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Meghan Trainor on the Lessons Motherhood Taught Her – And How It Led to Comeback Hit ‘Made You Look’

todayDecember 2, 2022 4

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In the time since Meghan Trainor dropped her third studio album Treat Myself in January 2020, her life has completely transformed. That October, she revealed that she was pregnant with her first child. She released A Very Trainor Christmas the same month, and early the following year, the 28-year-old Nantucket native welcomed her son, Riley, with her husband, Spy Kids star Daryl Sabara.

Now a mother, Trainor says that she has learned to focus more on “what actually matters” and being her most authentic self for her new baby. That has involved spending loads of time on TikTok, posting casual videos dancing with her family or sharing personal and hilarious tidbits about her life. “I’ve been more real and open than ever. I even talk about my love for MiraLAX online,” she jokes to Billboard.

The platform has also boosted one of her biggest hits in the past few years: her fresh take on doo-wop, “Made You Look,” first began to spread across TikTok thanks to a dance trend started by users Brookie and Jessie that has since become inescapable. Trainor has gotten in on the fun, and to date, nearly two million user-created videos on the platform have utilized the track as a backing sound. “Made You Look” reaches a new No. 24 high on the Billboard Hot 100 dated Dec. 3, marking Trainor’s highest-charting hit since “Me Too” reached No. 13 in 2016.

Below, the pop star tells Bilboard about the details behind “Made You Look” — including how she drew inspiration from a familiar hit to create the song — how music has changed over her decade-long career and what being a mother has taught her.

How did “Made You Look” come together?

It was one of the last songs I wrote for the album. I knew I needed my self-confident banger that I always do on my albums, and I was really studying “All About That Bass.” I was like, “Why did this work so well?” I think everyone just loves to sing along to a song that’s like, “I am awesome, I am the sh-t, I am hot.” Especially after having a baby, I was already struggling to love my body. I was covered in a C-section scar crossing over all my stretch marks and I was really struggling to like myself, but also like myself in front of my own husband.

My therapist had me stand in front of the mirror naked every day and the first day, I was shaking and hated it. By the third day, I noticed things that I liked about my body and I was like, “Wow, this is so powerful.” So, I was in the shower one day and I was like, “Yeah, they could dress me in all these fancy clothes, but when I’m at my grungiest and at home, that’s when my husband is like, ‘You’re the prettiest girl in the world. You’re the hottest.’ ” I wanted to put that in a song, and I wrote the chorus in the shower.

Your C-section scar is how you gave birth to your son, though. That’s so special.

Exactly. I was at the point where I would say to my husband, “Please don’t look at it. Don’t look at my scar!” He’s like, “That’s my favorite mark there ever was. That’s where my boy came out of. That’s the most special thing in the world!” I had never thought about it like that.

How is making music different for you since having your son?

It’s more important now. I guess I’m also more mature, because I’m older and been through more, so now, I’m at an age and point in my life where I’m like, “Here’s what actually matters and here’s what doesn’t. I’m not going to stress anymore.” I really had to work with my therapist on what I can and can’t control. These stretch marks are here, [I have to] get used to them and learn to love them because I can’t control whether they go away or not. In my songwriting, I try to put in that “let it go” vibe.

What was your reaction when “Made You Look” started blowing up on TikTok?

I was so surprised, because it’s so hard to get a song to be successful on TikTok. You don’t want to be out there every day like, “Check out my new song!” I like being vulnerable on that app, and I feel weird being on there just to promote my music. This song was important to me, though, and I knew it would help people with their confidence.

When I saw the dance from the TikTokers Brookie and Jessie, [it] was so fun and they made it look so cool. It was hard to learn, but now that I know it, I do it literally every day. I love the dance so much. It blew up and popped off, but now I see people doing other stuff to the song. I saw a girl who was learning how to be a chef, someone practicing how to cut a vagina while giving birth and a horse giving birth to my song. That’s the coolest part of TikTok. The whole world is on there.

What are some of the biggest differences you see in music trends and on the Hot 100 over the course of your career?

Obviously, TikTok rules the world. For the last album, I was like, “I’ll do every piece of promo you want me to do. If this works, I’ll do it.” But it didn’t work. So, for this album, I made a priority to do “TikTok days” and make content. This app allows for a whole day of fun work for us, and it doesn’t feel like work. I get to be at home and make videos that go viral, and it still helps my music and connect with strangers all over the world. I went live on TikTok this morning and people from Ethiopia were in there. People are like, “Hi from South Dakota! Hi from South Africa!” And I’m like, “Oh my God!” It’s just the best app to connect with everyone globally.

I’ve been more real and open than ever. I even talk about my love for MiraLAX online. The best part of that is that it seems to be what everyone likes. They like me being myself. That’s easy to do for me, rather than [being] like, “Oh, I’m a celebrity that no one can touch, and I wear Gucci and Prada. Don’t talk to me.” It’s easier and more fun this way. Finally, for the first time in a long time, I really, really love my job again. I love promoting music again.

It also feels like you found a renewed love for music on Takin’ It Back.

Yeah! My last album I was chasing radio so hard and was going more pop because I was trying to run away from the doo-wop stuff. I was like, “No, I can do all the genres! I love pop! I love dance!” Then, I was like, “Alright, let’s do the doo-wop. Let’s give the people what they want.” I realized, then, my love for it. I wrote the verses of “Made You Look” over lunch while laughing. We were like, “Oh, it should be, ‘Call up your chiropractor just in case your neck breaks from looking at me.’ ” We were having a ball.

One thing that definitely hasn’t changed through your albums are your messages of empowerment.

I’m trying to do that for everyone out there. The best reward is [that] I’ve been getting letters from fans that start with, “Your music helped me so much growing up.” That’s better than any compliment ever.

What are you excited for with the holidays coming up? You’re a big Christmas fan and even have a holiday album.

Yes, my decorations are already up and I put up the tree. I’m also trying to get pregnant. I’m trying to have four kids and get them out. I don’t know if we’ll tour next year, because touring is so exhausting and brutal still.

Especially if you do get pregnant.

I mean, I don’t know if I’m as cool as Cardi B. The icon that’s like, “Sure I can tour and perform and do SNL pregnant.” I don’t know if I’m as strong as her. I remember being pregnant and being like, “I really should lay down.” I was pooped, so I don’t know if I want to sign up for a tour and then get pregnant while doing that. It’s a big debate, but if something happens and I can open for someone or do a short run, I would love to do something like that. I also want to put out a book about pregnancy. After giving birth, I feel like I can do anything. So, I’m just picking new goals and making new dreams.

What’s the biggest thing you learned through motherhood?

Mom guilt is [a] very similar pain to struggling with loving yourself. I’m a very hard critic on myself in everything I do. With loving myself and music and my talent, I’m my worst critic. I noticed that mom guilt is a very similar feeling. Immediately, I had the worst mom guilt because I started working right away and I was like, “Oh, he’s saying ‘dada’ first and it’s probably because he doesn’t know me!” That’s not the case at all. I had to learn, “Hey, be easy on yourself. You’re doing the best you can and that’s all that matters.” Watch out for mom guilt, and just know that I have it too and I’m working on it.

A version of this story originally appeared in the Nov. 19, 2022, issue of Billboard.

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