Is there any story in music today quite so bizarre as that of J.Lo’s “Ain’t Your Mama”? The multimedia titan announced details of the single on April 4, and two days later, revealed its cover art. More or less immediately, fans pointed out that the photo chosen for the sleeve had been re-purposed from a 2003 Esquire shoot:
JLo's 'Ain't Your Mama' single cover recycles a picture from her 2003 Esquire photoshoot. pic.twitter.com/zsdjMEFpet
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) April 6, 2016
A day later, the song dropped, and soon afterward, the personnel credits emerged: The track was reportedly co-written by Meghan Trainor, Dr. Luke, CirKut, Rock City, and Lunchmoney Lewis, and produced by Luke and CirKut.
Naturally, the revelation of Luke’s involvement did not go unnoticed. “Ain’t Your Mama” is a song about a woman’s refusal to cater to her significant other. Meanwhile, as you might have heard, Luke is the subject of an ongoing legal battle with the singer Kesha — who claims she was raped by the producer — so J. Lo’s choice to work with Luke was met with a violent backlash.
— Team Kesha Rose (@crazykeshafans) April 8, 2016
Just the same, the song was a hit on arrival — partly due to Lopez’ performance on the American Idol finale, but also because the vast majority of the listening public hasn’t the faintest idea who Dr. Luke is, what he’s been accused of doing, or frankly how a song is written, produced, or marketed.
Still, the negative reaction was loud enough to convince Trainor to defend J. Lo against her detractors. Today, Trainor told Digital Spy: “I felt terrible when Jennifer got all the hate for [‘Ain’t Your Mama’], and it’s just all ridiculous. It’s such a big song for her … [It was] not fair on her, not at all.”
In fact, claims Trainor, J. Lo wasn’t even aware that Luke was a writer on the song. Here’s some more of what Trainor had to say:
I texted [J. Lo] the song and she had no idea — she thought I did it alone by myself at my house, which a lot of people think because I do do that.
I sent it to her and said, “Do you like the song?” and she said, “I love the song, my kid loves the song — he’s made me play it five times already so I know it’s a hit — when can I cut it?,” so I said immediately, “Whenever you want!”
So…okay, I’m not clear on how Trainor feels she’s helping anyone here. It seems awfully unlikely that J. Lo was NEVER aware of Luke’s involvement, considering he’s credited as both a writer and producer — and to be fair, Trainor doesn’t bother to make any such claim: She just says J. Lo “had no idea” Luke was involved when she first heard a demo of the song sent to her via text by Trainor. Did J. Lo truly have “no idea” until her Twitter mentions blew up on April 7? Come on. So Trainor’s statement has the weird effect of making herself seem like a liar-by-omission and/or AT BEST making J. Lo seem like an idiot.
To be clear, J. Lo is not an idiot. When she worked with Max Martin on 2014 single “First Love,” she had this to say about the process:
I had really wanted to work with Max for many, many years, and it just never happened … For [2014 LP A.K.A.] I was like, ‘I want to work with you.’ I met with him in the summertime, and he was like, ‘I’m just going off to do Adele’s album!’ or somebody he works with all the time. I was like, ‘When are you back?’, he was like, ‘October’, I was like, ‘I’ll wait for you.’” … He’s a super producer, maker of great pop hits. I’ve always wanted to work with him but our paths [hadn’t] crossed. I sought him out.
Let’s allow for the possibility, though, that J. Lo is an idiot. Two thoughts:
• Did Trainor fail to disclose the fact that Luke was both a co-writer and producer on the song? If so, that’s some pretty fucking dubious behavior and she should be deeply ashamed of herself and publicly come clean now.
• Were the members of J. Lo’s team unaware that Luke was at the center of an ongoing, insanely heated front-page controversy involving the alleged rape of a female pop star? If so, they should all be fired today.
Again, J. Lo is not an idiot. With that in mind, some other thoughts:
• Did she maybe miscalculate how the public would react to this story? Maybe.
• Did she do the song because she heard it, knew it was a banger, and knew it would be a hit irrespective of the behind-the-scenes personnel? Maybe.
• Did Epic/Sony — i.e., the label that employs J. Lo, Trainor, and Luke — ask Trainor to make some dumb public apology, hoping it would clear J. Lo of any Luke-related bad PR? Maybe.
• Will it work? Judge for yourself.