Lizzo's New Album 'Special' Is One Giant Self-Love Letter in All the Best Ways
Let’s see how long I can go without making that joke.
“Special,” Lizzo’s new album just dropped last week and as a Lizzo fan, I for one was very excited.
I remember in Fall of 2021 when she dropped “Rumors,” I screamed because Lizzo was back. As amazing as that song was, that one song didn’t prepare me for the warm hug of an album that we received this July.
While it’s the last track on the album, I think it’s worth listening to first as it sets the mood for the entire project. In “A Very Special Message From Lizzo,” she states:
“So here we are. You’re finally able to listen to this album. I’ve been working on it for three years and I know it’s been a long time, and it’s about damn time I put it out. But you have to know that I took my time for me, but I also took my time for you. I wrote almost 170 songs for this album to find these perfect 12 songs to bring you because I felt like this was what not only what I needed to hear, but you needed to hear and the whole world needs to hear. These are songs about love whether it’s self-love, love for your family, love for your friends, or love for a significant other. I really believe that love for one’s self and for others is what this world needs to be a better place. If you can just take the time to give a little love to yourself every single day, treat yourself with respect, treat yourself the way you deserve to be treated, and then treat somebody else with that same love and respect, that expands, that grows, and that can save a life. It saved my life so many times and I’m so honored to be a part of your life so I hope you enjoy the music. I hope you cry, laugh, dance, twerk, do the splits, do whatever you want to do. I’m honored to be doing it with you. So thank you for listening to ‘Special,’’ loving ‘Special’ and being special, cause if you don’t take nothing away from this album I want you to know you’re special and I’m so glad you’re still with us. Thank you.”
The message of love (self or otherwise) is baked into every single song on this album exactly how she says. It’s intentional, honest, and above all else personal in ways that we don’t get from many artists of Lizzo’s caliber. Rolling Stone called it a radical political statement, comparing it to Beyoncé’s hit visual album “Lemonade,” released in 2016 due to the high level of emotional authenticity. If you remember the think piece boom that happened after “Lemonade” dropped, then you understand the weight of those words.
On this album, Lizzo speaks to themes such as breakups, fat liberation, self-acceptance, sexuality, self-perception and being perceived by others. Lizzo has sadly been the main character for fatphobes, racists, misogynists, you name it, so for her to put out an album saying “Fuck y’all, I love myself no matter how much you hate me,” is radical in and of itself. She doesn’t say it in those words, but that’s the vibe.
On “Naked” she soulfully croons about sexuality and vulnerability as a fat Black woman, in ways that reminds me of her song from her last album “Lingerie.” A few tracks later on “If You Love Me” she sings about love once again, but this time how if someone is going to love her they need to love all of her. “2 Be Loved (Am I Ready)” speaks to that familiar question of whether or not she’s ready for a relationship and love after being single, and especially if she doesn’t completely like herself quite yet. Every song, whether it’s about romantic, personal, or familial love is relatable in ways that makes you lay in bed and stare at the ceiling, wondering just how Lizzo got ahold of your diary.
“Special,” in its totality as a body of work, is a self-love anthem that we need due to the way she speaks to her relationship with her body, race, relationships, and self. It’s a ray of sunshine so bright that it gives me hope in the very dark world that we live in.
If you haven’t listened to this album yet, you should. Light a candle in a dimly lit room, tend to yourself, and soak in Lizzo’s words. Let them cradle you softly, push you to dance and let go, cry, and do all the things she intended and didn’t intend for you to do. Allow yourself to react to this album. It’s genuinely a masterpiece in all of the best ways.
Thank you, Lizzo. It’s about damn time we got an album this poignant (I don’t know how I held off making that joke until the end, but I did). I hope you enjoy this album as much as I did.
Lead image courtesy of Lizzo’s YouTube account