After three long years, Lizzo’s follow-up to Cuz I Love You is finally here. Special, the singer’s highly anticipated fourth studio album, has arrived to offer a mood-boosting salve for the season. Summertime sadness got you down? Lizzo’s Special will be able to help. From its songs about body positivity, embracing one’s sexuality, and letting oneself finally fall in love, the album is pure, feel-great pop — even if it can get a little ham-fisted at times. The singer has proven herself to be a master of getting people to dance, and on Special, there’s plenty of room for you to do just that.
The best songs on Special play with the Lizzo’s typical formula for writing music. Beyond the big horns and exuberant delivery that we’re all used to, songs like “Break Up Twice” and “If You Love Me” experiment with rock and folksy sonic palettes to house the singers’ bombastic lyricism. Other tracks push different boundaries of her craft as they showcase some of her most descriptive and personal songwriting yet.
Below, NYLON rounded up the five must-hear tracks of the album. From “2 Be Loved (Am I Ready)” to “Coldplay,” these songs offer the best look into the direction Lizzo’s artistry is heading.
“2 Be Loved (Am I Ready)”
Lizzo is an award-winning pop star, but she’s also one of the most relatable celebrities around. It’s why her songs, with their candid lyricism and fearlessness broaching topics like insecurity, depression, and more, have resonated with so many people around the world. On “2 Be Loved (Am I Ready),” Lizzo tackles one of the most universal questions yet: is she ready to fall in love? As she battles with her feelings — “I'm in my bed, I'm way too fine to be here alone/ On other hand, I know my worth/ And now he callin' me, why do I feel like this/ What's happened to me?” — it’s over a bright, energetic beat that sounds like it was pulled straight from an ‘80s aerobics video. That’s the other great thing about Lizzo: her vulnerability never eclipses her need to dance. — Steffanee Wang, Associate Music Editor
“Break Up Twice”
This track has all the staples of a Mark Ronson-produced joint: a soulful guitar hook, lyrics that are at once a celebration and a warning, and a pitch perfect sample — in this case, Lauryn Hill's classic "Doo Wop (That Thing)." Rock Lizzo is the best Lizzo, and on "Break Up Twice" her vocals shine. — Claire Valentine, Entertainment Editor
Lizzo beckons us to join her on the dance floor, a place that's safe and where, confirming what we always suspected, "everybody's gay." Who are we to say no? Any opportunity to let loose this summer is a welcome salve. — CV
“If You Love Me”
It’s a pleasant surprise when “If You Love Me” comes on and you realize it’s not another big pop number, but rather a folkier turn for Lizzo. The acoustic guitar-led track is a rare moment of sonic intimacy from the singer, as well as a new context to hear her voice in. And she sounds good — breezy and close up, stripped of all the usual pop glitter and glamour. Lizzo’s writing has always been down-to-earth, and “If You Love Me” proves she could also go the singer-songwriter route too if she ever wanted. — SW
It can be a risky move sampling a song as ubiquitous as Coldplay’s “Yellow,” but Lizzo and producer Ricky Reed make it work in more ways than one on “Coldplay.” Most notably, the sample is warped, distorted, and placed into a completely different environment — amid jazzy, smooth, lounge music. Lizzo does her part by pairing the sample with some of her most vulnerable writing yet as she finally accepts that she’s falling in love: “Five years in the makin', didn't know if we would/ Do you say this shit to other people?” As the closer to the album, “Coldplay” definitely lingers on the mind. You come for the sample, and stay for the happy ending. — SW