If Meghan Trainor is making one thing clear from outset of her new song “NO,” it’s that there’s a lot more to Meghan Trainor than what you think you know.
“NO” — the first single from her upcoming second album Thank You, and her first new release since winning best new artist at the 2016 Grammys — opens with the doo-wop-inflected vocals that Trainor mined to immense success on her debut album. But this time, there’s a twist — the retro music plays through an old-timey crackle, and then it suddenly comes to a stop. A massive, Neptunes-esque beat kicks in, destroying any worries that Trainor’s “NO” is just “All About That Bass” 2.0.
As Trainor told Billboard of the song’s winking start, “Yeah, you think this is Meghan Trainor? Here we go, drop the beat!”
Trainor was confident on “Bass,” but on “NO,” she’s entirely in charge — the destined-to-be-a-hit single finds Trainor hilariously telling off a hammy would-be suitor in no uncertain terms: “My name is NO / My sign is NO / My number’s NO,” she spits on the dance-y pop anthem.
Somewhat ironically, though, the song’s genesis traces back to a man telling her “no.”
“I sat down with [Epic CEO] L.A. Reid and said, ‘I have my album done,’ and he said, ‘No, you don’t, you don’t have a single,'” Trainor tells Billboard. “And I looked at him like he was crazy — I was pissed off. And I said, ‘All right Mr. Reid, I’m going to write you a single right now. And I went to the studio and said, ‘I need a big, angry anthem’ and it turned into an awesome woman anthem about being independent.”
“She ran out of a meeting upset after L.A. told her she didn’t have a single and came straight to my studio,” producer Ricky Reed tells Billboard of quickie session that produced her new single. “We harnessed that fiery energy and made ‘NO’ in about seven hours. It was magical.”
Even though the song seems destined to become a go-to for women who need to brush off scrubs in the club, Trainor says it’s not based on any particular history of unwanted nightlife advances.
“I don’t go clubbing that often,” she insists. “No, when I’m in the club it’s usually with my bro and we’re in a booth. I don’t have security but I think because [other guys] see my brother they don’t think I’m single.”
Even if Trainor isn’t always clubbing, she tells Billboard she loves dancing and that Thank You will have “a lot of dance songs” in addition to bearing the imprint of hip-hop producers like Pharrell.
“When you first listen to [the album] you might go, ‘Whoa, who is this?’ Then you hear my quirky lyrics and throwback melodies, and it sounds like Meghan Trainor sounds.”
Even so, the album is hardly a rehashing of her No. 1 debut Title. “There’s hard drums with some funk in them, and some straight-up unplugged songs, some classic songs where it’s just me and a guitar or me and a ukulele.
“Also there’s some of my Caribbean influences on this album, which I’m very excited about. Since I was seven, my Trinidadian uncle came into our family — he married my aunt — and I’ve been listening to Caribbean music. I love Soca, this amazing genre that’s calypso and Caribbean influenced. It makes you feel good and it’s not on the radio as much over here as I want it to be. So I want to bring a bit over…. I’m trying to show all the genres that Meghan Trainor can do as a songwriter.”
As for the “NO” video, Trainor is filming it today (March 4). When Trainor talks to Billboard, she’s in the midst of rehearsals. “We’re dancing more than we’ve ever danced in my life,” she laughs. “Every word is a dance move in this video.”