NEW YORK —
When playing songs from her upcoming sophomore album for her record label, Meghan Trainor heard this word from L.A. Reid: "No.''
Reid, the veteran executive and Epic Records president, was referring to her first single. She didn't have one, he said.
Angry and upset, Trainor called producer Ricky Reed. They had collaborated on some of the songs she'd played for Reid, and in a day, they created "No,'' the anthemic, beat-driven, Destiny's Child-influenced hit that's a departure from her signature doo-wop pop sound.
Reid's thoughts: "Yes.'' More like yassssss!
"I wrote 'No,' and he was like, 'Give me five of these.' And we wrote five more songs,'' Trainor said in a recent interview. "It was such a relief, like I could sleep at night knowing I finally found the single. That's like the biggest stress for an artist, especially [for] album No. 2.''
"No,'' which has already peaked at No. 11 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart, isn't about L.A. Reid. It's a song about boys and female empowerment. Reed, frontman for Wallpaper and a producer behind songs for Jason Derulo, twenty one pilots and Pitbull, said creating the tune was like opening Pandora's box.
The other songs "were very great songs, but 'No' was really the catalyst for the rest of the album,'' Reed said.
Of the songs on her new album, 22-year-old Trainor says with a laugh: "Songs like that wouldn't exist if L.A. Reid didn't push me till I wanted to cry.''
The new album, "Thank You,'' will be released May 13. Trainor has taken a more contemporary vibe compared with her 2015 debut, "Title,'' which featured the hits "Like I'm Gonna Lose You,'' "Dear Future Husband,'' "Lips Are Movin''' and the game-changer "All About That Bass.''
The new songs are more confident and sleek, a reflection of Trainor, not just the singer, but also the person. In her "No'' music video, which debuted this week, Trainor trades her colorful, bright backdrops, buttoned-up ensembles and schoolgirl dance moves for sexy gyrations, tighter clothes and an overall darker setting - in the vein of late `90s pop music videos.
"I'm learning [about] myself even more. I'm learning what clothes are comfortable and what I love and what makeup and hair [I like],'' said Trainor, who has gone from being a blonde to redhead. "We changed everything and I'm very comfortable and all this promo isn't so scary anymore.''
Reed called Trainor's new album eclectic. He said it includes soul, gospel, funk, soca and Nashville, Tennessee, influences.
Trainor said it will include Kevin Kadish, who co-wrote and produced "All About the Bass'' and the majority of her debut album.
"We wrote similar to our old stuff, which I think was the problem when I sent this to my label like, 'This is dope.' And they were like, 'That's what they expect. You're not shocking us yet,''' she said.
Trainor, who has written for Rascal Flatts and Fifth Harmony, added that she has so many extra songs that she's sending them off to friends.
She has plans for a tour, and says her voice is "amazing'' after surgery last year for a vocal cord hemorrhage. Though "Bass'' was ubiquitous, she says the song "saved'' her life.
"It gave me confidence. I didn't have much before. That song made me who I am,'' she said.
Trainor said winning the Grammy for best new artist earlier this year was the best day of her life.
"It told my young self you can be a pop star, you can do all the things you want to do and you don't have to be insecure or not confident about what you look like - all your dreams will come true.''