Lizzo is back with a bang: here are 5 takeaways from her new album, ‘Special’

  • The Grammy-winning chart-topper is back with a new album featuring previously released singles including ‘About Damn Time’ and ‘Grrrls’
  • ‘Special’ documents the singer and rapper’s journey on finding love, self-acceptance and hope
Tribune News Service |

Latest Articles

Hong Kong’s rural cleaners struggle to find suitable protection against extreme heat

Top 10: How would you encourage someone to try a plant-based diet?

‘The Little Mermaid’ review: Disney’s live-action remake filled with awkward CGI

The 12-track, 35-minute album is free of collaborations, allowing Lizzo to fully shine in the spotlight in ‘Special’. Photo: TNS

Summertime is here, and Lizzo’s meeting the moment with an album that’s ready-made for the heat.

Three years since her debut album, “Cuz I Love You”, she’s back with the follow-up, simply titled “Special”. Lizzo’s in love, so it’s only natural the topic takes up most of the album, soundtracked by colourful production that will make you want to move.

So far in 2022, Lizzo’s been busy – already, she’s started 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. As she told The Times earlier this year, though, she’s been looking forward to this moment, 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’m going to cry on stage. And I am ready for that moment where I write a song that the whole world sings back at me. I think I’ve got it on this album.”

Here are a handful of takeaways from the new release.

Hong Kong singer Zelos Wong on how coming out has helped him grieve, grow

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

“Special” begins with The Sign, which finds the pop star updating the world on her quarantine moves. It’s clear she’s been healing, working out and eventually saying it’s About Damn Time to feel like herself again.

On 2 Be Loved (Am I Ready), she’s met a man she wants to be with, but she’s unsure if she’s ready for the leap due to scars from previous relationships. Eventually, she takes the leap and navigates the ups and downs of a new relationship. There are also deeper, more introspective tracks, such as If You Love Me, where she sings about how hard it is for her to accept her partner’s compliments.

“Wish I could fall in love with me so easily like you did / Being good to me like I am someone else seems so backhanded,” she sings.

Lizzo performs on NBC’s “Today” at Rockefeller Plaza on July 15, in New York City. Photo: AFP

It’s an album for the summer

Lizzo dropped the album in the middle of July, and the joyful production makes it a perfect fit for the summer. Songs are warm and inviting, with lush chords and dramatic drums that add power to each moment.

About Damn Time is already the song of the summer for many, soundtracking the feeling of stepping out to the party after a bout with internal struggles. There is also Grrrls, which samples Girls by the Beastie Boys and is now more inclusive after she changed a lyric that offended disability advocates.

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

Lizzo drops ‘Rumors’ with Cardi B and talks to YP about confidence, social media and Captain America’s baby

She didn’t need any featured artists

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

Behind the boards, though, plenty of big-time producers, including Benny Blanco, Max Martin and Mark Ronson helped craft the music that carries Lizzo’s vocals. True to modern pop standards, a plethora of people helped write the album – nine people are credited as writers on About Damn Time alone.

‘Pop’ review: Twice member Nayeon’s debut solo single is a positive K-pop summer anthem

She’s singing 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 MTV’s Wonderland in 2016, although it’s not clear if that was the first time they met.

Shape of home: Canto-pop singer Yoyo Sham on how her time away from Hong Kong inspired her latest album

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

“If you have the right person, no. … Not at all. It’s not even a factor,” she said. “It should be mutually supportive, no matter what that person does.”

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

“It would be a shame not to see this through / Who gon’ put up with your Gemini s – like I do?” she sings. (Wright was born on June 9, in the peak of Gemini season.)

On his new album Learning Curve, Canto-pop singer-songwriter Kaho Hung is embracing every stage of his journey

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

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

“Woke up this morning to somebody in a video / Talking about something I posted in a video / If it wasn’t me, then would you even get offended / Or is it just because I’m Black and heavy?” she asks at the start of the song.

Lessons in love with Hong Kong singer Janice Vidal: from toxic relationships to mental health and women’s empowerment

Rather than letting it get her down, she flips it into a motivational message, reminding the listener that they’re special and important regardless of what they are told in the world. Elsewhere though, on If You Love Me, she admits there are times when the hate gets to her and she turns to her partner for support.

“When the world can’t love me to my face / When the mirror lies and starts to break / Hold me close, don’t let me run away,” she sings. “Don’t be afraid.”

Sign up for the YP Teachers Newsletter
Get updates for teachers sent directly to your inbox
By registering, you agree to our T&C and Privacy Policy