When Jason Mraz was putting the finishing touches on his forthcoming album, Know., his buddy Andrew Wells suggested Mraz have a writing session with Meghan Trainor.
Wells had just finished working with Meghan on her own LP and thought the two would work well together. Mraz was done recording songs for his record but agreed to meet up anyway, unsure of what would come of the session. Little did he know, his time with Trainor in the studio would end up changing the game plan for his new LP. “We actually had to push back a few departments and their deadlines,” Mraz says. “Like ‘Sorry, we’re gonna put one more thing on here.'”
That one more thing is a song he and Trainor wrote called “More Than Friends.” It’s a classic Mraz love song that’s as bubbly as it is quirky — a result of the admiration the singers have for one another as well as their significant others. Mraz married girlfriend Christina Carano in 2015; Trainor got engaged to Daryl Sabara last year.
“We were talking about being in a relationship with these people and how much we love them, and he was saying, ‘My wife, she has these cute things she does,'” Trainor explains. “And I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ [He said] ‘When I make her a cup of coffee, I’ll be like, ‘Is it good?’ And she’ll say, ‘Oh, more than friends.’ I thought that was so cute. We were like, ‘Let’s write an adorable love song about being more than friends, and low-key we’ll know this is a wink to your wife.'”
Speaking of low-key: Trainor was trying not to freak out about writing with Mraz. His sweet collaboration with Colbie Caillat, “Lucky,” is one of her favorite songs of all time, and she was hoping to walk away with her own version of a classic Jason Mraz love song. Though Trainor swears “nothing will compare to that song,” she’s thrilled with the result: “It’s a song that when you hear it more and more, you’re like, ‘Yo, this is a jam.'”
Ahead of the song’s release today (July 27), Billboard chatted with Mraz and Trainor separately about how “More Than Friends” came together, their mutual fandom, and whether they think they have a “Lucky 2.0” on their hands.
Once you had the “More Than Friends” idea, how did you come up with the rest of the song?
Mraz: We didn’t really know if we’d even write a song the day we met, but we flattered each other with our fandom-ness toward each other, and she flattered me by saying, “I want to write something as adorable as ‘Lucky.’”
Trainor: I listened to a lot of his songs on the album, and they’re all amazing. I was just thinking, I don’t hear a lot of my favorite Jason Mraz on here, which is that adorable ukulele pop, like “Lucky.”
Meghan, what do you think makes “Lucky” so special?
Trainor: Lyrically, they took a different spin on a love song, and [you can relate to it] even if you’ve never been in love. Now that I feel like I’ve found my soulmate, it’s so spot-on. But when I was younger listening to the song, I was like, “Oh, this is what I dream of. I dream of finding not just a great guy but my new best friend.” That was the sweetest part of the song: “Lucky I’m in love with my best friend” — that’s my favorite lyric ever. And it’s true, Daryl is my best friend, and we have the best time together. And the melodies are just insane to me. I’m a big melody freak — that’s my strong suit, that’s the best part of my writing. But that melody? I could never beat that melody. It’s one of those songs I tell people, “God, I wish I wrote that song.” It’s so perfectly written and so beautiful.
What was your impression of him when you first met?
Trainor: When you’re with him, you can tell he’s not walking around with a big ego like, “I’m Jason Mraz!” He’s just a regular, really nice person. Even on the music video set, I would dance a little bit, and he was like, “I’m not cool enough for this,” and I was like, “You’re really cool! Just remind yourself how cool you are!” We both felt a little lame and goofy, but it’s really nice and humbling to see such a legend just show up with his wife and a guitar and be like, “Yep, we get to do another video, this is the best life.”
I freak out when I’m going in [the studio] with artists — I usually prepare an entire song. I’ll just walk in with it and pretend like, “Oh, what do you think?” For some reason with him, I didn’t prepare anything. I just knew we would crush it at writing an adorable pop song with a guitar.
Jason, what did you think of Meghan as a collaborator?
Mraz: She really is a great writer-producer. She’s fearless in the room and just starts singing and creating and trying things. She really helped me with the melody. I tend to be a little relaxed, almost monotone, and she made sure that I was keeping it interesting.
Trainor: Everyone has told me I’m fast — I’m almost too fast. They wish I would take more time on a song. When I feel it and know it’s done, I’m like, “Why stress about this anymore? It’s a great song.” He’s so calm. Any idea I mentioned, he was like, “That’s great.” He was telling me how some songs would take years, and then we wrote ours in a few short hours. He was so chill, I almost was like, “Does he even like this?”
So, does “More Than Friends” match up to “Lucky”?
Trainor: I mean, that’s tough! “Lucky,” in my opinion, is my number one. [“More Than Friends” is] a sister, but nothing will beat “Lucky.” I’m waiting for this music video [to come out], because it looks really awesome and adorable and kind of heartbreaking. That will help the song develop more too.
Mraz: It’s also reflective of 10 years later. “Lucky” had that sound from the beachy 2007-2008 era — “I’m Yours,” Colbie Caillat’s “Bubbly.” This is the marriage of the James Brown that is Meghan Trainor and the new modern, tropical rhythm that we hear in music — with a bit of that acoustic that never goes away. I think saying “simple and adorable” as an intention is a great way to start, because we knew we didn’t have to save the world with a song. We just wanted to make something cute.
Additional reporting from Phoebe Reilly.
The week of Mraz’s album release, the singer will be releasing Jason Mraz – Have It All The Movie, which will feature the “making of” the track and a special performance from Mraz’s Family Farms in San Diego. The movie will be in theaters nationwide for one night only on August 7, and tickets are available here.