SZA is a master of articulating the woes of modern romance through her music.
Her new single “Hit Different” is a testimony to how the beauty of love can outweigh the flaws when the person is worth it. The song follows a cozy, dream-like progression of beats and features Ty Dolla $ign.
The breeziness of the song may seem like it is an easygoing R&B jam, but the lyrics indicate something darker: “I was into you from the beginning even if you wasn’t mine/Scared to admit my shortcomings led to overdraft in this affair, declining.” Losing her way in an unrequited love affair is something SZA knows all too well.
“Leave me lonely for prettier women/You know I need too much attention for shit like that,” she crooned on “Supermodel,” the opener to her stunning debut album “Ctrl,” which hit airwaves back in 2017.
SZA has never been afraid to wear her vulnerability like armor. “I get so lonely, I forget what I’m worth/We get so lonely, we pretend that this works/I’m so ashamed of myself think I need therapy,” she pleads on “Drew Barrymore.”
Her lyrical prowess is immaculate, and she knows how to fully articulate her emotions through songwriting. She has a quirky tone to her voice that makes her lyrics feel deeply personal. Instead of something overly auto-tuned and artificial, listeners can hear the rawness in her voice.
In an interview with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe, SZA spoke about her songwriting process.
“I either write the words first where I write as if I’m sending my last text message to whoever, and it’s like if I had one more opportunity to tell this person to kiss my ass, how would I do it? And then there’s another way that I write where it’s like if I was just flowing and I heard this beat and it wasn’t me, what would I do?”
With this new single, SZA is in full control and has even directed her first music video. The New Jersey singer shines in canary yellow two pieces, oversized tie-dye shirts and baggy jeans.
The video features fresh choreography from SZA and backup dancers in a junkyard. At one point in the video, SZA is lying on the floor and the other dancers seem to walk over her. This makes the message of the song even clearer: when someone has such a hold on you, you’ll allow them to completely step all over you, even if it hurts. “Can’t trust decision when you near me/Get myself caught in your crossfire/You a wild one, and I’m wading in you,” she sings ruefully on the track. SZA and the other dancers also practice the Chinese art of tai chi during the video.
Toward the end, the music in the video simmers down to the outro track “Good Days” and shows SZA sitting on a pommel horse in a russet bikini and short braids. “I still wanna try/I still believe in good days” she sings on the track. This comes at a time when everyone is still trying to grapple with the gruesome reality this year has brought us. Through killer viruses and celebrity deaths, it seems SZA is coming to redeem 2020.
Her music makes me still believe in good days, too.