The millennial empowerment icon writes herself into parody on Special’s second single.
US superstar Lizzo writes lyrics for the TikTok generation, insistent self-empowerment of the SheEO brand. It’s a miracle that her music largely avoids insufferability, a feat accomplished by typically great production value and some genuinely witty pen game.
Grrrls, the second single from her upcoming fourth album Special, manages to both kneecap the competitive advantage Lizzo holds over contemporaries as well as generate major political-correctness controversy. Not ideal.
The song samples Beastie Boys, which is cool. It also uses “spazz” as soon as line 2, which is not so cool. The latter became the centre of so much controversy that Lizzo has now changed the lyric, seeming to earn the internet’s respect for apologising and learning from her mistake. This would be notable if the rest of the song weren’t so annoying — “C-E-ho”? Really? Worse is its honest-to-God shoutout to Lorena Bobbitt, which reframes genital mutilation as though girl power. I understand that I’m probably not Lizzo’s target audience, but this feels like a parody. Perhaps Lizzo should have changed more than just the slur.
The instrumental is decent, if repetitive, even for only 2 minutes. The chorus is catchy and well-judged, although “where my girls at?” over-and-over does feel slightly engineered for TikTok. The song is far from Lizzo’s best work; we’ve heard it all before in much wittier, less obnoxious forms.
Grrrls is available now via Nice Life/Atlantic Records, check it out below: