2019 was absolutely bonkers. But it wasn’t necessarily bad bonkers. In fact, this year catapulted a beacon of hope for ourselves, our future, and our present. And her name is Lizzo. Her album Cuz I Love You dropped amid a chaotic year of sad-boy rap and some interesting genre-bending. Like every other person searching for happiness in this world, I adore the whole thing. Now, after months and months of using the album as a holistic anti-depressant, I will tell you exactly why I adore each track.
(Additionally, I wrote this review while listening to the clean version of this album. So you can listen to it with your mom! Your mom would love this album. Trust me.)
Cuz I Love You
Ho lee mo lee. Right out of the gate, Lizzo is belting for her life. And so are the horns in the background. The chorus truly sounds like it could be an 1960s soul song, then Lizzo carries the verses along with a metered swagger that never fails to make your head bob in time.
But let none of the other elements of this song overshadow her sheer vocal performance. Specifically he third time she sings the “I’m cryin” part and there’s an audible strain in her voice, it GETS TO ME. (She really IS crying, isn’t she?) This first song serves as a reminder that not only is Lizzo a high-energy, body positive queen, but girl can SANG.
Like A Girl
In a perfect world, this song would be in every sorority recruitment video from now until the end of time. “Only Xs that I care about are all up in my chromosomes.” If that was this song’s only witty and charming and hilarious line, I would still love it. But it isn’t.
I’m overwhelmed by how smart this song is. It’s so aware of cultural touchstones, specifically the “fight like a girl” trope. (Also, shoutout to the line “If you feel like a girl, then you’re real like a girl” for not only rationalizing ladies’ emotions, but also being inclusive of trans women! Yes!)
And strangely, although Lizzo was crying in the last song, I am crying in this one. What can I say? Realizing I’m strong and can do anything I want on my own makes me really emotional.
This is the big single, so I’ve been bumping it for a few months. It plays at my office and I feel so much better every time it does. It’s also one of the few songs I can listen to while running and actually feel proud to exist in my body. Which is super necessary. If you only listen to one Lizzo song ever, make sure it’s this one.
And THE MUSIC VIDEO? I’m sorry, BOTH OF THOSE MUSIC VIDEOS? I’m a huge Drag Race fan, so the person who concepted this video knows my heart. But the first one is better, I think. Wow. She is so charismatic and effervescent.
And I will reiterate: exercise to this song. Endorphin city.
Okay I also cry to this one. What does that say about me?
Nah, but seriously. This whole album is full of dance-in-the-mirror songs, but this is the most dance-in-the-mirror of all. Plus, I love a good handclap chorus. It’s absolutely meant to be performed/chanted to live. Thank goodness I was able to see this queen at Indianapolis Pride. The folks of my city were moving and screaming like crazy people in public to this song. And it was what we deserved.
My favorite Lizzo songs are her high-energy, “I am who I am” type of bops, but hey, girl’s gotta fill a catalogue. This slower number is particularly wonderful. Even when breaking things off with a former lover, she has all the “I’m worth it” swagger and integrity we’ve come to expect.
The best part of this song is the part we don’t usually hear in breakup narratives: “I never said I was perfect or you don’t deserve a good person to carry your baggage,” and later, “I’m tryna be patient and patience takes practice/ the fact is, I’m leaving so just let me have this.” This may be the realest breakup narrative ever. Sometimes you don’t t hate them, you just know it isn’t right.
Damn, maybe this one ALSO makes me cry? What in the ever living…
Before this beautiful gift of an album came into my life, I was listening to a lot of Prince. Like the Purple One, Lizzo hails from the frigid art metropolis of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and there are songs in this album where YOU CAN HEAR IT. An obvious nod is the guitar jangles on “Juice,” but this song takes a more subtle one, and it sorta reminds me of the breakdowns in “Darling Nikki” and “Nothing Compares 2 U.”
A big theme on this album is Lizzo owning how she feels, and being unashamed about having emotions. (We hear it again especially on “Exactly How I Feel.”) What I love about Lizzo is how multi-dimensional she is, all for the sake of proclaiming her selfhood. Sure, it’s great to own who you are, but sometimes it becomes an expectation not to struggle. It isn’t so easy to freely express your emotions as a woman enduring societal pressure! Sometimes you gotta fight yourself over it! Lizzo is honest about it, and that’s so wonderful to hear.
Tempo (Feat. Missy Elliot)
In a perfect world, this song would play at every sorority formal, every wedding reception, and every dance club in the United States of America. Every bit of this lyrical content (especially “Slow songs aint for skinny hoes”) is what Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass” should have been.
Don’t worry, we do not practice Missy Elliot erasure in this house. This is a perfect collab. If you need no other reason to listen to this song, Missy rolls her Rs for nearly half of her verse. The woman is a machine. Literally the perfect combination with Lizzo.
Also, LIZZO PLAYS THE FLUTE AT THE END. Yep, that’s her.
Exactly How I Feel (Feat. Gucci Mane)
Missy Elliot is the better collaboration on this album (as I am very openly biased toward women, regardless of the consequences), but this one is still cool.
To be fair, I had never heard Gucci Mane before this song, and I didn’t realize his rap calling card was him yelling “It’s Gucci!” But it fits! I’m not mad at his verse at all, and it might be the most danceable part of the song. (Mostly because I don’t want to dance to Lizzo’s belt. I want to gesture and sing along.)
I don’t have synesthesia (that disease where you see music in certain colors), but in my mind this song is a cheerful, bright, sunny yellow. What does that even mean? Who let me write about music? It’s good, okay?
Better In Color
This would be in a modern rewrite of Hairspray. In fact, give me a version of Hairspray with Lizzo as Motormouth Maybelle. Or better yet. Little Inez Stubbs. (Although realistically, this song would be sung by Penny Pingleton.)
(Also, she sounds very Kesha saying “Rainbows and sh*t” quietly under the breakdown. I’m a fan.)
Heaven Help Me
This song’s outro is ALSO a flute solo. (And a really tasteful one, at that.)
As the title suggests, this song is SULTRY. It’s a slinky slow jam that actually has a lot less of the campy quality that I love about a lot of the songs on the album. It’s sincerely sexy. And she’s owning it. Like, damn.
I was really disappointed when this song was over. I wanted more! But a refreshingly unexpected note to end on. Very cool, very cool.
I give it five out of five wall twerks.
Brb, taking her with me into 2020.