There are two paths a fledgling pop star can travel.
One path is assured, confident that this moment is merely the first of many.
Comfortable that, over time, they will grow into their abilities, and enjoy a satisfying, productive career, hopefully enjoying maximum visibility, but, regardless, creating and performing for the joy of expression, rather than purely financial gain.
The other path is, regretfully, the one being trod more and more often by ascendant talents in the ‘10s: the urge to capitalize fully upon what may only be a few moments in the spotlight.
Grab it all — attention, money, press, Twitter followers — and don’t look back.
Maybe there will be more after this first taste, but maybe there won’t.
Better to just barrel ahead, regardless of the outcome, and hope it all works out in the end.
Meghan Trainor is making her way down that second path, indifferent to anything other than maximizing her exposure and making sure she has the strict attention of her die-hard fans, the “Megatronz,” who presumably don’t flinch at plunking down $65 (cash only!) for a hoodie emblazoned with All About That Bass on the back.
Her sold out, barely hour-long set Friday at the Granada Theater found the 21-year-old singer and songwriter hitting her marks, but not seeming to be having very much fun.
Maybe some of that disconnected feeling stemmed from the weather — frigid temperatures and a glazing of ice and snow caused many to cry foul on social media that the concert wasn’t being postponed — but from the opening number, Dear Future Husband, Trainor just seemed to be going through the motions. (She did begin her show 15 minutes earlier than expected, but no reason for the early start was given.)
With a full array of musicians and back-up singers (all of whom doubled as back-up dancers) behind her, Trainor raced through all of her released material to date, knocking out her entire, pre-encore set in just 45 minutes.
That breakneck pace included a bizarre interlude where Trainor and her dancers strode around the Granada stage to Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ Uptown Funk — not singing the song, but merely miming along.
Covers aren’t unusual for up-and-coming acts, who use them to stretch otherwise thin sets, but I’ve never seen a performer just dance to a song as if in their bedroom.
Much like the experience of listening to Title, Trainor’s debut LP, the homogeneity of the songs tends to grow old after a few minutes.
Trainor’s reliance on doo-wop and reggae rhythms is fine in small doses — Lips Are Movin’ and the show-closing All About That Bass are, indeed, catchy singles — but you’re left wishing she would try something different with her arresting voice, limber and light and kissed with a little Southern honey.
Trainor has other kinks to work out — not least is reconciling the conflicting messages of body positive anthem Bass and the cringe-inducing Title or Dear Future Husband — such as her irritating habit of frequently saying “I love you, too” while in the middle of singing.
Those who braved the miserable conditions were indeed vociferous in their praise, clutching signs and unleashing ear-bleeding yells at nearly every opportunity.
The crowd singing along with abandon — it’s a singularly creepy thing to hear a roomful of pre-teen girls belting lyrics like “Baby, don't call me your friend/If I hear that word again/You might never get a chance to see me naked in your bed” — was something Trainor repeatedly noted, and was moved by (Trainor’s grandparents, watching from the balcony, were probably likewise touched).
Given that reaction, it’s understandable that Trainor has decided to walk the path she’s on.
All About That Bass is a phenomenon, but given the iffy quality of the rest of Title’s tunes, perhaps not one which can sustain a lengthy career.
Trainor will likely be just fine — she cut her teeth as a songwriter-for-hire in Nashville before breaking out — but one can’t help but wonder what Friday’s show had been like if she was less attuned to this moment, but instead, considering the potential for more just like it.
Preston Jones, 817-390-7713