America's audio sweetheart just dropped a new album, and it's all killer, no filler. The new Meghan Trainor album Thank You doesn't just boast the catchy pop songs she's known for, but some powerful ballads that demonstrate her impressive vocal range and warmth as a singer. It's a veritable chocolate box of an album. If you're not so into the ultra sweet strawberry-syrup filled chocolates (aka love songs like "Hopeless Romantic"), you can opt for a smooth caramel of a dance track like "Dance Like Yo' Daddy." But probably the best thing about the album is how unabashedly emotional it is in parts. One example of this is in the piano ballad "Kindly Calm Me Down," in which the audience witnesses Trainor at her most vulnerable.
The lyrics are pretty intense for a woman who's all about feel-good feminism and self-sufficiency. At times, they become almost poetically cryptic, causing me to wonder, what exactly is "Kindly Calm Me Down" about anyways? I broke this down line by line, like the Sherlock Holmes of lyrics, to get a little closer to the truth at the heart of all that surging piano backing and slow-groove harmonies.
What is Meghan Trainor trying to tell us? Let's check out the first verse.
So cold, aloneCould you be my blanket?Surround my bonesWhen my heart feels nakedNo strength, too weakI could use some savingAnd your love's so strong
I think this verse is fairly straightforward to decipher. Either someone's central heating's broken and they're so desperate they're resorting to the warmth of another human being, or maybe Trainor's just singing the single-girl blues. She's sad, she's lonely, she feels vulnerable. Not totally sure how down I am with her sentence "I could use some saving," but isn't feminism about choices? If a knight on a white horse is what she's into, let's not judge.
Like a pill I take it, I take it, I take itLike a pill, your love, I take itI take it, I take itLike a pill, your love, I take it
Summary: being lonely is a disease. The object of her desire's love is the antidote, available in handy pill form.
When my world gets loud, could you make it quiet down?When my head, it pounds, could you turn down all the sound?If I lay in pain, by my side would you stay?If I need you now, would you kindly calm me down?Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, would you kindly calm me down?Oh-oh-oh, oh-oh-oh, would you kindly calm me down?
Sometimes, you've just got to admit you need some help. That's what Trainor's doing here. I guess the metaphor is that love ameliorates all problems, the metaphorical loudness of the world, the metaphorical pain of a metaphorical headache. Lots of metaphors here. And I'm all (meta)for it. #sorrynotsorry
When my heart's not pureWould you kill my disease?And when there's no cureYou are just what I needWhen I lose my mindWould you still remind me?When I'm feeling lostWould you come and find me?
OK, speaking of the m-word, I'm not sure I totally get the impure heart/disease metaphor. So... her heart's not pure... which means she has an illness... which the lover is going to cure by killing it? Ms. Trainor, please review this line. I think you and I can both agree: you're phoning it in at this point. Then we get into some vaguely "Like A Prayer" lover-as-religion territory with "And when there's no cure/You are just what I need" — even when there's no hope, there's hope because love.
The last four lines imply that the object of her love (or projected object of love; all that loneliness stuff at the beginning gives me the impression that Trainor's character here is that classic literary device, the unreliable narrator, and that the song's addressed to an imaginary lover in the future) will give her a sense of rootedness and identity in an unstable world.
The summary in summary: Love saves all. Being single sucks. An imaginary boy/girlfriend's better than none? IDK. Well, at least it's still a beautiful song.