A DIFFERENT BEAT: Megan Trainor whose single, “All About That Bass” is now at number one on the Billboard Hott 100 Chart says her song is really soca music.
Interestingly the songs at number one and three on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart this week are both about the posterior and, more importantly, both connected to Trinidad and Tobago. Trini-born Nikki Minaj is at number three with her cheeky single “Anaconda” as she continues to fly the red, white and black globally in her unique zany way.
The song standing at the top of the chart is “All About That Bass” by Meghan Trainor, who is from Nantucket, Massachusetts, and defined as an artiste who does pop, blue-eyed-soul and doo wop. Don’t tell Trainor that to her face, though, as she insists that her music is influenced by the music of Trinidad and Tonbago and her number one charting hit is soca.
Trainor says she was inspired and encouraged by her uncle, Tobago-born soca artiste Burton Toney, who is married to Trainor’s aunt. Toney, who lives in the United States, performed with the band known as Jackie Johnson’s Excel and later on Atlantik before he migrated. His own talent and passion for soca music served as inspiration for Trainor, who experimented with blending pop and other styles with soca to come up with this hybrid.
The recipe is clearly working: “All About That Bass” debuted at #84 and quickly rose to the top. The 20-year-old Trainor chatted with Billboard Magazine by phone from Los Angeles. Now based in Nashville she beamed about how thankful she is that “Bass”, co-written with and produced by Kevin Kadish, is not only quickly scaling multiple charts, but also making those entranced by it feel even better about themselves.
Here is the Q&A:
Billboard: In a rarity among musical artistes, you’re from Nantucket. You must have fond memories of growing up in such a picturesque place.
Trainor: I love it. I was born and raised there. I went to school there up until high school, when we moved to the Cape [Cod], although we kept our house [on Nantucket], so we would go back and forth.
Radio was my life growing up. Then, I started in our family band with my uncle, my father, my aunt and my little brother. We would go to The Chicken Box and all the bars and play. Those are the main places there for music.
My uncle is from Trinidad, so, ever since I was 7, I grew up listening to soca, the genre that’s from there. It’s my favourite sound. So, we put a band together and we would play soca … and then I would go up and play my little pop songs (laughs). It was fun!
What got you to Nashville, especially at a fairly young age?
My parents would take me to songwriting conventions all over, [to] Colorado and Los Angeles ... In Colorado – it was random – a country music publisher was there and she heard me. She decided to sign me right out of high school.
I was living with my parents until I was 19 and then I said, “Guys, it’s too hard to travel to LA from this island. It’s an all-day process and I’m getting tired!” So, I said, “Let’s move closer.” They liked Nashville, and my publisher was in Nashville, so I already had a base there. I love Nashville.
How has it been going from tranquil Nantucket to bustling Nashville? The opportunities to co-write must be amazing.
I’ve written two songs for Rascal Flatts’ Rewind album with Jesse Fraser and Shay Mooney [of Dan + Shay], “DJ Tonight” and “I Like the Sound of That”. It was our biggest dream come true.
Is it a stretch for you, as largely a pop artist, to write for a country act?
Since my father is a musician, as well, he taught me growing up that if you can play jazz, you can learn all instruments and write on them. He wanted me to be a songwriter that can do anything in any genre. I’m all about doing every genre.
So, at one point he said, “Girl, give me some country cuts!” I said, “All right, Dad, I’ll get you those country cuts, not a problem!” When I found out that Rascal Flatts was going to record those two songs, I called him up and said, “Dad, I got those country cuts you wanted. I did it!” (laughs) He was like, “Yes!”
So that helps explain how “All About That Bass” is a bit hard to categorise, sonically. Please give us the origins of the song, especially the chorus, which has a bit of a ‘50s/’60s doo-wop feel and really doesn’t sound like anything else that’s on pop radio right now.
That’s the best part. I remember when we pitched it as songwriters, everyone was like, “The chorus isn’t a big chorus.” You know how every pop song has that huge chorus? We were like, “No, that’s the catchiest part of the song! That’s our chorus and we don’t want to change it.”
So we kept it, and that’s everyone’s favourite part.
The title, and its imagery, is pretty fun, too. How did you come up with it?
You know how the bass guitar in a song is like its “thickness”, the “bottom”? I kind of related a body to that. My producer [Kadish] had the title and said that none of his prior co-writers could figure out what to relate that to. So, I said, “What about a booty? Let’s talk about that!” (laughs)
From there, it turned into, let’s do a song about loving your body … and your booty.
You’ve caused a bit of stir with one of the song’s lyrics: “I’m bringing booty back. Go ahead and tell them skinny b----es!”
Even with some of the “hate” comments I’ve seen, they’ve gotten a conversation going. But, I’m not bashing skinny girls. Some girls have commented, “I’m a size zero, so you must hate me.” But that’s not it at all!
There have been battles on my YouTube page, like, “You don’t know what she’s talking about. She’s actually saying, ‘I know even you skinny girls struggle’.” And that’s exactly how I feel.
Overall, the song’s message seems to be resonating so positively. Colbie Caillat has even Tweeted how much she likes it.
I cried when she Tweeted that, because I’m the biggest Colbie Caillat fan evah!
I wrote it for me, as well, because I’ve struggled with [body image] since I was very young. And, my best friend is a beautiful goddess, but she’ll pick on herself in the mirror. “My forehead’s too big,” or, “My shoulders go out too far ...”
So, if other girls can relate to the song, it makes me feel even better. It’s unreal that I’m kind of helping people.
Promoting positive body image in songs is a bit of a trend now, with your song, Caillat’s new single “Try” and John Legend’s new “You & I (Nobody in the World)” all having videos praising natural beauty.
I saw a feature on The Ellen DeGeneres Show about that model who was Photoshopped to have extra-long arms. I was like, this is getting out of control. Someone needs to say something!
So, when I got my record deal, and with this song, I was like, perfect, I have the opportunity to say something to the world. I’ll take it. This is the best message I could say.