Is “All About That Bass” an offensive song? This seems to be the main Meghan Trainor comment/criticism/aspect of interest.
This isn’t a new question/concern as any song that reaches No. 1 that isn’t mind numbingly simplistic (see Williams, Pharrell) is accused of cultural appropriation, shaming or anti-feminism. “Bass,” a song and corresponding music video seemingly handcrafted for the Buzzfeed audience, has been vehemently accused of all three. But few people talk about whether or not it’s a good song.
Its lyrics are semi-inspirational, and the production has a vaguely rockabilly guitar combined with the handclaps that recall the last it girl before her and poppy jazz phrasing from so many decades ago that most can’t catch where she stole it from.
Every aspect of the song is reductive, but it’s likable enough. She obviously isn’t really attacking the skinny girls (“No, I’m just playin. I know you think you’re fat”), and the song comes across as well-meaning.
How does Trainor’s shtick fare over 12 tracks? Definitely less polarizing, but still very corny. “Dear Future Husband” is an interesting idea made significantly less interesting by its rigidly lame perspective on courting. “Close Your Eyes” and “3 AM” are listenable if unmemorable. “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” is a definite album highpoint, even if Trainor makes the classic rookie mistake of letting guest John Legend outshine her.
The second half of the album sounds like it was all quickly recorded after spring break in Jamaica and features a silly sounding Caribbean lilt. “Bang Dem Sticks” makes you ask, “Is stick a metaphor for something unprintable?” before figuring out that Meghan Trainor is mainly just enthusiastic about drumsticks.
“Walkashame” is a startling tonal shift. Before this song, Trainor explains she is not going to do the deed with “dem boys,” but in “Walkashame,” she defends herself when she does the deed, singing she had “a lot to drink, was just trying to be safe” and further talks about the “rum in my tummy, yum yum.”
“Title,” the song, further indulges the criticisms of her naysayers, as her attempts to be empowering come across as insanely demeaning. (“You gotta treat me like a trophy, put me on a shelf” is possibly the worst metaphor of all time.) “Lips Are Movin” returns to the bouncy bubblegum template set by “All About That Bass,” with “Girls rule, boys drool!!!” replacing “booty!” as the theme.
Trainor follows a swaggy white girl persona precedent set by Kesha, Miley Cyrus and Iggy Azalea before her. Despite not being the first to sing/rap with an affected intonation, “Title” doubled the sales of both Kesha and Azalea’s most recent albums.
I think the plastic soul “Title” is the kind of music Cyrus would have sung had she never left the House of Mouse. Its inner confidence motif is wobbly throughout, it’s never as catchy as its lead single and the instrumentation combined with Trainor’s put-on voice gives off a more musical theatre vibe than actual pop. “Title” is manufactured for and probably does appeal to a certain audience of (probably) young girls who will really appreciate having a pop star who speaks tumblr to them.