Lizzo is back: 5 takeaways from her new album, ‘Special’

Summer is here and Lizzo hits the moment with an album that’s ready for the heat.

Three years after her debut album Cuz I Love You, she’s back with the follow-up, simply titled Special. Lizzo is in love, so it’s only natural that the theme takes up most of the album, accompanied by a colorful production that will have you moving.

So far, Lizzo has been busy in 2022 — already she’s launched her own shapewear line called Yitty, hosted “Saturday Night Live” and launched a Prime Video show called “Lizzo’s Watch Out for the Big Grrrls.” However, as she told the Times earlier this year, she’s excited for this moment and ready for the world to hear the music.

“I just sold out Madison Square Garden twice,” she said. “I haven’t played it yet, but it’s coming. I will cry on stage. And I’m ready for this moment where I write a song that the whole world will sing back to me. I think I have it on this album.”

Here are a handful of takeaways from the new version.

Lizzo didn’t know if she was ready for love, but she came anyway

“Special” begins with “The Sign,” in which the pop star updates the world on his quarantine measures. It’s clear she healed, exercised, and eventually said it’s “About Damn Time” to feel like herself again.

On 2 Be Loved (Am I Ready) she met a man she wants to be with, but she’s not sure she’s ready for the leap due to scars from previous relationships. Finally, she takes the plunge and navigates the ups and downs of a new relationship.

There are bright moments, as in “Naked”, where she describes how her husband looks at her in bed when she enjoys drawing. There are also deeper, more introspective tracks like “If You Love Me,” where she sings about how hard it is for her to accept her partner’s compliments.

“I wish I could fall in love as easily as you do / Being good to me like I’m someone else seems so sneaky,” she sings.

It’s an album for the summer

Lizzo released the album in mid-July and the upbeat production is perfect for summer. The songs are warm and inviting, with lush chords and dramatic drums adding power to every moment.

“About Damn Time” is already the song of the summer for many, setting to music the feeling of going to the party after a battle with inner struggles. There’s also “Grrrls,” which samples “Girls” by the Beastie Boys and is now more inclusive after she changed lyrics that offended disability advocates.

There are also a few other notable samples – “Break Up Twice” samples “Private Number” by Judy Clay and William Bell, while “Coldplay” samples “Sudden Death” by source Chris and Chris Keys.

Unlike her album Cuz I Love You, which featured Ariana Grande, Gucci Mane, and Missy Elliot, Lizzo is performing on her own with Special. The 35-minute, 12-track album has no features (although Chris Martin leaves a brief intro on “Coldplay”), instead allowing Lizzo to wear multiple hats as a singer, rapper, and her own hype woman.

Behind the boards, however, many major producers including Benny Blanco, Max Martin and Mark Ronson helped create the music that carries Lizzo’s vocals. In keeping with modern pop standards, a variety of people helped write the album — nine people alone are credited with writing “About Damn Time.”

She sings to her boyfriend throughout the album

After months of speculation, Lizzo confirmed in June that she was dating actor Myke Wright. The two worked together as co-hosts on MTVs “Wonderland” in 2016, although it’s not clear if this was the first time they met.

In April, she confirmed on Andy Cohen’s radio show that she had met someone, although she didn’t say who it was. When Cohen asked if her fame made the relationship more difficult, Lizzo insisted it was never an issue thanks to her boyfriend’s “supportive nature.”

“If you have the right person, no. … Not at all. It’s not even a factor,” she said. “It should support each other no matter what that person is doing.”

There are definitely some references to Wright on the album. One comes on the accusatory “Break Up Twice,” where she sings about a man who tearfully left her but doesn’t want to leave.

“It would be a shame not to see this through / Who will put up with your twins – like me?” She sings. (Wright was born on June 9th at the height of Gemini season.)

But by the last song, “Coldplay,” it’s clear she’s realized she wants to be with him. “And we’ve waited so long but the sex is so good / Five years in the making I didn’t know if we were going to do it,” she sings, referring to the long runway before they became a couple.

She doesn’t care if you’re mad at her (most of the time)

Lizzo has been a frequent target of hate online, whether it’s over an outfit she wore to a Lakers game or people trying to embarrass her every time she posts a photo. She occasionally claps back on social media, but on “Special” she once again addresses her critics, questioning their motives and deflecting their attacks.

“Woke up with someone in a video this morning / Talked about something I posted in a video / If it wasn’t me, would you even feel offended / Or is it just because I’m black and heavy?” asks her at the beginning of the song.

Instead of letting it get you down, she turns it into a motivational message, reminding the listener that they are special and important no matter what they are told in the world. Elsewhere, however, in “If You Love Me,” she admits that there are times when hatred overwhelms her and she turns to her partner for help.

“If the world can’t love me to my face / If the mirror lies and starts to break / Hold me tight, don’t let me run away,” she sings. “Have no fear.”

https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/music/story/2022-07-15/lizzo-special-takeaways-myke-wright Lizzo is back: 5 takeaways from her new album, ‘Special’

Sarah Ridley

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