Meghan Trainor is a little busy. The 24-year-old pop star is a new judge on The Four, a reality show competition on FOX, where she's in good company. The other judges happen to be DJ Khaled, Sean "Diddy" Combs, and none other than Fergie. On top of this new role, Trainor is still releasing her own music — she just dropped the single "No Excuses," which comes with its own Zumba dance. Yes, Zumba!
Oh, and there's that wedding she needs to plan. Trainor got engaged to actor Daryl Sabara in December of 2017 on her 24th birthday. Their relationship got a bit (erm, a lot) of publicity in early January when they were photographed leaving the Romantix Adult Store in Los Angeles. The Cut remarked at the time that the couple was "remarkably solemn" for two people who were presumably leaving a cabinet of sexual curiosities. According to Trainor, who spoke with Refinery29 at the offices on Friday, she and Sabara were in pain — they'd just left a particularly gruelling workout.
Refinery29 spoke to Trainor about The Four, Zumba, and the truth behind those viral sex shop photos.
Refinery29: Let's talk about The Four. How is it different from other singing competition shows?
Meghan Trainor: "It's more intense, right away. You walk in, and you're a contestant, and you either make it through us and then compete for your life, or you go home right away. And we all have to agree. You have to get four blues or else, you out. Even if you have one red, one person disagrees. And that's why it's different from the other shows. It's very intense, and I tried to not fall in love with each person, but I kind of did. But it's one of those — you have to keep your emotions back. That's what's great for everyone at home, because they have the best opinions, and I always agree with them on Twitter. But they were just like, 'Why is she here? Why is she going home?'"
And how did it feel being invited to join this panel with these iconic musicians?
"It's great. I mean, I remember my first meetings. I went to them, and I was like, 'I would love to be a part of this.' I saw a clip from Israel, where the show started. I couldn't understand the language, but I was so like, 'This is a hit show. I am obsessed with this.' When they were talking to me, they didn't have anything planned about the panel. And I was saying, 'Look, even if you don't pick me to be on this show, make sure that when you come back with a new music show, [the contestants] actually get a record deal. And they actually get to work with a songwriter. And they actually get their dreams to come true. Or else it won't be that exciting.'
After a few meetings, they were like, 'Okay, we're gonna get one record producer and one songwriter, and one artist.' I was like, 'Oh! You listened.' Sometimes I'm like, 'Did I make up these rules?'"
How do you feel about competition shows in terms of what they do for young artists? Does it hinder them in any way?
"It's tough because if I went to that competition show, I would get said 'no' to in a second. And I know that. I would give it my all, but vocally, I'm not as strong as these amazing talented artists that come on stage. It's tough, too, because we're not just looking for an amazing vocalist. We're looking for the whole package. If I went up there, I wouldn't have my styling, and my whole team that makes me and helps me be the artist I get to be. But, for them, they get some styling on the show, but not for that first audition. So, we're judging from the second they walk out. Seeing them if they're confident when they walk out. Like, every little detail, we're looking at. And that's hard. My first audition for Epic Records, I walked in with a backwards hat and all Forever 21 clothes, like cheetah leggings..."
"Girl. And big-ass hoops. But they, for some reason, in my one little interview, in my one little performance on my ukulele, they were like, 'You a star.' There's something about that it factor that you can tell by talking to a person in five minutes. So we tried that on the show, too. We're like, 'Where are you from? Let's get a little bit of you before we start this.' That's what we're looking for. All the young challengers who came up, we would say, 'Hey, you're 16. You've made it this far, that's incredible. Just learn from this, and we'll see you with a record deal in a year.'"
There were some paparazzi photos of you and your fiancé leaving a sex shop. And it was such a big deal! Why do you think that is?
"I know! I know! I think the biggest deal was how hurt we looked. I think that was the big deal. Because we'd just worked out, and it wasn't our plan to do this."
No one ever plans to go into the sex shop. That's the thing!
"I had special situation. This is the honest truth: I went for a friend. It sounds so dumb. It's so true. I went for a friend because she didn't want to go to the store. I was like, 'I'll do it. I've been to the store, it's great. It's a great store.' And did I pick stuff up for me? Yeah. While I'm here, let's grab a few things! They give you those black bags, and even if you buy the tiniest thing, you're gonna get that bag. So they're like, 'Whoa! What a huge bag she had.' When I don't have a giant, humongous thing in here that I'm gonna go use with Daryl, but I got a few little cute things! And one for my friend!"
You're a good friend! You went to a sex shop for a friend, and you choreographed a Zumba class for friends, too, right?
"Yes! All my dancer friends. It was like the best family reunion because I got to see all of them. It's nice, finally getting to have the girls, because you have to say no to a lot of them. In auditioning each video, too, you're like, 'Oh, I love you! But, this is a different look.' That's the worst industry. All based on height. I literally had to tell a guy, 'You're my favourite dancer, but you're not as tall as this person, so I can't put you in the video.' It makes no sense, and it's the hardest part of my job."
What does "No Excuses" mean?
"You have no excuse to be disrespectful. There's no need for it. You're hurting yourself. I get confused sometimes, because I'm 24. I'm young in this industry. But I talk to people who are twice my age, and they're disrespectful. I'm like, 'Shouldn't you be more mature than I am?' Those conversations confuse me. I asked my team, 'What's this?' And they're like, 'People.' A lot of people in the world are disrespectful. It's just who they are. I wanted a sweet anthem that also made families dance and bop around. I've seen a lot of toddlers love it, which is my favourite! Just a friendly reminder if you're really listening, treat others the way you want to be treated."
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Watch the video for "No Excuses," below.
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