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In an exclusive interview with Elite Daily, Meghan Trainor opens up about her new album, 'Takin' It ...

How T-Pain & Carole King Influenced Meghan Trainor’s Sound

She also turned to Frank Sinatra for inspo on her new album, Takin’ It Back.

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In Elite Daily's series Early Influences, musicians reflect on the songs and albums that left a lasting impression on them in their formative years. Here, Meghan Trainor shares the artists who inspired her songwriting and her latest album, Takin’ It Back.

Meghan Trainor is a songwriter first and vocalist second. (And, as of recently, maybe a TikTok-meets-podcast phenom, third.) But that’s well-known by now. The Massachusetts-born singer rose to fame in the mid-2010s, penning doo-wop pop bops like “Dear Future Husband” and “Lips Are Movin.” These Top 40 hits with infectious, inspirational hooks established Trainor as a star with a retro aesthetic, only for her to ditch the ‘50s vibes and embrace a modern pop sound on her follow-up albums Thank You and Treat Myself.

Eight years after “All About That Bass” positioned her as America’s answer to Adele, Trainor is picking back up her pastel-hued retro bag. Trainor dropped her fifth record Takin’ It Back in October 2022, where she took it back — back to those classic riffs that first made her famous. It’s a record full of nostalgic sounds laced with TikTok-ready confessions. In fact, lyrically, Trainor is focused on the future, namely understanding what it means to be a first-time wife and mom.

Sonically returning to her R&B, bubbly sound wasn’t a hard feat for the singer. Trainor’s father was a music teacher and her Trinidadian uncle, Burton Toney, is a reggae and soca artist. Soca is a fusion of African and East-Indian rhythms with origins in Trinidad and Tobago.

Trainor’s knack for enriching varied, global sounds with a modern, extremely online twist comes, in part, from studying the works of timeless songwriters. Below, the singer tells Elite Daily how Carole King and Frank Sinatra influenced her songwriting ability, and how T-Pain has shaped her ear for background harmonies. Yes, T-Pain.

T-Pain
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What makes a classic Meghan Trainor song? Her new single, “Made You Look,” is a good model, where layered harmonies soothe and give way to an infectious hook.

For a dose of flare, Trainor finds inspiration from T-Pain. “[T-Pain’s] backgrounds weren’t just harmony backgrounds. They were hooks in themselves. It was just so genius to me,” Trainor said, before softly singing the chorus to his 2007 club anthem, “Buy U A Drank.”

“I tried to copy that [technique] and put that in my music as this isn’t going to be an extra background, it’ll be a part that people sing,” she says. Trainor also admires his rhyme schemes. They’re unique. Don’t forget T-Pain smoothly rhymed “mansion” with “Wisconsin” — rather “Winscansin” — on his 2009 single, “Can’t Believe It.”

“I just think he’s a wizard,” Trainor says. “He’s one of those rare artists that when they’re singing, you’re like, ‘Oh, only T-Pain could have made this up.’”

Carole King
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Before Trainor was singing hits, she was writing them. She started her career as a songwriter for the likes of Fifth Harmony, Sabrina Carpenter, and Little Mix. It’s during this time she fell in love with preeminent singer-songwriter Carole King and her “superpower” talent. Since the ‘60s, King has written classics like “You’ve Got A Friend,” Aretha Franklin’s “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” and Mariah Carey’s “If It’s Over.”

Trainor considers King to be one of the greatest songwriters of all time. “Carole King is just iconic for being known as an artist, but also a songwriter,” she says. “Dude, I want a career like that.”

The Takin’ It Back singer met her idol in 2015 at Clive Davis’ pre-Grammys gala where she and John Legend performed their hit duet, “Like I’m Gonna Lose You.” After the performance, Trainor ran into King backstage.

“She came up to me, and I was shaking,” Trainor says, noting King began reciting the lyrics to “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” and even called them genius. Trainor remembers feeling like she was going to throw up. “The fact that she complimented my song it was like, that’s great,” she says.

Frank Sinatra
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There’s a certain science Trainor uses to create a hit: It has to feel classic. “I can attach onto people like a tattoo for the rest of their life as a core memory with my music,” she says.

Cue Frank Sinatra. The late singer has a stunning array of hits; however, it was his ability to emotionally connect with fans through his lyrics that Trainor believes made him a powerhouse. Trainor hopes Takin’ It Back has that impact. Largely, that desire stems from a conversation she had with her dad. They realized late artists, like Sinatra, aren’t physically here, but their music continues to leave a lasting impression.

“I have a big fear of death and ending everything, but I like the concept of, ‘Oh I can live on forever,’” Trainor says. “My dad was like, ‘You’re not gone and ... forgotten. And I was like, ‘Oh god, I never want to be forgotten.’”

There’s no reason to believe Trainor could ever be forgotten, but she isn’t willing to put her career before her family to ensure her legacy. The singer hasn’t announced a tour for Takin’ It Back, though hitting the road is not completely out of the picture. Right now, though, she wants to figure out a healthy work-life balance.

“I definitely don’t know if I want to be pregnant [and] with a toddler and then on tour dancing every night,” Trainor says, envisioning a future where she and husband Daryl Sabara may have “a family of four kids.”

Tour or not, the release of Takin’ It Back is an exciting moment for her. She hopes her followers — including her OGs and a growing base on TikTok — will stick with the new songs for more than just a viral soundbite or two.

“I want people to make memories with these new tunes, heal their old wounds, f*cking party and pregame, or fall in love with these new songs,” she says.I want this music to ... last forever.”