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Review of new Lizzo album, 'Special'

In a drought of self-love, Lizzo’s new album waters the garden of hope

Enjoying the sunshine, Bellingham resident Maddison Miller sits on her lawn and listens to the song ‘Special’ off Lizzo’s new album called ‘Special.’ // Photo by Rowan Westwood

“In case nobody told you today… you’re special,” said Melissa Viviane Jefferson, or as most people know her, Lizzo

She’s the queen of spreading self-love and positivity through her music. 

Lizzo released her fourth studio album, “Special,” on July 15, 2022, and it’s her most empowering one yet. 

For me, plugging into any Lizzo album might as well be a therapy session. Her newest album, “Special,” is in fact special because you are made to feel confident in your own skin. 

Struggling with my body image from a young age, I have sought out music that helps me feel good in my own skin. Nothing has come close to Lizzo.

At 22 years old, I wish younger Rowan heard Lizzo. 

On the days I hated the way my body looked, this album gives my younger self and present self a big hug and says “you’re beautiful, you’re special.”

Lizzo’s music empowers many different people, but one community, in particular, is marginalized people, said Yarrow Ling-Hope, a licensed mental health counselor. 

“Lizzo herself does not instill confidence and empowerment in me as an individual, those are qualities I have worked on internally for many years; but she does empower marginalized communities as a whole, thus helping myself and other marginalized folx move into spaces and have a voice,” Ling-Hope said in an email. 

Lizzo is amplifying the body positivity movement through songs that are catchy, real and raw. She’s saying “here I am, and I won’t apologize for who I am or how I look.” 

This may seem moderately easy for an ordinary person to do, but she’s doing it in front of billions of people. 

With millions of hits already, Lizzo’s song “Special” might as well be the new anthem for self-love. 

Songs like this really get people moving, said Julia Downing, a Lizzo fan and Western Washington University alumna. 

This song in particular confronts the comments and hate she receives at times, and overcoming that.

With lyrics like, 

“Fame is pretty new, but I’ve been used to people judging me

That’s why I move the way I move and why I’m so in love with me…

In case nobody told you today 

You’re special (special)

In case nobody made you believe 

You’re special (special)” 

It's important to have feel-good dance music, it's rough out here, said Nate Tatem, a musician who makes electronic dance music. 

Tatem said if the music is making him feel a certain way, hopefully it makes others feel the same. 

“I really focus on the feeling and the soundscape that I’m trying to pull somebody into,” Tatem said. “We’re allowed to feel good and if music can bring you there then hell yeah!”

I think the most notable song on the album, “2 Be Loved (Am I Ready)” confronts the fact that in order to be loved by others, you must first love yourself. 

“How am I supposed to love somebody else when I don’t like myself?

Like, ooh Guess I better learn to like this, ooh (true)

It might take my whole life just to do (damn)”

This concept of taking time to appreciate yourself is a universal hardship. 

“We need more people who are open to talking about their lives and struggles,” Downing said. 

Music has that unspoken comfort that’s hard to explain.

Music is empowering because you’re able to connect on a level that’s deeper than any language, said Ashley Anderson, Lizzo fan and Western alumna. 

Naked” is a beautiful slow song on the album. “Naked” talks about the vulnerability of being comfortable and naked in front of someone. Being confident and comfortable in your own skin is a challenge at times, so embracing nudity in front of someone else is a big deal when you’re insecure. 

The lyrics read,

“Beauty is a gift but curses everyone that chase it 

I wish we could live without the body expectations 

I seen every part of me and babe I can't erase it”

Despite the haters, Lizzo has a clear message with this album: kill ‘em with kindness, rise up and love yourself. People that bring you down have no place in your life, and we all deserve to feel special, “in case nobody told you.”

“She’s using traditional elements of music and intertwining it with her identity to really make a statement about the world that's important for young girls to look up to,” Anderson said. 

Looking back at the insecure young girl I used to be, struggling to love and accept my body, I know I’m special now. Though I’m responsible for actively loving myself, music helps me. Just how it can help a heartbreak, being in love or grieving a loss. “Special” helps heal my inner child from the inside out. 

You can listen to “Special” here.


Rowan Westwood

Rowan Westwood (she/her) is a campus news reporter for The Front. She is a senior double majoring in Communication studies and Journalism News/Editorial. In her free time she enjoys spending time with friends, consuming poetry, drinking copious amounts of caffeine and listening to sad indie pop. 

You can reach her at rowanwestwood.thefront@gmail.com or @rowestwood on Instagram. 


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