No (Meghan Trainor song)

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"No"
A portrait of a young woman with red hair looking straight at the camera, sporting a green top. To her right stands the title, "NØ."
Single by Meghan Trainor
from the album Thank You
Released March 4, 2016 (2016-03-04)
Format Digital download
Recorded 2015 (Elysian Park, Los Angeles, California)
Genre
Length 3:33
Label Epic
Songwriter(s)
Producer(s) Ricky Reed
Meghan Trainor singles chronology
"Boys Like You"
(2015)
"No"
(2016)
"Me Too"
(2016)

"Boys Like You"
(2015)
"No"
(2016)
"Me Too"
(2016)
Music video
"No" on YouTube

"No" (stylized in all caps) is a song recorded by American singer-songwriter Meghan Trainor for her second major-label studio album Thank You (2016). It was written by Trainor, Eric Frederic, and Jacob Kasher Hindlin, and produced by Ricky Reed. The track was released on March 4, 2016, as the lead single from the album. Backed by an instrumental of ripping guitars, the dance-pop and R&B song draws some influences from doo-wop, with lyrics about men who can't take the hint when their advances towards women are rejected.

Its composition was compared by several critics to various pop artists of the late 1990s and early 2000s, such as Britney Spears and NSYNC. "No" was a commercial success, becoming Trainor's second single to reach the top three on the US Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number three. It also reached the top ten in several European countries, including Australia, Austria, Spain, Canada, and Scotland.

Fatima Robinson directed the music video for "No". It was set at a warehouse, noted to be visually darker than Trainor's previous clips and featured her dancing alongside an all-female dance troupe. The clip drew comparisons to the works of Spears and Madonna for its sexual nature. Trainor has performed "No" on several shows, including the 3rd iHeartRadio Music Awards, The Graham Norton Show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and the 2016 Billboard Music Awards. It was also performed during Trainor's The Untouchable Tour (2016).

Background and recording[edit]

In an interview with Fuse's Jason Lipshutz, Trainor stated the song is "a big anthem for ladies about telling a dude, 'Nah, I'm good—I’m out here on my own, and I'm good with it.'" She also said, "The scene is me in a club, and the dude comes up to me and I go, 'No no no. I don't need your hands all over me. I'm good. I'm gonna dance on my own with my girls.'"[1] Billboard gave a preview of the lyrics: "My name is 'no'/My number is 'no.'"[2] Musically, she described the material as "something that's not on the radio" and "different."[3] Trainor wanted "No" to resemble the Britney Spears song "Overprotected", as well as the music of NSYNC and Destiny's Child.[4] Referring to the meeting, Trainor revealed that label director L.A. Reid had told the singer she then lacked a proper lead single for her upcoming album: "he said I have an album of Nice Meghan." Trainor said it took little time to craft the song with producer Ricky Reed, explaining: "I told my producer we needed a big eff-you song, an anthem about girl power that sounded like nothing on the album. We wrote it that day." She added: "I was too scared to go by myself [play the final result for Reid]. L.A. played it 29 times—and we kept counting. I’ll never forget that moment."[5] Ultimately, the song changed the direction of its parent album, as they started experimenting with new musical styles and produced six more tracks.[6]

Composition[edit]

Lyrically, the song discusses men who approach women and "can’t take the hint" when their advances are rejected.[6] Musically "No" is a dance-pop and R&B song that draws some influence from doo-wop, with ripping guitars leading instrumentation.[7] The song opens with modern doo-wop vocals, before it charges up into an early millennium-pop vibe with its beat and crunchy guitar;[8] for Billboard's Joe Lynch "there's a twist - the retro music plays through an old-timey crackle, and then it suddenly comes to a stop. A massive, Neptunes-esque beat kicks in."[7] The song finds Trainor confronting a guy who won't stop pursuing her in a club: "My name is NO, my sign is NO, my number is NO, you need to let it go," she sings during the "catchy, chant-along" chorus.[9] The lyrics were called "clever, sassy, and full of attitude". In the pre-chorus, Trainor tells women everywhere to "pay attention and follow her lead".[9] "No" is written in the key of C minor in common time. The song begins with a tempo of 73 beats per minute for the introduction before increasing to 94 beats per minute. Trainor's vocals span one and a half octaves throughout the song, from G3 to C5.[10] When asked about the song's inspiration an interview, Trainor stated "I want to be better at being single [...] it's a big anthem for helping young teens, young girls, who are growing up and need to know that it's okay that you don't need a man. You can go out with your girls and have just as much fun."[11]

"No" has been noted to showcase a more grown-up and "in-charge" side of Trainor compared to her previous work. Its lyrics involve themes about telling a "pushy guy" to "back off".[12] She went into the studio wanting to write a "big, angry anthem", but described the final product as "an awesome woman anthem about being independent".[12] It has been described as "earwormy" and called "familiar yet altogether new territory" for the singer.[11] Fuse's Emilee Lindner noted the song as a departure from Trainor's earlier work as well, writing that she "ditched the upright bass and the Hammond B and swapped in a ‘90s pop drum kit" and likened it to Mýa's song "My Love Is Like...Wo" (2003). Lindner added "The lyrics promoted the opposite of what Trainor was being chastised for upon her mainstream arrival. It’s an empowerment anthem, but this time, we don't have to filter out problematic lyrics to enjoy it. It’s a flat fuck-you to men feeling entitled to approach women, who, in turn, usually refuse unsolicited attention."[13]

