AC radio – "Bass" lifts 20-18 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart – and Radio Disney, where the song was the national outlet's second-most-played (81 spins) in the week ending Sept. 28, according to Nielsen BDS, are also all about that bass.
Or, at least … a less lyrically-adventurous version of that bass.
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In the original recording embraced by pop radio, Trainor sings, "Yeah, it's pretty clear, I ain't no size two / But I can shake it, shake it, like I'm supposed to do." As edited for AC and Radio Disney (the latter of which reports to the Pop Songs panel), the latter line becomes the less overt, "But Imma make it, make it, like I'm supposed to do."
Similarly, "I got that boom-boom, that all the boys chase / And all the right junk, in all the right places" is softened to, "I got them smooth moves, they say I look great. Yeah, I'll be the star on all them big stages."
The song's trademark insight is also tweaked. In the original, Trainor relays, "Yeah, my mama, she told me, 'Don't worry about your size' / She says, 'Boys like a little more booty to hold at night.' " In the edit, mom's wisdom becomes more puritanical: "She says, 'Boys like the girls for the beauty they hold inside.' "
Thanks to its more deferential lyrics, "Bass" is making it at more stations (like it's supposed to do).
Such edits are a tradition at AC, where the consensus goal is to play "lyrics that won't embarrass you in front of your kids," per a longtime slogan on format leader WMJX Boston.
Perhaps most famously in recent memory, Cee Lo Green reached No. 13 on AC, and No. 1 on Pop Songs, in 2011 with "Forget You," a song that stood no chance at airplay with its original FCC-repelling lyrics (and title).
(Safer lyrics even reach much less conservative rock formats; Tom Petty's 1994 classic "You Don't Know How It Feels," for example, replaces the line, "Let's roll another joint," with the cleverly adaptive, and more law-abiding, "Let's hit another joint.")
With "Bass," Trainor's label, Epic Records, is seeking to maximize airplay for the most popular song in the country, one whose sound is a fit for AC and Radio Disney even if some of its lyrics (although not its message) might stretch programmers' comfort levels.
"It seemed like a no-brainer," explains Epic executive VP of promotion Todd Glassman of the decision to create a safer version of "Bass." "We had a proven hit at pop, adult pop and rhythmic radio."
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As with AC, lyric edits are commonplace for Radio Disney. "Artist and manager support for edits has been a process for us for many years. It's a way to ensure reach to our very targeted kids and family audience," says Radio Disney VP of programming/GM Phil Guerini. (He counts Fifth Harmony's "Bo$$," Nick Jonas' "Jealous" and MKTO's "Classic" as also having recently required rewrites before hitting Radio Disney airwaves.)
As Radio Disney identified "Bass" early on as a potential hit, Guerini worked with Epic on providing an edit. "Ultimately, Meghan re-recorded the song with revised lyrics of her choosing."
Since the channel began playing "Bass," it has "consistently been among our most requested songs," Guerini says, adding that Trainor was quickly invited for an on-air in-studio visit.
"She was an instant hit when engaging with our listeners."
AC is similarly reaping the benefits of avoiding any potential lyrical sensitivities.
"We were reluctant at first, but seeing how the song was exploding both locally and nationally, [program director] Steve [Petrone] and I felt we had to jump aboard," says Tom Furci, assistant PD/music director of AC WHUD Hudson Valley, N.Y. The station is now playing "Bass," in edited form, even on its love songs request show, "Night Rhythms," hosted by Kathy Millar. "The edit, for us, was certainly the way to go.
"And, so far, no one has mentioned that it's an alternate version.
"Our audience has immediately embraced the song."