Meghan Trainor is both an interesting and standalone artist, a she’s earned for reasons not necessarily related to her music. Trainor is multifaceted and, at times, a participant in strange on-stage stunts at award shows. Her third album, “Treat Myself,” will be released at the end of August.
Trainor rose to fame after her debut single, “All About That Bass,” was released in 2014. In it, Trainor sings that “it’s pretty clear” that she’s not a size 2 and calls out the magazine industry for falsifying female bodies with Photoshop. Trainor’s self-confidence is wonderful. The song was received well in part for its progressive, body-positive message.
However, critics noticed that some of Trainor’s lyrics in “All About That Bass” perpetuated the negative phenomena that the song itself was trying to combat. In its second verse, Trainor proclaims that she’s “bringing booty back,” so “go tell them skinny bitches that. No, I’m just playing, I know you think you’re fat.” Though Trainor is able to celebrate her body and defy societal constructs, she doesn’t allow the aforementioned “skinny bitches” the same freedom. She harshly assumes that they all think they are fat.
What could have been a feel good, self-love anthem became a dividing line between Trainor and the body-positive community. While attempting to uplift one population, Trainor instead ridicules body dysmorphia.
Similarly, Trainor has shown she has two sides. While most of her songs appear to be harmless and entertaining, many of them include subtle, damaging messages. Unfortunately, her new single “Let You Be Right,” from the imminent “Treat Myself” follows suit.
The song itself, like many other pop songs, is repetitive but catchy. Trainor’s lyrics are set to a fun disco beat; fittingly, she dances under disco lights in the music video. She wears a multiple fabulous ensembles, and, at points, parades around an arcade with back-up dancers.
The lyrics are where the problem lies. The song is split into four distinct sections. Trainor introduces the song’s predicament with “love me, don’t forget you love me. When I break things, make things, a little bit uncomfy.”
Initially, it seems as though Trainor is preparing her partner for some sort of mistake that she might make in the future. On its face, this statement seems neutral. Relationships are about compromise and acceptance, so it is plausible that Trainor might tell a partner that she expects them to accept her at her worst.
Her declaration might seem a little fairer if the listener knew that there was consistent and mutual understanding in whatever relationship Trainor is speaking of. Nonetheless, Trainor has immediately assumed the blame for whatever “uncomfy” situation ensues. In advance of whatever comes next, she’s decided to not implicate her partner at all.
She goes on to plead “baby, don’t hate me,” in the song’s pre-chorus. “You probably think I’m crazy,” she boldly exclaims. This is reminiscent of another Trainor hit that received incredibly mixed reviews, “Dear Future Husband,” off her second album “Thank You.” In it, she declares she should be treated “like a lady,” even when she is “acting crazy.”
At this point, the tone of “Let You Be Right” has taken a distinct turn. Trainor sounds insecure. Earlier, she clearly asked her partner to love her. Now, she’s asking them to “not hate” her. It seems Trainor is unable to stand behind her own actions, so much so that she’s unwaveringly taking the blame. To remedy this insecurity, she asks for love from her partner rather than forgiveness.
Trainor has described an over-dramatized relationship in which seems to have no confidence. When anything goes wrong, she checks in with her partner to make sure he still loves her, or to remind him to do so. No small disagreement or meaningless argument merits that sort of response. Given the playful nature of the song, things just don’t match up.
Trainor then requests, “don’t keep draggin’ this on and on, when you know that you’re wrong.” She’s definitely on the right track in suggesting they end whatever sort of tiff that has transpired. But, she’s disclosed to her partner (and the listener) that she is actually in the right.
This undermines Trainor’s initial concessions about herself and her behaviors. In effect, she’d rather put herself down and call herself “crazy” than actually work things out with her partner. As an adult and as a woman, that is not the correct plan of action, and certainly isn’t a message someone as famous as Trainor should be passing on.
To drive her point home, Trainor sings, “I don’t wanna fight tonight, I’ma let you be right,” in the song’s titular chorus. She’d rather skirt the issue and implicate herself instead of working it out. Her next move is telling her partner that the two of them can “make up,” if they kiss her “at the next traffic light.” It’s evident that the fight isn’t anything serious, but her instinct to immediately relinquish her power certainly is.
If Trainor is the one deciding when and how their fight ends, she seems to be in control. Yet, she still plays dumb. She continually blames herself and asks her partner for reparations that are either too grand (their love) or negligible (a quick kiss at the next traffic light).
Further digging herself into a hole, Trainor sings “trust me, I need you to trust me, ’cause I say shit I don’t mean, words for me ain’t easy” in the song’s second verse. Though she is withholding information from her partner, she insists they trust her. Then, instead of proving her credibility with fact, she undermines her own authority. As she’s explained it, words “ain’t easy” for her, she breaks things, and makes things uncomfortable.
It’s unclear on which issue Trainor wants her partner’s trust. Is she asking them to trust her about being in wrong, or trust her that she’s aware of her self-proclaimed inability to communicate?
“Let You Be Right” is a catchy song with a confusing mix of not-quite-right messages. The song’s overall impact may end up being small, but Trainor’s platform is quite large. Though it sounds like a fun tune, she jokingly sings about the merits of putting herself down to relieve tension in her relationship. And no matter how negligible that tension may be, actively working against herself by singing about being a “crazy” woman who isn’t good with words certainly isn’t the answer.
Music has an infinitely positive potential to shape cultural trends and standards. Given the ability of those in the entertainment industry to stand up for what’s right, Trainor’s music and messaging just doesn’t compare.
All in all, she had no obligation to play into to the recent girl-power kick that’s fortunately become the standard in pop music. That being said, it’s disappointing that she would work against it in any way. Trainor isn’t making a detrimentally big wave against what’s right, but her contribution isn’t very positive. No matter what type of disco beat her messages are set to, they’re a letdown.