Critical reception[edit]

Writing for Billboard, Joe Lynch stated Trainor "is making one thing clear from outset of her new song 'NO,' it's that there's a lot more to Meghan Trainor than what you think you know." He added: "Trainor was confident on 'Bass,' but on 'NO,' she's entirely in charge."[7] In a positive review, Brennan Carley from Spin wrote that "No" "is definitely a new direction for Trainor, who's mostly tossing aside her sock-hopping persona for no-nonsense truth-telling."[14] Digital Spy's Amy Davidson described the song as "gloriously '90s".[15] Forbes contributor Hugh McIntyre described it as "a noticeable departure from her previous hits. It's sultrier and a little more aggressive."[16] Lucy Bacon of MTV News also called it a "girl power anthem."[17] Mike Wass of Idolator praised the song, describing it as "slinky, turn-of-the-millennium R&B/pop" and tipped it as a cross between Christina Aguilera and Destiny's Child.[18]

Billboard named "No" the 100th best song of 2016, writing "After decades of men singing to women they know 'want it' on the dance floor, Meghan Trainor hits the club and K.O.'s the entitled male ego with one simple word: 'No.' This song is what happens between "Dear Future Husband" and actually finding that husband – you shut down a lot of bull."[19] On the other hand, Time named "No" the eighth-worst song of 2016, noting that Trainor "has been criticized in the past for espousing anti-feminist messages in her lyrics and interviews," and wrote that "'No,' on its surface, seemed like a corrective." The staff called the song's message "flimsy" and its melody "uninspired and repetitive," while also asserting that it "showcases what some have called her 'blaccent,'" and called it "a noteworthy example of the kind of cultural appropriation that has plagued popular music throughout its history."[20]

Chart performance[edit]

"No" debuted at number 11 on the US Billboard Hot 100 on the chart dated March 26, 2016, marking her highest entrance. The single opened at number 2 on Digital Songs with 113,000 sold in its first week of release. "No" also debuted at number 21 on Radio Songs (46 million in airplay audience), marking the highest debut on the chart since Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" had debuted at number 6 more than five years prior. Also, "No" added 3.3 million first-week domestic streams, even without an official music video or audio on Trainor's Vevo channel.[21] In its third week, "No" entered the Hot 100's top ten on the chart dated April 9, 2016, ascending from 12 to 6 and becoming her fourth top-ten hit. The song marked her fastest climb to the top ten, besting the four-week ascent of "All About That Bass". Additionally, "No" became Trainor's second number-one song on the Digital Songs chart, after selling 128,000 downloads during that week.[22] The following week, besides descending to number 2 on the Digital Songs chart with 147,000 downloads sold, "No" ascended from 6 to 3 on the Hot 100, becoming Trainor's second top-three song.[23] It was certified 3x platinum by the RIAA for shipments of 2 million copies and placed at number 45 on the Billboard Year-end chart for 2016.[24][25]

"No" debuted at number 59 on the UK Singles Chart, and later peaked at number 11.[26] The song peaked at number nine in Australia, and spent a total of 13 weeks on the chart.[27] It was certified 3x platinum for shipments of over 210,000 units by the ARIA.[28] It reached number 18 in New Zealand, and was eventually certified gold by the RMNZ.[29][30] "No" peaked at number 20 on the Irish Singles Chart, and at number 77 in Poland.[31][32] Despite its low chart peak, it was certified 2x platinum in the latter country.[33] The song was successful in Canada, peaking at number 10, and certified 3x platinum by Music Canada.[34][35] Additionally, "No" went number one in Latvia and on the Mexico Ingles Airplay chart.[36][37] Other chart peaks include number two in South Africa, number three in Israel and number six in Spain.[38][39][40]

Music video[edit]

Background[edit]

The accompanying music video for "No" was directed by Fatima Robinson.[41] It was shot on March 4, 2016.[42] For the music video, Trainor wanted it to be darker, more sexually appealing and very different than that of her previous videos to match the different sound she opted for with "No".[43] She aimed for it to be of the standard of her music video for "All About That Bass", but with completely the opposite feel.[42] The video included several choreographed routines with a dance move for each lyric; Trainor said it was the most she had danced in her life.[44] Trainor's stylist, Maya Krispin, chose 1990s pop-inspired outfits for the singer that were comfortable enough for her to dance in. Trainor was particularly drawn to metallic gold coat designed by Isabel Marant which was light and aided great movement. Other outfits chosen included a black sequined blazer by Veronica Beard and a customized crimson outfit by Michael Costello. Krispin custom designed the rest of Trainor ensemble: a black jumpsuit with a bedazzled bra, and fishnet bodysuit.[45] Although Trainor wanted the video to be sexier, she opted to wear bodysuits that fully covered her body because she felt insecure about showing her cleavage, particularly her arms.[46] Trainor first shared a still from the clip on Instagram on March 16, 2016.[18] The music video was released on YouTube and Vevo on March 21, 2016.[46]

