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Review: Meghan Trainor Draws a Blank on ‘Title’

4
SPIN Rating: 4 of 10
Release Date: January 9, 2015
Label: Epic

“Every inch of you is perfect from the bottom to the top,” is the most important sentence Meghan Trainor will ever sing. Perfection doesn’t exist, so we might as well not beat ourselves up over our lack thereof, and it’s nice to be reminded of this in a song that’s quickly approaching 500 million YouTube views. Unlike One Direction, she doesn’t consider insecurity to be something that makes us beautiful, just something we all go through and she’s happy to repeat that we shouldn’t. The second-most important lines she’ll ever sing concern the conventional attractiveness of thin-bodied women, which she dismisses as if it’s a kink she’s not down with: “So if that’s what you’re into, then go ahead and move along.” Five-hundred million people could stand to learn that not-thin women have standards, too. Being 2015, it sucks that they need to be reminded of this. But don’t shoot the messenger.

More than any other song in recent memory, “All About That Bass” is what it is. Yes, the skinny-bashing in Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” is less harmful, more of a you-can’t-sit-with-us aside than “Bass,” which actually implies they’re not wanted. Plenty of body-positive bloggers have already noted that the song places physical standards on women just as it strives to correct them, but it’s not for them. It’s for kids, Bar Mitzvahs, weddings, Blue Ivy Carter. Like it or not, the tune is now a part of history, and contrary to what this or any reviewer thinks, it will probably help more people than it hurts. But that doesn’t mean you should sit through the second consecutive release that Meghan Trainor has deigned to title Title.

Thing is, only the late Amy Winehouse managed to escape the retro-soul, big-band trap that OutKast (“Hey Ya!”) and Cee Lo (“Fuck You”) didn’t even try squeeze a second novelty smash from. Unless you treasure your copies of Christina Aguilera’s Back to Basics or Brian Setzer Orchestra’s The Dirty Boogie, you will not want to stick around to find out what Trainor does to “Runaround Sue” on “Dear Future Husband.”

Trying to modernize the Andrews Sisters and the Brill Building via callbacks to nine-year-old Justin Timberlake songs may help her stand out momentarily from her Auto-Tuned chart rivals. But that won’t make songs like the oldest-joke-in-the-book-ask-a-lawyer “Lips Are Movin'” any more compelling. Even though it’s a good bet that she’s read He’s Just Not That Into You, there’s still a song called “Title” because she wants the dude she’s fucking to give her one. Only “Mr. Almost” transcends her over-fussed style to give up so much as an addictive melody.

“Walkashame” typifies her personality problem even more than “All About That Bass,” by presenting the title sex scenario as something “everyone” has been through, and then apologizing for it because “daddy knows I’m a good girl” and blaming it on alcohol. If only she was as shameless lyrically as she is musically, she wouldn’t be feminist (who cares) but she’d simply be worth letting in your ear.

Title cries out for wit because “All About That Bass” is the oddest kind of fluke hit. We know this former Rascal Flatts songwriter can pen follow-ups; what we don’t know is if she will ever turn a phrase as memorable as “no treble” again. Trainor is trying to reach a generation who’s already got role models as varied and entertaining as Tina Fey, Miranda Lambert, Ke$ha, Amy Poehler, Queen Bey herself, and Lena Dunham. Even the standards for bourgeois feminism have been significantly heightened because people get, well, smarter! If Title ends up being a gateway for body-conscious adolescents to access any of the above-named, more power to it. But if she was actually as clever as her press release and titled the album It Girl With Staying Power, she might actually have staying power.