Title (Special Edition)
With its irrepressible energy, body-positive message, and audacious combination of hip-hop, doo-wop, and girl-group pop, Meghan Trainor’s "All About That Bass" was one of the most unexpected and most welcome hits of the 2010s. The single’s smash success in 2014 was also a sweet vindication for a young artist who initially faced a wave of rejections for being wilfully out-of-step with contemporary pop trends until she found a champion in music-world legend L.A. Reid. Though Trainor was barely out of her teens when she had her breakout, the Massachusetts-born singer and songwriter had already spent years immersed in music, doing summer programs at the Berklee College of Music, releasing her own indie albums, and writing songs for Nashville acts, including Rascal Flatts. Released six months after Trainor’s debut single took off, her first major-label album, Title, confirmed her status as a delightfully idiosyncratic new talent, one who continually proved that the musical genres and styles of yesteryear could have a place in the present. A cheeky ode to old-school romantic ideals by Trainor and "Bass" co-writer and producer Kevin Kadish, "Dear Future Husband" is a gleeful throwback to ‘50s pop and The Beach Boys’ sunniest sing-alongs. On "Lips Are Movin," Trainor adds the same modern flair to a Broadway-ready tune and performance that feels straight out of Bye Bye Birdie. A beautifully spare but still rich-sounding duet with John Legend, "Like I’m Gonna Lose You" reaches back to the soul ballads of Motown’s golden age for inspiration. Nor is it hard to hear traces of the Caribbean influence that comes more strongly to the fore in later albums, a nod to her teenage years performing in her aunt and uncle’s soca band. There are plenty more R&B, jazz, and country flavors to be found throughout Title. Yet the songs always feel entirely of their moment thanks to Trainor’s knack for instantly sticky melodies and her outsized persona, which can somehow be mischievous, wholesome, powerful, and unapologetic all at once. Proving the success of "All About That Bass" was anything but a fluke, Trainor makes sure her music comes with all kinds of curves.