Maren Morris on How ‘The Middle’ Collab ‘Changed Her Life’ (INTERVIEW)
Maren Morris celebrates the power of women—including her own—in the moving music video for her empowering new single, "Girl."
Released Jan. 25, the video for the melodic pop-rock-country hybrid track sees the genre-defying singer and a medley of other diverse girls navigate a series of challenges young women often face in the world, from casual sexism to assault. The powerful visual paints a broad picture of the daily trials and tribulations facing women today, as well as the hope of change just around the corner.
"I hope that fans take away a sense of hope, and that they realize everything is going to be okay—no matter the struggle they’re facing right now," she tells PopCrush about the song and its visual.
Beyond "Girl," Morris is having a power moment of her own. Her career has taken off in incredible ways over the last year, culminating in an impressive five 2019 Grammy nominations and an upcoming performance at the award ceremony (Feb. 10) alongside some of the industry's most major artists, including Dolly Parton, Miley Cyrus and Kacey Musgraves. (Not a bad way to kick off a new year, right?)
Below, Maren Morris opens up about her Grammy nominations this year, her forthcoming album and the lasting impact of "The Middle," her hit EDM collaboration with Zedd.
"Girl" packs a powerful punch and is such a great feminist manifesto about self-worth and self-power. What led you to this topic at this particular moment?
The song came to be as I started writing a letter to another woman and addressed her on the unnecessary competition between us. Then, I very quickly realized I wasn’t talking to someone else: I was talking to myself, because we are all sort of each other’s biggest critics. “GIRL” is about every girl, not only myself. I sing “GIRL” to anyone who feels ostracized, shunned or lesser than.
How do you feel about the current state of country music with regards to women artists today? What, if anything, needs to change?
I think it’s important for women to be heard, and it’s also equally important for women to support other women.
"The Middle" just turned one year old last week and shows no signs of slowing down. Looking back on the immense success of that collaboration, how would you reflect on its trajectory this past year?
“The Middle” changed my life. Looking back, I’m so honored to have been a part of this song and have loved every minute of it. Zedd and I are not two you might naturally pair together, but “The Middle” turned out to be such a great marriage of genres. Since the Grammys are known for recognizing unlikely collaborations, it is a full circle moment to be nominated for something that Grammys are all about.
What's been your most memorable moment surrounding "The Middle"?
There have been so many, but when I was on Niall Horan’s world tour, I remember the crowds were singing along to “The Middle.” Realizing that a song I sang had reached other continents was when I really realized the magnitude.
You're nominated for five Grammys this year. How did you react when you found out?
I was actually taking off on a plane right when it was announced, but thankfully I had WiFi so I could text everyone about it. It’s pretty surreal to be nominated in a year that I didn’t release an album, so to say I’m honored is an understatement.
Is there a category you're nominated in that you're most over the moon about?
I am over the moon about all of my nominations, but I’m especially excited about Country Song of the Year. “Dear Hate,” is a such a deeply personal song that I wrote together with Tom Douglas and David Hodges. Getting to perform the song with the legendary Vince Gill is a true honor.
Who are some other nominees this year whose nominations you're really excited for?
There are so many female artists I am such a fan of, but two women that stand out to me this year are Brandi Carlile and H.E.R. Both are such powerful and versatile artists, and I’m really excited to see them as a fan at the show.
How are you preparing for your upcoming tour?
Since the tour is for my upcoming album, there are a lot of new songs that fans haven’t heard yet. I’m looking forward to getting on the road and performing these songs live for the first time for the fans.
What's been the most memorable studio or writing experience you'd have while working on your upcoming album?
I also have a collaboration with Brandi Carlile on the album called “Common,” that comes out before the Grammys this weekend. I’ve been a fan of Brandi’s ever since she released Bear Creek, and I got to perform with her during CMT’s Artists of the Year. We got to perform “Common” together at her Girls Just Wanna Weekend festival in Mexico this past weekend, so having a song together on my new album is an absolute dream come true.
What's your approach to navigating new sounds and sonic spaces you haven't dabbled in before?
There is definitely a beauty in navigating uncharted territory, and I think if I write what is going on around me—and the feelings I’m experiencing in present time—what comes out will be natural and authentic to me.
What do you want to say to people who have tried to limit you to one genre of music or who have tried to pigeonhole you?
Rather than focusing on a genre, I focus on making music that is meaningful. You have to let songs happen how they are meant to be; I want the lyrics, message and melody to say something, no matter the genre.