Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Lizzo delivers the self-love soundtrack ‘Special’

Lizzo has become one of music’s most infectious talents, creating hits that shed light on important topics like self-esteem and inclusivity – all topped with a cheeky smile. 

So, when the self-love-rep artist took three years away to craft her new album to perfection, her fans had high expectations. 

The popular ‘Truth Hurts’ singer took to stardom in 2019 with her third studio album, under a new label ‘Cuz I love you’ and the world could not get enough of her style, honest lyrics, controversies and her ‘love yourself’ approach. 

The singer said in an interview with SiriusXM's 'The Heat' that she wrote nearly two hundred songs for the album, which she started recording in 2018. The singer stated she did not just want to make a standard pop album but she wanted to have a message; a goal that she both accomplished and fell a bit short on. Taking two hundred songs and narrowing them down to twelve, the album has a runtime of only thirty-five minutes. It will leave the listeners thinking it was over too fast, making them want more even though it is still well-sated with fun.


Lizzo has a clear message on the album about healing and love, however, it also feels like a standard pop album with a touch of her personal brand. The album contains anthemic lyrics that could broaden her image but ultimately returns to her comfort zone. ‘Special’ feels like it provides all the clubby, poppy endorphins that a pop album should require for a single summer. It feels a bit like the singer was caught somewhere in the middle of writing to represent her person and her personal brand. 


The worldly combination of successful producers such as Swedish mastermind Max Martin, American Ricky Reed and a short track with Londoner Mark Ronson as her collaborators, who are superstars in their own right. They all work together here to make a spotlight shine brighter than ever. The lyrics of this album keep the star every bit as conversational and quotable as a waiting fanbase would want or need but her R&B and neo-disco hooks also paint a larger picture of her bubbly and blunt personality.


Occasionally, on songs that are not as ecstatic, she leans towards the complexities that challenge the one-dimensional image of her as the queen of mirror pep talk. She then retreats to the comfort zone of songs like ‘Special’ and ‘Birthday Girl’ which features a spoken-word segment of people gleefully shouting out their astrological signs. There are even tracks that branch out of the 70s/80s funk reproductions such as ‘Everybody’s Gay’and ‘The Sign’. There is also tons of sampling from other artists; the most controversial and shortest song of the album, ‘Grrrls’samples the popular Beastie Boys song ‘Girls’‘Break Up Twice’ samples Lauryn Hill which has been a popular trope this year and ‘Coldplay’ shockingly samples Coldplay.


The album is simply about love in all its forms; the pop singer continues to sing out affirmations and anthems for all the girls. You definitely feel that with‘I Love You Bitch’, especially if you’ve been paying attention to how universal a term of endearment “bitch” has become in Lizzo’s endless use of it on the album. While keeping to the soundtrack of loving yourself, the other hand of the album explores if all this work Lizzo has done on her self-confidence has made it more difficult to let her guard down and allow herself to be swept away by romantic love, all whilst wrapped in a glittery bow.


Despite not containing wrenching ballads or even sad songs, this new Lizzo album is still somehow a rollercoaster of emotions and overall, a blast for the summertime.


Hope Orr


Image: ‘Special’ Official Album Cover


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