Review: Lizzo's 'Special' Lives Up to its Name

JC Alvarez READ TIME: 2 MIN.

So the world went on lockdown! Instead of cringing fearfully in the corner and succumbing to the pressure that comes with self-isolating, Lizzo decided that she was going to stretch her limits and shatter all expectations.

The artist was still riding high off the success of her last full-length release. The 2019 album "Cuz I Love You" checked every box, and was bolstered by the universal appeal of "Good as Hell," which instantly emerged as the Detroit native's signature song. Her infectious self-confidence was overflowing on "Juice," which immediately became the summer anthem of the season.

The triple-threat didn't settle for radio play and chart-topping success. Lizzo appeared as one of the flock of leading ladies in the critically acclaimed film "Hustlers," starring Jennifer Lopez, Constance Wu, and Keke Palmer. Basking in the glow of the motion picture's phenomenal reception, the artist made the best of COVID quarantine, and dove into her fourth album, working with such notable pop music producers as Max Martin. Drawing inspiration from a multitude of genres, the result lives up to its title: "Special."

The album's 12 songs are the perfect weekend party soundtrack, ranging from homages to '80s R'n'B funk to disco with a hip-hop attitude. Her vocals on lead single "About Damn Time" are the perfect introduction to the album, and are riotously joyful. It is followed up by the provocative "Grrrls," which is this year's girl power"anthem. One of the album's most raucous tracks is "2 Be Loved (Am I Ready)," which has every earmark of an '80s pop rock radio hit. The vocals are perfectly arranged; it's Lizzo at her best.

Continuing to prove that she can be as irreverent as any of her counterparts and make a statement, Lizzo's "I Love You B*tch" is easily one of the album's biggest standouts, and you can just imagine how fans are going to revel in it when Lizzo performs it live. (If Lizzo ever decided to remix it and bring in a guest artist, you could hear Lady Gaga sliding into it and easily elevating the track to new heights.) The album's title track is perfectly matched in its production, mixing soulful vocals, hip-hop lyrics, and sweeping instrumentation that give the track an unbeatable resonance.

Lizzo's embrace of positivity and confidence is the artist's signature distinction. She isn't posing as a role model; she's walking the walk and talking the talk. Lizzo wants everyone to hear and share in the possible; her music doesn't just inspire that, it demands it! Lizzo has a knack for winning lyrics and catchy hooks that make for compelling songs and even more danceable hits. That pours out of the track "Everybody's Gay," which is easily an homage to Michael Jackson's disco days.

She doesn't have to co-op from genres in her music; Lizzo is able to mix multiple sounds and merge music in a way that doesn't feel inauthentic. Lizzo doesn't just want you to hear the music... she wants you to feel it, to taste it and when the spirit moves you – she wants you to dance to it. Her mission is to make you feel special, and here she's achieved that in spades.

"Special" is available now.

by JC Alvarez

Native New Yorker JC Alvarez is a pop-culture enthusiast and the nightlife chronicler of the club scene and its celebrity denizens from coast-to-coast. He is the on-air host of the nationally syndicated radio show "Out Loud & Live!" and is also on the panel of the local-access talk show "Talking About".

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