Fresh off her Grammy win for Best New Artist, Meghan Trainor disses those critical of her controversial image after her body-positivity hit “All About That Bass” in an aggressively cocky Thank You. The rest of the album is too lackluster to forgive the ungrateful tone it establishes, but it has just enough hits to maintain Trainor’s presence on the radio.
In the first track “Watch Me Do,” Trainor says she pays “no mind to her haters” while rocking her “nice curves, nice breasteses.” The confused blend of synthesizers and doo-wop horns feels jarringly out of place for a 2016 release. Combined with ego-centric lyrics uncharacteristic of Trainor, the song is a hot mess.
“Me Too” is a disappointing continuation of the same theme. “If I was you, I’d want to be me too” she says as she brags that her life is like a movie, her being a VIP complete with an entourage. This braggadocio commonly found in rap brings to mind Iggy Azalea, another popular singer who claims to bring originality to music while repeating its most uninspired tropes. The melody shows Trainor subscribes to the will.i.am. school of repetitive, artificial looped beats. It’s another miss.
The commercial-ready “I Love Me,” featuring LunchMoney Lewis, as the name suggests, covers the same ground with notably more creative lyrics. Lewis is a breath of fresh air with his spirited vocals. It’s surprising that a sophomore album titled Thank You would be so arrogant in the face of Trainor’s widely-questioned success, even if it’s in the name of self-love.
Disillusionment about love is a recurring theme of Thank You that isn’t explored as much as recognized in Trainor’s personal life. “Better,” featuring rapper Yo Gotti, sees Trainor returning to her Caribbean influences in a cool, tropical-breeze-at-twilight song. But the lyrics are one-dimensional, as they describe how Trainor deserves a partner who’s better. “Hopeless Romantic” is a similar, mundane lamentation about being lonely and pondering her missed opportunity to change her loneliness when she ignored a boy who opened a door for her at a party. Trainor does nothing to distinguish herself from the countless number of recording artists who have tackled this tired subject before her. The doo-wop ballad style she uses to deliver this heartbreak is all too familiar, replicating the sound of “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” from her debut Title. Additionally, the totally forgettable “Dance Like Yo Daddy” is in the same style as “All About That Bass” and “Lips Are Movin.” The originality of her sound is wearing thin by this point.
The second half of the album is decent enough to make the beginning bearable. “Kindly Calm Me Down” is solid, even if it sounds like many other pop anthems by female powerhouses. A more light-hearted mix between Christina Perri’s “Human” and Demi Lovato’s “Skyscraper,” the song is a lovely poem to a loved one to keep Trainor stabilized through hard times. The ukulele-driven “Just a Friend to You,” though sounding like it’s meant for a tacky Hawaiian cruise, manages to be touchingly sweet as it describes Trainor’s cliché struggles being stuck in the friend zone. “Won’t Let You Down” is a down-to-earth and catchy apology for not being there enough for someone you care about that I’m sure I will hear on the PA system during my next trip to the mall.
“NO” is the album’s saving grace. It recalls Britney Spears’s revolutionary debut that revived the teen-pop genre. The song isn’t just catchy — Trainor’s songwriting skills shine as she encourages women to be strong and stand up for themselves when creepy men make advances at the club. Trainor tackles this issue again in “Woman Up,” where she praises how women make themselves feel confident with heels and makeup while finding inner-strength from within, all to a foot-stomping beat. Good on her to find independence and integrity in traditional gender roles, I guess.
Love her or hate her, there is just enough hits on Thank You to ensure Meghan Trainor’s music will still be playing into the new year. Whether it will be due to her talents or novelty, however, remains to be seen.