- 18 Jul 22
Charismatic force of nature reigns supreme on golden fourth outing.
From the moment Cuz I Love You landed in 2019, featuring a nude Lizzo on the cover at her most vulnerable yet self-assured, it was clear that viral hits like ‘Truth Hurts’ and ‘Juice’ was just the beginning. Four years and 170 songs penned later, the hip-hop-flautist-turned-pop-sensation has cemented her star power with sublime style on Special.
Opening with ‘The Sign’, the Detroit native, real name Melissa Viviane Jefferson, quips, “If you’re looking for that sign, bitch I’m it/And I know you see me coming ‘cuz I’m thick”. It’s clear that her brand of body positive healing and infectious confidence continues with fun-fuelled lyricism and breath of fresh air statements. Blending infusions of funk, hip-hop, soul, R&B, pop and disco; which she recently said evokes feelings of resilience - nobody puts the 34-year-old in a box. TikTok hit ‘About Damn Time’ is a Nile Rodgers-style stroke of genius, injecting pure joy into a four-to-the-floor stomper. Race, sexual pleasure, politics, body autonomy; Lizzo leaves no stone unturned without triviality.
‘Grrrls’ sees the versatile artist add her touch to a 1987 Beastie Boys sample ‘Girls.’ Turning the band’s self-confessed misogyny on its head, Lizzo extols the virtues of self-love while celebrating female friendships. The singer also re-recorded a new version of the album's second single after unintentionally using an ableist slur, using her allyship as an example of listening to a marginalised community and taking compassionate action.
Undeniable pop gem ‘2 Be Loved (Am I Ready)’ tackles the struggle of dating when you’ve discovered your worth, with synths dragging the listener (albeit not at all kicking and screaming) towards the dancefloor. The warmth Lizzo feels towards her friends permeates throughout, layering vital sources of platonic love. Much like her close ones, Special picks you up when you're down.
Addictive melodies, Eighties power bops; confessional R&B; Daft Punk; lush orchestral strings; Chris Martin’s warped voice on ‘Yellow’-inspired closing ballad ‘Coldplay’; this album’s got it all. Relatable diary entries on the title track, ‘I Love You Bitch’ and ‘Naked’ don’t simply tick boxes on mental health, the words go deeper at a necessary time in a homogenous industry. "Welcome to my body, I know it's nice to meet it/fantasies been written about the beauty and the sweetness," she croons softly. “I’m a big girl, can you take it?”. The slow jam is decked out with dramatic textures nodding to late '70s Philadelphia soul. The album's pace remains predominantly fast and endorphin-filled, and we can't thank her more for it.
The Mark Ronson co-produced ‘Break Up Twice’ references icon Lauryn Hill, while ‘Everybody’s Gay’ heralds the safe feeling of queer dance spaces without capitalising from LGBTQ+ communities. It’s also got Chic levels of disco gloriousness and booming vocals. While the 12-track project may lack a certain sense of subtlety, we can't help but celebrate the move towards cheese-tinged disco. Special cements Lizzo’s status as a yearned for trailblazer in the business. With zero features, she’s earned that spotlight all to herself...it's about damn time.
Listen: '2 Be Loved (Am I Ready)'
Listen to 'Special' below.
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