Lizzo - Special Music Album Reviews

Lizzo - Special Music Album Reviews
As the relentlessly positive artist ascends to pop culture ubiquity, her hook-filled and saccharine music feels increasingly boxed in by the Lizzo brand.

Not long ago, Lizzo distilled her songwriting process into just three short sentences. On an episode of David Letterman’s Netflix series My Next Guest Needs No Introduction, the singer and rapper coached the former late-night host through recording a song at her Los Angeles home studio. In what felt like an obvious set-up, Letterman grumbled a few self-deprecating bars at the mic— “I’m ugly, I sweat, I’m old”—before Lizzo interjected. “To make it a Lizzo song, you gotta be positive,” she said. “You can’t say, ‘I’m ugly.’ If you do say, ‘I’m ugly,’ you gotta say, ‘I’m ugly, but I like it.’”

That simple formula may be part of why Lizzo was able to write, in her estimate, “175 to 200” songs for Special, the follow-up to her Grammy-winning major label debut Cuz I Love You. The other half of the equation is undoubtedly her tireless work ethic: Since releasing Cuz I Love You in 2019, she’s launched a size-inclusive shapewear line, invested in the at-home fitness startup Hydrow, and signed a TV production deal with Amazon, which premiered her first project, the reality dance competition Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls, earlier this year. All the while, she’s been active on every social platform imaginable, correcting people on her own TikTok dance challenges and posting weekly glam shoots to Instagram. Her mission to promote empowerment and positivity, to ensure that her fans never feel alone, has manifested itself in making sure they never go a day without forgetting she exists.

The 12 tracks that made it onto Special certainly support that idea. Like Lizzo’s breakout hit “Truth Hurts” before it, lead single “About Damn Time” has achieved a cultural ubiquity that few artists could hope to reach. Perhaps the Max Martin-produced “2 Be Loved (Am I Ready),” with its groove indebted to Hall & Oates and ecstatic call-and-response chorus, is heading towards the same milestone. That touch of familiarity is key to the album: On the Mark Ronson collaboration “Break Up Twice,” Lizzo interpolates Lauryn Hill over a soulful horn section in order to get real with a back-and-forth lover. Combining voice-cracking vulnerability with some meme du jour pull-quotes (“Who gon’ put up with your Gemini shit like I do?”) is the Lizzo specialty, and hearing her in her element is a great reminder of why so many have turned to her music for catharsis, joy, and understanding.

That appeal becomes more difficult to parse out whenever Special is watered down by clunky writing and, more often than not, the kind of saccharine pop production designed chiefly for playlist adds. A good chunk of the album reads like a checklist of streaming-friendly social events such as birthday parties (“Birthday Girl”), bachelorette parties (“Grrrls”), and Pride afterparties (the very vibey “Everybody’s Gay”). In its effort to reach the masses, Special has the unfortunate fault of both trying too hard to hit the zeitgeist—like the nonsensical Tesla metaphor on opener “The Sign”—and striving for pure blahtitude. The latter is most apparent on the album’s title track, where the gap between Lizzo’s detailed verses about her pre-fame life in Houston and the all-caps “LOVE YOURSELF” chorus couldn’t be wider.

In fact, when it comes to happiness, some of the most satisfying songs on Special—the ones that come closest to finding inner peace—are also the most subdued. As made clear by the title, “Naked” is a sultry stripped-down track where Lizzo urges a paramour to “come make this body feel sacred” with no hint of shame or remorse. On album closer “Coldplay,” over a chiptuned sample of Chris Martin, she wistfully recalls the early days of a love affair, where simply hanging out and shooting the shit with another person can realign your entire view of yourself, for better or worse. “Do you say this shit to other people?/I don't think that I could,” she coos, over and over. It’s the most genuine, and the most blissful, that she’s ever sounded.

Somewhere in the wake of Daft Punk’s retro-futuristic Random Access Memories and Ronson’s “Uptown Funk,” a kind of buoyant, disco-influenced pop sound began to take over the charts. Out of all its practitioners—Dua Lipa, BTS, Doja Cat—Lizzo is perhaps the one who best captures the rapturous, sequined appeal of the genre, both in her ability to craft life-affirming hooks and in her overall self-image. Look no further than her Rolling Stone cover spread, or to her former mentor Prince, whose Minneapolis funk is draped all over Lizzo’s music. The only component that she’s missing, really, is that unique Studio 54 blend of sleaze and transcendence that artists like Jessie Ware and the Weeknd have been able to better replicate. (The provocative single “Rumors,” where Lizzo traded saucy zingers with Cardi B, is sadly nowhere to be found on Special.)

But that’s not really what she’s about. At a time when the relationship between artist and fan is in flux with each social media platform update, Lizzo has made it a point to listen and learn, for the most part. She switched out ableist lyrics in her song when asked to do so; she regularly hosts Instagram Lives, where she cracks jokes and tells candid stories. On “Birthday Girl,” she devotes the entire bridge to the voices of other women, sharing their birthdays and astrological signs. To her most devoted fans, and even to some casual listeners, these gestures towards inclusivity can mean the world. The music is just icing on the cake.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Lizzo - Special Music Album Reviews Lizzo - Special Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Thursday, July 28, 2022 Rating: 5

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