Trainor returns to roots on ‘Takin’ It Back’


Kole Lokhande

Takin’ It Back released on Oct. 21 by American singer-songwriter Meghan Trainor. The Sidekick staff photographer Kayla Nguyen expresses her thoughts on the album, discussing the influence of doo-wop and Trainor’s debut album Title.

Kayla Nguyen, Staff Photographer

As I put on my headphones and pressed play, the last thing I expected was to be transported back to fourth grade at Town Center Elementary. 

All at once, I could feel the late May heat and the heaviness of a damp “TCE Field Day 2014” T-shirt sticking to my back after swimming. The smell of sunscreen in the humid air filled my nostrils, and I could hear the booming chorus of “All About That Bass” blaring from Mrs. Schaaf’s old speaker.

That exhilarating feeling of nostalgia is precisely the experience to look forward to with American singer-songwriter Meghan Trainor’s newest album, Takin’ It Back. 

In 2015, a genre untouched by mainstream media took over the charts in a matter of weeks as the doo-wop style of Trainor’s debut album, Title, made its way into homes and radio stations across the country. Trainor set the standard for the upbeat and sickeningly positive anthems of the late 2010s; and now, more than seven years later, she’s brought back and redefined her signature style. 

Takin’ It Back is a contemporary compilation of energetic songs, such as “Made You Look,” mixed with heartfelt ballads, such as “Superwoman.” It is abundantly clear that Trainor drew from her own life experiences in this new album, as it holds depth unheard in its predecessor, Title. Trainor truly explores a sense of maturity and thoughtfulness developed over the last seven years.

Nevertheless, there are still some gripes to be made. Where Takin’ It Back faltered is in the inconsistency of song quality. Tracks one through eight are all fairly enjoyable, but the songs to follow missed the mark. What began as a strong doo-wop album became merely a cliché pop disaster. The lyricism turn basic, the composition was subpar, and the overall energy of the latter part of the album feels dull. 

A high note on Trainor’s new album is “Bad For Me (feat. Teddy Swims).” The song is raw and authentic as it voices the struggles of familial ties and toxic relationships. Some of the most notable lyrics featured in this track include “Please don’t make promises that you can’t keep / Your best intentions end up hurting me” as well as “I know we’re blood, but this love is bad for me”. Trainor turns her personal experiences into sincere lines of loss and acceptance which can acutely resonate with many people. In addition to, Teddy Swims’ voice seamlessly blends with Trainor’s and greatly contributes to the final product.

On the other hand, a song that leaves me perplexed was “Mama Wanna Mambo (feat. Natti Natasha & Arturo Sandoval).” My first grievance with this track is simply that it feels out of place and adds nothing to the album. The mambo-style tune feels exceedingly predictable and the lyrics are nothing to write home about. The commendable maturity featured previously in the album is lost along with Trainor’s stunning vocal ability, which isn’t done justice with the material given.

“Superwoman” and “Rainbow” are quite the opposite in that they serve a significant purpose on the album. Featured one after the other in the tracklist, they work as foils:  two sides of the same coin, both with equally profound themes. 

“Superwoman” is an intimate ballad sporting lines “I don’t really have any archenemies / My only villain is myself” along with “Call me Superwoman, but I know I’m not that strong.” Trainor gives listeners a glimpse at her innermost insecurities and candidly translates them into thoughtful lyrics. 

In juxtaposition to the previous song, “Rainbow” is an empowering anthem of self-love; echoing the message prevalent in Trainor’s debut album, Title. With lyrics like “‘Cause you’re beautiful, you’re intelligent” and “Ain’t no one compared / So why you care / What anybody says about you?” Trainor is able to inspire and motivate fans with a testament she’s consistently held dear.

Trainor has had an ever-evolving career. She’s experimented with different styles of music in an effort to find her sound, and with the resurgence of her signature doo-wop melodies in Takin’ It Back, it seems as if she finally has. 

With many notable moments in 45 minutes and 36 seconds, Trainor has translated an updated version of her most memorable album. 

This time, with a new lens. 

Follow Kayla (@kaylagnguyen) and @CHSCampusNews on Twitter.