Is the surprise megahit really a dig at thinner women? No way, says the singer, it’s about loving and rocking whatever you’ve got
Hi, Meghan! What’s it like to be the hottest thing in pop? (1)
Oh my God, it’s amazing and unreal and like a dream. It’s a little overwhelming sometimes, but most of the time it’s amazing.
Apparently, you’ve become ill because your schedule is so packed. Is this the way you imagined success would be?
I think because the song was so successful so fast, none of us could handle the schedule. Everyone was asking us to do everything and we hated to say no to anything, so we said yes, and eventually I just crashed. I actually am lying in bed. I just landed in Canada, and I’m in bed doing all these interviews in my sweatshirt and sweatpants.
A dozen other artists, including Beyoncé, passed on the chance to record All About That Bass. (2) Do you think they’re kicking themselves?
I’ll bet some of them didn’t even know the song was being pitched to them. Some artists get thousands of songs pitched and they never know, so Beyoncé herself probably never heard it. Most of these other artists’ A&R teams said they couldn’t do anything with the song because they didn’t have [the right] artist. That was the problem – there weren’t any singers at the time [who fit the song]. Adele was the only one, but she wasn’t rapping and singing sassy songs with swears in them. But I’m down – I get all the performing royalties!
This autumn is full of booty songs – yours, Nikki Minaj’s Anaconda and Jennifer Lopez’s Booty. What’s going on?
I don’t know! I didn’t plan this. I wrote this over a year ago, but I’m just glad I’m one of the booties they’re talking about.
So you’re all about that bass, but no treble. Metaphors, perhaps?
It’s like thickness and thin: bass is big and treble is the high, thin stuff. Bass is like booty, but treble isn’t boobs. It’s just a joke about thick and thin.
You’ve got all the right junk in all the right places, but do skinny girls also have the right junk? (3)
Skinny girls sure do. Any body type is beautiful. It’s all about loving what you got and rocking it.
Are you still getting criticism for allegedly “shaming” thin women?
Yeah, I’m still getting flak. It’ll come for as long as the song lives, but for the most part people are relating to the self-acceptance part of it, which is amazing, because that was my point.
Can you see the oddity of becoming famous for a song based on the idea that you’re overweight when you’re actually not all that big yourself?
Aw, shucks, thanks. It’s just the fact that I’ve struggled with my conception of myself. People have said to me: “You aren’t big.” In high school, when I’d tell my girls I didn’t want to wear a bikini, they’d be, like: “Stop being silly.” I got all the right junk in all the right places!
So it must be strange to be seen as the poster girl for the larger woman.
There was a girl in a beauty pageant who was bigger than the other girls, but not that big – she had a six-pack – but she was held up as the poster girl for bigger girls. My mom was, like, “If that’s thick I don’t know what’s going on.” But I’m definitely bigger than a Rihanna. Pop stars nowadays are all perfect Barbie-doll bodies, and they talk about how they keep their bodies up with hard work, so in my eyes it’s good to have a regular, average body type in the charts. [Epic Records chairman] LA Reid said: “You’re a pop star, and I’m going to sign you and you’re gonna shake your butt.”
Have you found that boys do want “a little more booty to hold at night”?
I never had trouble getting boys in high school, and I thought it was a funny line. All my beautiful, popular, skinny friends had trouble finding a good dude, and I never had a hard time finding a dude to like me or text me. But as a songwriter, I was thinking: “What can we use for the next line, after, ‘My mama, she told me don’t worry about your size’?”
Should you base your self-worth on what men find attractive?
I kinda giggle when people say that. I just wrote a song. I’m not saying this is how women should feel – I just wrote a song and funny, clever lyrics, and that’s how I look at it. And if people can relate to it, that’s awesome.
What made you say, as you recently did, that you don’t consider yourself a feminist?
I’m a 20-year-old girl, and I don’t know a lot about all that stuff and don’t want to be labelled as anything at such a young age. I totally agree with equal rights and women’s causes and most of my songs are woman-power, but I don’t want to be labelled at 20 years old. I was told to watch Emma from Harry Potter’s speech, (4) because it’s supposed to be unbelievable, so maybe I’ll have a different answer then
Is it a big responsibility to be pop’s emblem of self-acceptance? You must be snowed under with tweets from the Megatrons. (5)
I hope Transformers lets me keep the name. It’s helped me on my path, knowing all these girls look up to me, and it helps me learn to love myself. Their support, reading their messages, makes it that much easier. It’s not a lot of pressure, it’s just amazing that one song can change all these lives.
What are some of the benefits, apart from the Megatrons’ love? You’ll probably get a clothes chain asking you to design a range for “curvy” women …
I got some free clothing in Australia – that was amazing. Presents are always fun. And I like the travel and seeing different countries and meeting new people. I got to meet Redfoo from LMFAO and [MC/singer] T-Pain called me up.
You started as a country singer-songwriter. Do you see a bit of country-to-pop Taylor Swiftness in your career path?
Taylor did it right. She did amazingly, and killed it. I’m in awe of how amazing she is – she’s so smart and so great with her fans. I just want to be that cool with my fans. I do a ukulele version of Shake It Off on YouTube.
Not a lot of people know that you self-released three albums and wrote for Nashville stars such as Rascal Flatts.
A lot of people think I came out of nowhere. When you start as a songwriter, nobody knows who you are. I met the guy who wrote Yeah by Usher, which was a huge smash, and nobody knew who he was. I don’t remember his name – he came up in a coffee shop because I was in a meeting with someone he knew, and he shook my hand. My friend said: “That dude, he wrote Yeah.” Songwriters, nobody recognises them. Sia wrote all those songs and finally made it [as an artist], and she’s been around forever too. I was only signed [as a songwriter] for two years, so it’s not like I’ve been doing it for 20 years and nobody cared. But I like people to know I did the hard work first, and now I’m a face.
You’ve received a lot of flak online. Have you heard the expression, “Don’t read the bottom half of the internet”?
Yeah, that’s what I try to do. I make sure I don’t read the comments. My brothers will sometimes tell me them because they think it’ll be funny – they’ll say, “They’re just throwing out swear-words left and right,” and I’m, like, “Don’t tell me!” They’ll send me pictures of fan accounts and they’ll say: “This one is really weird.”
Will your album go in the doo-woppy direction of the single?
It’ll have that feel, and a few different ones. You’ll hear my Caribbean influence, and then my rap and Fugees kind of feel. It’s different.
(1) Debut single All About That Bass has been a worldwide hit, and will go to No 1 in the US on Sunday.
(2) She co-wrote it with the intention of giving it to another artist.
(3) The song contains the term “skinny bitches”, which some have taken as “skinny-shaming”.
(4) Emma Watson launched the HeForShe gender-equality campaign with a speech at UN headquarters last month.
(5) Her punningly self-titled fanbase. The name is lifted from the Transformers franchise.