Lizzo establishes herself with a bang on her fantastic third album. Straight off the bat, the Texas-born multi-hyphenate roars the title of the record, backed by an equally-charged full orchestra, as she admits unashamedly: “I’m crying cuz I love you”.
Melissa Jefferson – the effervescent rapper, singer, flautist, actor and songwriter – is anything but new to the industry, having partaken in musical groups in one way or another since the age of 14. But it was in the last three years that the now-30-year-old Lizzo truly caught the eye of the mainstream media and Atlantic Records, thanks to her infectious personality and funk-filled self-love anthems. Since then, a string of stellar singles – from ‘Truth Hurts’ (2017) to the instant classic ‘Juice’ (2019) – her unapologetic body positivity and incredible series of viral “ho and flute” videos have made her the exciting poster child for a more empowering, inclusive and diverse pop landscape.
On this widely-anticipated record, Lizzo accepts the challenge and assumes the throne with ease. Detailing a dynamic journey of falling in love – with oneself – and all the stages that come with it, she covers everything from the break-up of a toxic relationship (‘Jerome’) to the heartbreak (‘Cry Baby’) to losing your inhibitions (‘Tempo’) before realising that you’re all you needed in the first place (‘Soulmate’).
And while the themes of the album are by no means novel, as this kind of messaging has become increasingly commodified by brands and influencers alike (usually falling within a hair’s breadth of cliché), Lizzo’s sincerity as a genuine, living, breathing exhibition of her mantras is enough to inspire your full buy-in. On ‘Like A Girl’, she subverts the misogynistic phrase to make ‘feminine’ synonymous with strength and power, while emphasising the unlimited boundaries of what it is to be a woman in 2019. “If you feel like a girl, then you real like a girl,” she repeats. Confessing to being the love of her own life on ‘Soulmate’, she explains: “I figured out I had to be my own type.”
Sonically, the production is as flawlessly genre-spanning as Lizzo herself: pop at its core, but with constant references to her jazz roots and historical love of twerking. The perfectly dramatised ‘Cry Baby’ harks all the way back to the blues, and sits next to what is arguably the most twerk-friendly single from the record: ‘Tempo’, which features rap veteran Missy Elliot.
At the album’s crescendo, on ‘Heaven Help Me’, Lizzo finds the strength to cope with the pain of love, and also showcase her impressive vocal range. By then, it’s become clear she’s not only the electric, complex pop star that the world wants – but also the one it needs.