We came across Lizzo some time ago with Batches and Cookies, a stripped down semi-joking but addictive rap song (sample lyrics: “I got my batches and cookies / I got my batches and cookies / I got my batches and cookies / I got my batches and cookies”).
The album Lizzobangers was less interesting and she made her name for her views as much as anything. The video for Batches and Cookies tackled homophobia and Lizzo herself has spoken out about body positivity and self-love; her dancers, the Big Grrrls, are all plus-size.
She has said she wants to be Aretha Franklin but we were expecting more of the same so were taken aback at this: it’s more soul than hip hop; it’s witty and entertaining and she can really, really sing. It’s a lot of fun. (Wikipedia says she has a degree in classical flute).
The only downside is that she’s a proper potty-mouth — this is not suitable for children. Aside from the swearing (occasional but fierce and noticeable) sex is a feature, so as well as bad words you might have to explain what her juicy bits are.
The title track opens and has a big intro, Lizzo’s unexpectedly powerful voice preceding a theatrical full-band sound before settling down to a singalong soul / RnB tune with early swearing, the chorus laying on the theatre in spades.
We’ve no lyrics but she transmits a number of important messages via the songs. Like A Girl is an anthem for strong women, opening with “Woke up feelin’ like I just might run for president / Even if there ain’t no precedent,” the sentiment stronger than the rhyme. Elsewhere she takes in biology, “Only exes that I care about / Are in my chromosomes.”
As well as sticking up for larger people and gay rights, she praises multiracial relationships in Love Looks Better In Colour: “Two tone recipe / Got good chemistry,” and this theme of tolerance and diversity is repeated in Boys, “I like big boys, itty bitty boys / Mississippi boys, inner city boys…”
It’s not all serious. The slower and bluesier Jerome is a message to a would-be failed suitor — “Jerome / Take your ass home / Come back when you’re grown” — while Juice is an upbeat (classic 70s pop soul) song about love; sample lyric: “No, I’m not a snack at all / Look, baby, I’m the whole damn meal.” She’s not all tough: in Crybaby she howls (Aretha style) “Us big girls gotta cry.”
This is hugely enjoyable; a few songs are filler, many are over-produced but Lizzo’s enthusiasm and charm carry it off, and she gives it 100%, all the time. It’s damn good played loud. One for singing along to while driving to work.
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