Uncomplicated joy. That’s been the cornerstone of Lizzo’s music and it’s very much evident on her new album, Special. You can label her music disco-pop. You can call her music bouncy. But nobody can deny that her focus is on female empowerment.
On Special, most of the hooks are catchy and you don’t get bored even if the overall feel replicates her 2019 album Cuz I Love You. Holding up the song About Damn Time is a great guitar line, reminding one of Nile Rodgers. Grrrls is superbly catchy but is also a reminder of power-play.
“The very fabric of the journey is the music. Music has been therapy for me for a long time, and it hasn’t stopped. I have a therapist, but just because I got a therapist doesn’t mean music has stopped being my therapy; it’s the number one outlet for me. So I feel when you listen to my songs, you hear in almost chronological order, my life, what I’m going through, how I feel, what’s up,” Lizzo recently told Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1.
At the same time, her music is in the zone that attracts criticism as she goes through themes like resilience and temptation on the same album.
“Once people knew who I was and it became kind of solidified, they became more comfortable with using me as some sort of punchline or joke, or immediately they want to criticise whatever I’m doing because there are levels to me that they don’t accept. So I’ve found that I’m always going to receive some sort of backlash or criticism whenever I put myself in a public space, just because of who I am and the way I choose to exist… it’s absolutely a bait now. People use negativity to attract attention, and it makes them feel good to get that kind of attention, which is… it’s very addictive. It is like an adrenaline (rush). And I don’t know… I’m trying to distance myself from even looking at those people and reading those comments. It’s been very difficult because I just feel I can’t escape it,” she told Zane.
Born Melissa Viviane Jefferson, Lizzo has been an underground phenomenon for years, performing in indie hip-hop groups before releasing her debut album, Lizzobangers, in 2013 but mainstream success came with her album Cuz I Love You. Another interesting aspect to Lizzo is her understanding of musical instruments. She has been playing the flute since she was 10 and has worked the classical instrument into her stage performances. And she has an influence beyond the music business.
“If I’m upset and people in the streets are upset, let me go out where the people are. I can’t just sit around, but I think because of the position I was always (been) in, whether from a financial standpoint or a platform, I felt helpless. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. What can I do?’ And I think as soon as I was financially able, I was like, ‘It’s time.’ What’s interesting is that Lizzolovesyou.com website… it’s for my Juneteenth give back that I’ve been doing for three years, where every year we offer these prizes and giveaways, and we raise all of this money and I just give back to Black organisations and businesses from the grassroots. It started in Minneapolis because this was when the George Floyd protests were happening. This year we decided to add Planned Parenthood to the list of organisations that we were going to be giving money to. And this was before the Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade,” she said.
And her thoughts on the song Coldplay, which obviously involves Chris Martin? “You never get used to the feeling of seeing people, who’ve inspired you, acknowledge you. Seeing him is kind of surreal. My sister (Vanessa) bought Coldplay’s first album (Parachutes, 2000) when it came out and you sing the songs. They’re in your DNA, you know the music. I know that it never gets old, and I never want it to get old.”