Synopsis[edit]

Women in fishnet dresses wrapping their hands around each other.
Critics observed the video's sexual nature as a noticeable departure from Trainor's previous work. It received comparisons to the works of Madonna and Britney Spears.[47]

The music video begins with Trainor walking through an abandoned warehouse filled with smoke and old industrial machines.[48][49] A troupe of women are shown running to a location in the warehouse where they meet Trainor to perform a choreographed dance routine after the song's intro.[44] Trainor is also shown in individual scenes kneeling on a floor while throwing her hair back and forth, and standing in front of a high-powered fan.[46] She later proceeds to dance on a platform in the warehouse, accompanied by the troupe. In another segment, Trainor is seen on a couch intertwining her legs with other women and touching theirs and her own cleavage.[46] Throughout the video, there are black and red silhouette shots of a woman dancing with torch flames. Near the end, she appears dancing with open flares.[50]

Reception[edit]

The music video for "No" was well received by critics. Lynch likened Trainor's styling to early 2000s music videos by Spears, and late 1990s videos by Madonna, adding: "It's a much sexier look than we're used to seeing from Trainor, but she owns it, looking as comfortable in the vaguely Erotica-esque outfits of the "No" video as she did in the Easter pastels of her 'All About That Bass' clip."[44] Lorena Blas of USA Today highlighted Trainor's choreography and her growth from "All About That Bass", comparing it to choreography by Missy Elliott and Janet Jackson, and Destiny's Child's music video for "Jumpin', Jumpin'" (2000).[51] Atkinson complimented Trainor's "tough-and-sexy look" and found the video "very Y2K-leaning", likening it to a number of late 1990s and early 2000s music videos.[47] Sasha Geffen from MTV News shared this view, writing that the "No" video "brings back some major '90s pop vibes — think TLC, Destiny's Child, and Britney Spears — and even seems to nod to those early iPod commercials with its black and red silhouette shots".[50] Joey Nolfi of Entertainment Weekly highlighted its change from the subdued style of Trainor's music video for "Like I'm Gonna Lose You" (2015), commenting that she was "confidently stomping through" and pursuing "genuine pop star choreography".[48] John Paul Stapleton of The Boston Globe opined that the video "shows a more sultry side" of the singer and "recalls Janet Jackson in her prime".[52] Jordan Simon from Idolator complimented Trainor's edgier image, noting that she "gracefully avoids the sophomore slump" with the video.[53] Jennifer Davis of InStyle wrote that the clip showed Trainor in a whole new light, and deemed the singer "unapologetic" and her dancing "fierce".[54]

Osterheldt found the song better than the music video, but said the video's sexiness strengthened the message of "No" and praised it for "normalizing a woman's right to say no, [...] in a sexy way", reasoning: "Too often men think a woman's clothes or demeanor mean that she is asking for it, that they are entitled to her body."[55] In less enthusiastic reviews, Brodsky said Nicki Minaj "did the underground dominatrix thing better" with her music video for "Only" (2014),[56] while Dennis Hinzmann of Out magazine criticized Trainor's dancing, writing: "Unfortunately for her the pros show her up and make her look for the most part noncommittal. If you're going to pop, lock, and head snap, you have to feel it in your soul [...]."[57]

Live performances and other usage[edit]

Trainor performed "No" live for the first time at the 3rd iHeartRadio Music Awards on April 3, 2016.[58] She performed the track on The Graham Norton Show on April 8, 2016, on The Voice UK final on April 9, 2016, and on The Ellen DeGeneres Show on April 20, 2016.[59][60][61] It was also performed at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards in May 2016.[62] A-cappella group Pentatonix covered "No" in a video released via their YouTube channel, in April 2016.[63] The song was also covered by Allison Iraheta and other alumni at the series finale of American Idol on April 7, 2016.[64] "No" is featured in the television series Superstore.[65] The song was included on the setlist for Trainor's The Untouchable Tour (2016).[66]

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[28] 3× Platinum 210,000^
Belgium (BEA)[104] Gold 15,000*
Canada (Music Canada)[35] 3× Platinum 240,000^
Germany (BVMI)[105] Gold 200,000^
Italy (FIMI)[106] Gold 25,000double-dagger
Mexico (AMPROFON)[107] Platinum 60,000*
New Zealand (RMNZ)[30] Gold 7,500*
Poland (ZPAV)[33] 2× Platinum 40,000*
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[108] Platinum 40,000^
Sweden (GLF)[109] Gold 20,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[110] Gold 400,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[25] 2× Platinum 2,000,000double-dagger

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

Release history[edit]

Country Date Format Label Ref.
United Kingdom March 4, 2016 Digital download Epic [111]
United States [112]
March 7, 2016 Modern adult contemporary [113]
March 8, 2016 Contemporary hit radio [114]

References[edit]

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