Meghan Trainor Granada Theater, Dallas Friday, February 27, 2015
Meghan Trainor's sold-out appearance at Granada Theater on Friday night had every opportunity to be a disaster. Freezing temperatures, ice-covered roads and falling snow threatened to run the whole thing off the rails. There was also a Facebook campaign that promised to involve TMZ in matters, begging for a reschedule and proclaiming that all the children in DFW would die if it went ahead as planned.
In the end, Trainor's show went off without a hitch. Well, there was a hitch or two, but we'll get to that.
In the end, word was that the weather only caused around 200 no-shows; kids and parents came out in full winter-clothed force. It's bizarre to walk into one of Dallas' best venues to find a pack of wild children begging their somber parents to drop $65 on a hoodie, but an artist like Trainor exists because of the Disneyfication of pop music, and dammit if she wasn't going to Disneyfy whatever venue she appeared in. Not many drinks were being sold at the bars, but the bags of M&M's were selling like hot cakes.
For an artist that was championed all year long for her ballad on body positivity, Trainor sure 180s hard on the rest of her tracks. Which is to be expected considering how rushed the album, imaginatively called Title, felt. Even her follow-up single, "Lips Are Movin'", was admittedly rushed into production and on to the radio following the enormous success of "All About That Bass." So maybe we should go a little easy on Trainor; she's just part of the machine after all.
But sweet baby Jesus, who was responsible for allowing a song called "Dear Future Husband" to be written and released in 2015? An ode to heteronormativity that gleefully winks at patriarchal stereotypes, it's the single worst song in her set, so of course Trainor kicked everything off with it. There's something inherently wrong about pre-teens screaming and singing along to something like this:
"'Cause if you'll treat me right I'll be the perfect wife Buying groceries Buy-buying what you need"
Those are lyrics sung out loud by a group of children in 2015. In a year where #LikeAGirl is having a moment in the cultural conscience and promoting female empowerment, Trainor's willfully producing reductive music.
This shit gets even worse when she sings her song "Title," which demands that her lover label her if he hopes to have any chance of bedding her. Again, this is music that's being marketed to children, and it's hard to explain just how uncomfortable it felt standing in the Granada surrounded by 10-year-olds who knew every word. Oh, and there were also songs about late night texting, a booty call and one called "Walk of Shame."
Worse yet, she sort of raps on one of these tracks, which raises another question: Why we were so quick to attack Iggy Azelia for what amounts to a form of blackface, while allowing Trainor a pass for pretty much the exact same thing. Whether it's her normal tendency or something she did specifically for the fine folks of Dallas, the Massachusetts-bred singer even slid into a Southern inflection that sounded like a parody you might hear on a poorly done Saturday Night Live skit.
Then there was a curveball when, from out of nowhere, Trainor and her back-up dancers broke it down to "Uptown Funk." They didn't actually cover the song, though, they just sort of danced around in a bid for Trainor to steal Taylor Swift's "Worst Dancer" crown. Not even this bizarre spectacle could distract from the nagging concerns I felt from her music.
I have these concerns because I have a very important young lady in my life, my niece Payton. She's going to be eight soon and she's the target audience for this type of bubble-gum pop. She likes to dance, she likes to sing and I worry that she's like every person under 20 in the Granada: a Trainor fan.
So while I watch children sing along to this music, parents do the white mom who had too much Michelob Ultra sway, and 20-somethings get bombed (ironically), I can only think of the effect this type of music might have on my niece. Will listening to this sort of drivel influence her? Will she decide that she's nothing more than some future bro's prize, because Trainor, and hundreds of other pop stars, validate that sort of outdated thinking? Will she ever escape a culture that promotes her believing she's nothing more than a man's second banana?
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Tossing this type of worry at Trainor's feet based on a show that lasted less than an hour might be unfair, but she is an inescapable cultural phenomenon at the moment. Yes, what happened Friday night was most likely a one-hit wonder trying to snatch the brass ring dangling in front of her, and cashing in while she still can. But it doesn't change the fact that she's been championed as someone who's changing the perception of women in popular music, and here she is falling back on the standard sexualization and kitchenization tropes. It's disappointing.
Trainor may not be the banner-waver of social change that everyone tried to make her out to be, but on the bright side, she's sure as hell ready for her future of state fair performances. You can believe in that, at least.
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