The Inexorable Thirst of the Viral Meghan Trainor Press Release
Back in the early days of The Onion, when we all worked together in a cozy little office right in the heart of Madison’s popcorn district, one of my guilty pleasures was terribly written press releases.
A good press release is damn near invisible in its sleek professionalism. A good press release never calls attention to itself. It’s all about that bass, of course but it’s also about the clients and their needs, not a publicist’s need to establish what a funny and smart and cultured writer they are.
Press releases for local bands were the best, and also the worst. In Madison, at least, no one seemed to play any one genre of music. No, seemingly every press release that hit our inboxes or arrived through the mail promised a chunky, unique fusion of funk, jazz, blues, jam rock, ska, pop, punk and rap, with a heavy psychedelic and prog feel.
For some reason the press release that stands out in my mind decades later was for a ska band that boasted what the press release adamantly insisted were the “stankiest horn section in business.”
What did it mean to have the stankiest horn section in the business? I have no idea, but that unfortunate turn of phrase continues to take up valuable real estate inside my brain along with the “Turtle Club” scene in Master of Disguise and the jingle for the DJ Jazzy Jeff and Fresh Prince 1-900 number.
You don’t want the writing in a press release to stand out. A good publicist should be exclusively focussed on publicizing their client’s endeavors, not their own sassy awesomeness.
On that level, the press release for Meghan Trainor’s surprise Valentine’s Day EP Love Train might just be the least successful press missive of all time. In a remarkable turn of events, pop culture writers like myself are writing about its insane abuse of the English language and nuclear-level attitude instead of the inveterately disposable bit of pop nonsense that it is ostensibly promoting.
To give the deranged genius who penned this masterpiece credit, they do manage to sound professional for five whole words. Like a sane, reasonable press release, this begins with “Valentine’s Day is around the corner”, which is reasonable and has the benefit of being true.
Things quickly take a turn, however, when we’re presented with what are apparently our only two pop culture choices this Valentine’s Day: “smashing bae’s junk to smithereens” or “making out with a pint of Phish food.”
Bae, for all you fellow grown-ups out there, is a term of affection, like boyfriend or girlfriend, or fuck buddy, but dumb and juvenile and annoying and terrible. I’ve always associated the phrase “junk” with testicles and, to a lesser extent, the penis so I’m not exactly sure why this press release posits “smashing” a partner’s junk as an erotic experience. Of course “smash” can also mean fucking but for the love of God, do we really want to combine violent-sounding words with sensual references to a dude’s nut sack and whatnot?
This press release is so dense with craziness that there’s still ample lunacy left in the above sentence alone. We’re instructed we need some “Valentine’s Day bops” to get us “in the mood” for “LOVE”, only instead of a boring old o we get an exciting, sexy, Valentine’s Day-appropriate heart.
The press release is written in the voice of your sassiest gay friend, the kind who can call you a bitch and have you loving it. Sure enough, in the next paragraph we’re told, “You know you want it. And you can freakin’ get it b*tch. “
Wait, why am I being called a bitch? What did I do? I just wanted some Valentine’s Day bops. Is that so wrong?
We then move on to the gist of the press release: Meghan Trainor, America’s best loved songstress, apparently married the kid from Spy Kids in the wedding of the century and are now the Elizabeth Taylor/Richard Burton of our day.
“Unless your phone has been broken for a hot minute you know that Meghan just got married to the ginger from Spy Kids” the press release goes on to insist, unreasonably. Look, my phone is working just fine. I did not know that Trainor had married the kid from Spy Kids because I maintain a healthy and appropriate level of interest in Trainor’s love life, which is none.
The press release goes on to brag, “We know you want to hear songs about all the hot newlywed sex Meghan and Daryl Sa-BAE-ra are having (did you see what we did there?. Which is why you’ll love the banging single “All The Ways.”)”
No offense to Trainor or Sabara, who are both lovely human beings who I am sure enjoy a wonderful sex life, but I do not want to hear about them fucking. Yet this press release is intent on shoving their married, heterosexual sex life in our collective face and that of Trainor’s poor sibling, who is quoted as quipping “As if all the PDA, including foot massages, butterfly kisses and piggy back rides weren’t cringe-worthy enough, I’ve got to film it all!”
A good press release never lunges for the spotlight. This press release, on the other hand, pretty much sucks itself off for being so clever and sassy and outrageous. It should be taught in marketing classes going forward as an unfortunately unforgettable example of how the wrong press release can completely upstage what it’s supposed to be pimping.
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