment Like This" and shook our heads at Kelly Clarkson and her highlights. But 14 years later, we’re still talking about Clarkson’s voice -- having forgotten all things before Breakaway or, worse, From Justin to Kelly. I'll be watching to see if Meghan Trainor can pull off the same trick.