What Meghan Trainor Brings as an Artist

As a 22 year-old male Metalhead, I do not often find myself listening to pop. My primary exposure to the genre lies in my commute when I flip on the radio. One of the artists that caught my attention over the past couple months was Meghan Trainor. “All About That Bass” evoked mixed emotions in me, for I liked what she said more than how she sang. I am, after all, more at home listening to the likes of Napalm Death’s “Smash a Single Digit” or Cannibal Corpse’s “Encased in Concrete.”

Even so, something about Meghan Trainor remains refreshing to me. Her biggest single, “All About That Bass,” is based in societal concepts of beauty. On its face, “All About That Bass” falls in line with a number of other songs discussing beauty such as Jennifer Lopez’s “Booty,” which boasts a worthy and aesthetic posterior. Trainor takes beauty, juxtaposing her own definition with the concept built up by the culture around her.

Trainor’s hit single comes at a time where beauty has become a hotly contested issue. Nearly five years ago, “real size” models (a term which was has been used as an alternative to “plus size” models) were labeled a joke by the likes of Julien McDonald, Varun Bahl, and Rina Dhaka. Today, progress has been made on the behalf of real size models with Tess Holliday’s #EffYourBeautyStandards movement and the inclusion of Ashley Graham in Sports Illustrated as the first real size model in the magazine’s swimsuit issue. According to ABC News, even Tyra Banks has been critical of the plus size label.

When looking at “All About That Bass,” it is important not to only take away the physical meaning of the song. For that reason, I find it imperative to pair the single with “Lips Are Movin,” Trainor’s other radio favorite. “Lips Are Movin” takes the focus off the body and places it on behavior and attitude. In the single, Trainor condemns the subject of the song for being “just about this bass.” Herein lies a theme that emanates from both of Trainor’s hits: the value of self. “Lips Are Movin” clarifies the context of “All About That Bass,” stating that one’s body is not an indicator of their worth. These songs form a cohesion of value similar to how Tove Lo’s “Talking Body” and “Habits (Stay High)” illustrate a nihilistic worldview. Tove Lo’s music does not have the same theme of strength that Meghan Trainor’s does as “Habits” is written on breakup-based pity and dependence on a man that is no longer there (Am I the only one who sees a connection between Tove Lo and Twilight’s Bella?).

Even with the “skinny bitches” remark from “All About That Bass,” the two songs of focus in this blog speak to a larger demographic than those that have been considered “plus size” by society. Trainor even moves beyond beauty on a surface level as a topic. What lies at the core of Trainor’s songs is staying true to one’s self and to not allow one’s culture to determine what beauty truly is. One need not be an real or plus sized woman to adhere to the spirit in which these songs are written.


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