Meghan Trainor is not a Great Lyrics Writer

Meghan-Trainor-Title-2014-Standard-1200x1200Meghan Trainor has made it pretty big recently.  You probably heard songs like All About that Bass and Title.

A lot of the talk about Meghan is less about her music, and more about the fact that she’s fat and sings about being fat.  Of course, it’s formulated as if she’s curvey and sings about how you should have a positive body image, and I’m all about that (bass), but is that really true?  Well, according to this super-reliable source, Meghan is 77 kg and 157 cm.  That gives her a BMI of 31.2, or well in the obese category.  That’s the category where you get warnings about hypertension, diabetes and heart failure.  It’s no longer just about that bass and being curvey.

I’ve been in that category, and while I afterwards am very happy to have left it, with exercise and sort-of healthy intake it really isn’t too bad; she probably shouldn’t have unsupervised access to the cookie jar.  That is not too important, though.  The problem is that her song is not about being obesecurvey and accepting that because as long as you feel ok with it, it is your own thing, but it’s ok because (from the lyrics of All About that Bass):

Yeah, my mama she told me don’t worry about your size
She says, “Boys like a little more booty to hold at night.”

So, just down that Big Mac and don’t worry about you being hypertension-bait, not because you’re happy, but because the boys will love you anyway. What kind of message is that? There’s no empowering people here, there’s really just angsty teenage need for acceptance.

It may sound like I hate the song and it’s message; that’s not the case.  Her songs are incredibly catchy, and I listen to them a lot (as the 248 play-count for all the released 5 songs in my iTunes proves).  Just don’t tout her as a brilliant writer daring to go against the established standards.  Heck, in this interview she herself says that:

I just wrote a song. I’m not saying this is how women should feel – I just wrote a song and funny, clever lyrics, and that’s how I look at it. And if people can relate to it, that’s awesome.

I’m a 20-year-old girl, and I don’t know a lot about all that stuff and don’t want to be labelled as anything at such a young age. I totally agree with equal rights and women’s causes and most of my songs are woman-power, but I don’t want to be labelled at 20 years old.

I agree except for the part about her lyrics being clever. Heck, her song Close Your Eyes has a much more positive message, but has a slightly less in your face message, and is also a slower song, so probably less suited for a single.

The second part of the quote is about feminism. I see that in a lot of her songs. Let’s look at Title, the title song to her Title titled album, which is incredibly up-beat and catchy. Except the lyrics, which are a little creepy…

Don’t call me boo
Like you’re some kind of ghost
If you don’t want me seeing other guys
Well, here’s what you need to know

Baby, don’t call me your friend
If I hear that word again
You might never get a chance to see me naked in your bed

Give me that title, title
Come on give me that title, title

Sure, on the one hand this can be hand-waved as looking for a commitment, which is entirely understandable fair, but it can also be seen as a slightly-too-clingy girlfriend. Again, taking her comment from the interview above into account, I’m very partial to the interpretation that it is just funny lyrics written by a teenager, but considering her song Dear Future Husband where she goes all bridezilla, I’m not so sure…

I think most sane persons agree that a Stepford wife is not an ideal to strive for, but steering directly into to opposite ditch is not empowerment, equal rights or anything like that, it’s just completely bonkers. The entire lyrics to Dear Future Husband serves a warning that Meghan’s first marriage is going to last less than a year if in any way taken literally. Here’s a little representative nugget:

After every fight
Just apologize
And maybe then I’ll let you try and rock my body right
Even if I was wrong
You know I’m never wrong
Why disagree?
Why, why disagree?

Maybe I’m just old-fashioned, but isn’t it better to build a relationship on honesty, love and respect instead of crazy? Of course, Lips Are Moving gives a hint she might have been cheated on in a prior relationship, which is of course terrible and devastating to trust.

I may seem very glass-half-empty on Meghan Trainor, but that’s really just to counter all of the glass-is-so-half-full-it’s-overflowing bible-reading of her lyrics. From her interviews she seems like a fun girl just writing songs for the fun of it (and also because she’s making her own money doing that – respect for that).  A few of them really stroke me the wrong way; All About that Bass because I’ve been obese myself and don’t really see a need to somehow make obesity seem okay. Every time I saw a study claiming that being overweight was better than being underweight I took that as an excuse not to strive to lose weight. Losing weight is not a goal in itself, but as a society obesity is a bigger problem than being underweight (unless you happen to be from a 3rd world country, in which case why are you using the internet instead of looking for food?). People should 100% be comfortable being who they are, but I’m not so sure we should tell people obesity is just an aesthetic problem. The Bridezilla SongDear Future Husband is just plain crazy, and the crazy leaks over and impacts Title for me, even if it is other a nice song with a mostly sympathetic message.

But the most important thing, I think, is to take the songs in the spirit Meghan expresses herself: “I just wrote a song and funny, clever lyrics, and that’s how I look at it.” Maybe don’t cherry-pick your quotes to make them promote your message? Maybe don’t assume or pretend they are full of profound meaning? Meghan is just 20 years old and her lyrics have a bit of split-personality between what is intended message and what is just “fun.” Her lyrics are mostly the crap you’d expect from a 20-years-old, but her songs are very catchy. Maybe that’s enough, and in any case she’s got time to grow as artist. Possibly not weight-wise, though, because even if she has said:

“Not really,” said the singer about if there’s any expectations placed on her to look a certain way. “There’s no diets planned and there i no you gotta work out … I don’t do that. I ate pizza yesterday and I am eating Chinese food later today. It’s gonna be great.

Chances are that now that she’s famous that’s gonna change and she’ll turn into a Hollywood-“fat” celebrity down the road curtesy of her record label because, as she said:

I didn’t know makeup and hair stuff. My friends had to tell me what a straightener was. I didn’t know fashion or any of that until the label gave me a stylist.

In a sense that’s hilarious given that I genuinely believe that her message was accept who you are, and I liked that message. I urge Alanis Morisette to study this case of actual irony.

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