Though the recently-crowned mega pop star Meghan Trainor might be seen as the epitome of bubblegum pop to many, her meteoric rise has certainly caused some reverberations in the country music realm. Concerned that she wasn’t thin enough to fit the model of a pop star, Trainor spent her early career as a songwriter. Despite early success in songwriting contests, when she tried to make a move to Los Angeles to pursue songwriting full-time, she couldn’t find the type of collaborators she needed to get her foot in the door.
So Trainor set her sights on Nashville instead where she was more openly welcomed, and when her song “All About That Bass” failed to find a suitor amongst the biggest heavyweights in music like Adele and BeyoncÃ©, she decided to recorded it herself and it became a massive hit. “All About That Bass” is quickly approaching a billion views on YouTube, and everybody that refused to take the young songwriter seriously early in her career is now having severe second thoughts.
Where Nashville songwriter and performer Caitlyn Smith comes into the picture is she was one of the songwriters that was willing to collaborate with Trainor when few others would, and they did so on a song called “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” with another songwriter Justin Weaver. The song appears on Meghan’s Title album as a duet with John Legend, and is slated to be the smash album’s 4th single. Where Trainor’s other recognizable songs are playful and poppy, “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” cuts deep.
Caitlyn Smith has long been a criminally-overlooked talent in Nashville, penning some of the better hits and album cuts for major touring stars, while trying to fit her own career in between. Though she’s already been on the receiving end of some important songwriting credits, it appeared as if her ship would finally come in when her song “Tacoma” was selected by Garth Brooks to be the lead single from his comeback album Man Against Machine. Similar to “I’m Gonna Lose You,” “Tacoma” is more of a soulful song than a country one, but one many country fans won’t complain about it finding its way to their ears.
“Tacoma” was even sent to radio by Garth’s label, and then a last minute audible had “Tacoma” getting switched for “People Loving People” for Garth’s big comeback single. “Mom” was subsequently selected as the second Garth single, though you had the sense it was only a matter of time before “Tacoma” saw the light of day on country radio. Then Sony Nashville CEO Gary Overton resigned his post at Nashville’s biggest label, and now everything is in limbo for Garth and “Tacoma,” and Garth is even saying that with no leadership, there’s no single strategy moving forward. Overton was the guy who now infamously uttered “If you’re not on country radio, you don’t exist”—a very cold assessment for an artist like Caitlyn Smith and others who fight each day to find traction with songs that matter.
But now Caitlyn Smith is in the batter’s box once again with “Like I’m Gonna Lose You,” and it’s a song that could be huge on radio through Meghan Trainor. It’s a shame the avenue couldn’t have been country, especially as the genre continues to struggle to develop female talent and field big songs from female stars.
“I was telling them how I had a terrible nightmare, that I lost my little brother, and I woke up sweating and crying,” Trainor says about writing the song with Smith and Weaver. “I went to go check on him, and he was fine. And I told them what a powerful message that could be in a song.”
It’s not a lack of talent that Nashville suffers from. It’s figuring out how to shuffle the best talent to the front. Like another notable songwriter, Chris Stapleton—who paid his fair share of dues writing for others when he had a voice and a message that could resonate much deeper than what was rising in the mainstream, Caitlyn Smith is a relevant and powerful voice ready and warmed up in the batter’s box, just waiting for her chance at the plate to hit it out of the park.
1 3/4 of 2 Guns Up.