Remember when Meghan Trainor won a Grammy? When arguably the most esteemed music awards in the world decided the woman who gave us ‘All About That Bass’ and, even worse, ‘Mom’, was the Best New Artist in the world? What a time to be alive. Surely, in hindsight, the panel of grave-circling white dudes who decide these things must have some regrets. Because thus far, Trainor’s career has been a parade of novelty hits, a string of singles that showcases a colourful, cheap-and-cheerful aesthetic, but no real staying power.
Still, Trainor isn’t giving up without a fight. Back with a vengeance, she’s debuted her latest single ‘No Excuses’.
Like her previous singles, ‘No Excuses’ is a polished pop song that boasts tight, modern production and a catchy, bop-along refrain. In pop terms, it meets the minimum requirements. But, also like her previous output, there is something grating here, obnoxious even. Why is it so difficult to like Meghan Trainor? It’s a question scientists could muddle over for decades and never get a conclusive answer. Is it the unearned swagger? The faux sass? Though not quite as brash as on the gaudy ‘Me Too’, these are both things that make ‘No Excuses’ hard to like.
‘No Excuses’ is another mother-centric track, Trainor for some reason keen to shoehorn mentions of moms into as many songs as possible. “Your momma raised you better than that,” she sings, brushing off another overzealous bloke. Like several of her earlier songs, ‘No Excuses’ positions Trainor as an object of desire, a refreshing change given her refusal to fit the archetypal size-zero pop star mold. But after a while, you come to wonder whether Trainor actually has anything else to say. We’re not expecting a comment on the Israel-Palestine conflict, but surely we’ve earned something more than churlish brags about her wealth (‘Me Too’), ass (‘All About That Bass’) and fuckability (‘No’).
That said, ‘No Excuses’ is a fun track, one that sucks you into its juvenile nonsense and keeps you there for an uncomfortable but amusing two and a half minutes. It’s easy to rag on Trainor, and at this point it feels almost too easy, so it’s important to remember she’s not trying to be the next Rihanna or Beyoncé. At least we hope not. Taken at face value, as a spangly distraction, a children’s entertainer, a Butlins red coat with an almost admirable misplaced confidence, she isn’t so offensive after all. We just wish she could put paid to her detractors and pen a pop song a bit better than this.