It feels like A Long Time since we’ve heard from Lizzo. Like, A Really Long Time. Yet, oddly, it hasn’t been. Her stratospheric third album Cuz I Love You was only released in 2019, but succeeded in pushing her from cult pop artist to bonafide pop star thanks to the rise of singles ‘Juice’ and ‘Good As Hell’.
Perhaps it is the commercial success of the aforementioned tracks that add to the distorted sense of time; ‘Juice’ really was immediately everywhere, while sleeper hit ‘Good As Hell’ originally debuted in 2016 via Lizzo’s Coconut Oil EP, yet saw a new lease of life three years later alongside TikTok slowburn ‘Truth Hurts’. This isn’t to mention the subsequent amount of ads, TV shows and radio play.
It’s heartening that an artist like Lizzo – who has always been so unapologetically herself in both her conduct and her music – has translated so well to such an international mainstream audience. Perhaps it is that unrepentant nature that wider listeners didn’t realise they needed, though it’s been interesting to ponder how Lizzo would engage her purist stans and newfound fans with any new music.
“That Lizzo is so candid in regards to her mental health reassures us that low times are as normal as lighter times”
New single ‘Rumours’ is as good a place as any to start. Capturing the feelgood funk and whip smart sass of ‘Juice’, the track calls out those who dare to opine on what, why and how Lizzo chooses to do anything she does. The opening lines set the tone: “They say I should watch the shit I post, oh goddamn / Say I’m turning big girls into hoes, oh goddamn”, points the finger back at detractors who dare to fat-shame and undermine her body positive activism, reflecting on the fact that the criticism Lizzo may face right now is for the good of cultural change in regards to body image – especially for plus-size Black women. Teaming up with Hustlers co-star Cardi B – who refuses to let pregnancy restrict her own career output – the video is a celebration of women as curvaceous goddesses feeling their own self worth.
Yet it’s clear that – despite the bravado – the self-awareness and external scrutiny that comes with success and celebrity definitely shook Lizzo for a minute as she remarks she “had to cut some hoes loose” who sued her, ended a relationship and “thought [she] would lose it” from “reading shit on the internet”. Whilst her Instagram regularly sees her celebrating her body, there have been times where the artist has questioned her sense of self, especially in regards to the mean things people say about her appearance. That Lizzo is so candid in regards to her mental health only reassures her followers that low times are as normal as lighter times. Perhaps it is this honest and relatable nature that has fuelled her unstoppable trajectory.
Lizzo – ‘Rumours’ feat. Cardi B
Obviously we have to feature the track we’re fussing over! ‘Rumours’ is set to be a quickfire Lizzo classic with its defiant confidence and whip smart quips. A dollop of pop, dash of funk and a generous sprinkle of brass left to brew makes ‘Rumours’ a safe bet to permeate the charts without a fuss. Teaming up with Cardi B for perhaps her cleanest feature to date no doubt seals the deal.
NAO – ‘Wait’
Nao has been teasing her upcoming third album throughout 2021 with ‘Antidote’, ‘Messy Love’ and title-track ‘And Then Life Was Beautiful’, but latest outing ‘Wait’ shows a different side to the Londoner. Piano-led and understated, it is intrinsically intimate, her vulnerability shining through heartfelt lyrics. Her soft vocal yearns for connection and communication; life and love aren’t ever perfect, but in ‘Wait’ Nao is willing to try.
spill tab – ‘INDECISIVE’ feat. Tommy Genesis
spill tab doesn’t seem intent on slowing down anytime soon; she dropped her debut EP OATMILK in late 2020 and has still managed to smash out two singles this year. ‘INDECISIVE’ is her third and marks her first collaboration by bringing Tommy Genesis into the fold. Deploying drum‘n’bass inspired beats for a frenetic energy, the track throbs and glitches under playful vocal melodies. It’s high-octane fun.
Sub Urban and Bella Poarch – ‘INFERNO’
TikTok-star-turned-popstar Bella Poarch may only be two singles into her music career, but she’s making a respectable impact so far. Hot on the heels of her feminist smash ‘Build a Bitch’, she this time teams up with fellow breakthrough talent Sub Urban – who also produced her debut. The track is confidently slinky, underpinned by sludgy bass and decorated with dramatic strings. If a mischievous protagonist were ever in need of a theme song, it would be this.
Temptress – ‘Right Here’
London duo Temptress have dropped a handful of stellar singles this year, and their newest drop ‘Right Here’ may just be their best yet. It is undeniably 90s-inspired with its dreamy R&B production, pulsing bassline and bright strings. Centred around a simple yet contemplative chorus, they’ve said the track captures “an all or nothing moment in a relationship. Where you’ve done everything you can, left all your cards on the table, and it’s up to the other person what happens next”.