Meghan Trainor is back with an unambiguous message for men giving her unwanted attention: "No!" The first single from the "All About That Bass" singer's second major-label release, Thank You, repeatedly delivers that very blunt response—66 times, by my count—to any guy who'd try to sweet-talk, manipulate or otherwise bamboozle her at a dance club.
"It's a big anthem for ladies about telling a dude, 'Nah, I'm good—I'm out here on my own, and I'm good with it,'" Trainor told fuse.tv. "The scene is me in a club, and the dude comes up to me and I go, 'No, no, no. I don't need your hands all over me. I'm good. I'm gonna dance on my own with my girls.'"
And judging from the variety of ways Meghan responds in the negative on "No," I think it's safe to assume she's been the recipient of just about every smooth-talking come-on under the sun—or the dance club lights, as the case may be.
Learning How to Say No
Still, she's not completely heartless here, and it's not like she wants to wallop every guy over the head. "I think it's so cute, and I think it's so sweet/How you let your friends encourage you to try to talk to me," she croons in a doo-wop style, "But let me stop you there, oh, before you speak."
And also because she knows the real score, and knows he's not likely to hear her the first time, Trainor soon trades her sweetly coy retro persona for something that sounds a lot more like Britney Spears—both musically and attitudinally—as she preemptively parries every possible pickup line:
"Nah to the ah to the no, no, no," she sings sassily before unleashing the definition of her "no" litany: "My name is no/My sign is no/My number is no/You need to let it go/You Need to let it go."
It's No to the No, Again and Again
Listening to the song the first time, I thought, Wow, isn't she being a little harsh to this poor guy? But a closer look at the lyrics seems to indicate that Meghan's not trying to dismiss a nice, earnest guy who's secretly had a crush on her for some achingly long time.
No—and there's that word again—she seems to be delivering her message to guys who've perfected the art of picking up women and objectifying them without ever really being interested in a relationship.
So let 'em have it, then!
The second verse recites even more well-worn lines that Meghan's smart enough to recognize for what they are. "First you gonna say you ain't runnin' game, thinking I'm believing every word," she chants, clearly unwilling to be played for the fool. "Call me beautiful, so original, telling me I'm not like the other girls/ … Blah, blah, blah, I be like, nah to the ah to the no, no, no/Thank you in advance, I don't wanna dance (nope)/I don't need your hands all over me."
She says she is open to having a man in her life, but on her terms, not dance-floor terms: "If I want a man, then Ima get a man/But it's never my priority/ … I'm feeling/Untouchable, untouchable."
Meghan: Catch the vibe, girls? "All my ladies, listen up/If that boy ain't givin' up/Lick your lips and swing your hips/Girl, all you gotta say is/My name is no/My sign is no/My number is no."
But Still Saying Yes to Self-Objectification
I'm more than happy to give Meghan Trainor credit for the positive message on "No," namely that women don't have to put up with men's shallow, sexual objectification of them. In a world in which males too often treat females as possessions, prizes and objects to be used, abused and discarded, Meghan's message here is an inspiring and empowering one.
But the way her video delivers that message is, ironically, full of exactly the kind of shallow sexualization and objectification the song itself ostensibly rejects. In it, Meghan and a group of other women dancers vamp about in flesh-revealing and fishnet-dominated outfits, spending a lot of time sensually, suggestively caressing themselves—and each other.
The very men she's trying to say no to are practically forced to ogle and leer.
The result is a maddeningly mixed set of messages. Visually, Meghan Trainor is nodding yes to embracing our culture's demeaning habit of defining females in terms of their sexuality. Verbally, she's yelling no to the exact same tendency.