It might be hard to believe that Lizzo has already put out four albums. But long before the runaway success of ‘Truth Hurts’ and ‘Good As Hell’ in 2019, there was already her 2013 debut ‘Lizzobangers’ and 2016’s ‘Coconut Oil’ EP.
And ‘Lizzobangers’ might just as well function as the title of album number four, ‘Special’, which drops this week. The album arrives hot on the heels of the TikTok success of lead single ‘About Damn Time’, with no shortage of other tracks promising some good 80s-inspired fun.
There’s the very subtle ‘Everybody’s Gay’—that calls us to “dance the night away” and let go of all pretenses. With a hint of ‘Thriller’ in the bassline, no less. Doesn’t hurt that it contains one of the album’s most nonsensically catchy alliterations: “Keep your pussy popping, pop those percolates”.
It’s these moments of brilliant ridiculousness and not taking herself too seriously that have come to characterise Lizzo’s music persona. Against a landscape of racial injustice and body shaming, Lizzo has made her mark with a brand of pop that preaches defiance and self-love.
Title track ‘Special’, which she first teased on TikTok in January, sees her in her best empowerment mode: “In case nobody told you today, you’re special / In case nobody made you believe, you’re special”. It’s sincere without teetering onto disingenuous in a way that few other artists can pull off.
But if there’s a song on the album that can replicate the success of ‘About Damn Time’, it’s the Max Martin-produced ‘2 Be Loved (I’m Ready)’. It’s got the universal relatability that TikTok loves. That key change? That outro? This has got to be single number two.
When she’s not playing the role of cheerleader, Lizzo doesn’t forget to take time to enjoy herself, too. ‘Naked’ is a sensual ballad for the bedroom. ‘Break Up Twice’ is a sultry neo-soul number produced by Mark Ronson that samples Lauryn Hill’s ‘Doo Wop (That Thing)’.
With ‘Special’, Lizzo has served up a collection of pop music the way she does best: tongue-in-cheek songs that make a statement, with hooks that will have you humming without realising it. This being Lizzo’s first album since her breakout in 2019, ‘Special’ certainly has big shoes to fill. At almost ten years since her debut, Lizzo is having her moment, and it sure feels good as hell.