S.O.S--SZA Seeks Help With a New Album
By Brooklyn Toney--Eagle Staff Writer
Almost five years after releasing her album CTRL, SZA recently released her highly anticipated sophomore album S.O.S. on December 9, 2022. The album got over 400 million streams within the first week of release.
The album has a total of 23 songs, including four singles that were released prior to the album, one being Shirt which was leaked on the social media platform TikTok. S.O.S is a mashup of pop, R&B, and hip-hop.
The album begins with the self-titled track "S.O.S.." The track opens with the angelic tone of trumpets which the singer sampled from Gabriel Hardeman Delegation’s, Until I Found the Lord. SZA spoke her mind and sang, “I cried, and cried/ Said what’s on my mind.” The singer correlates with Beyonce’s lyrics in "Listen" from the motion picture Dreamgirls. Beyonce chanted, “I’ve tried, and tried to say what’s on my mind.”
In S.O.S., SZA goes through a string of emotions. She explores sadness while explaining failed romance, something she carries over into the song "Blind". In "Blind," the singer mentions actress Julia Stiles, who starred in the film, Save the Last Dance. She sings, “I ain’t no Julia Stiles, this ain’t no last dance, way past it.” The artist speaks on the topic of breaking away from the thought of needing male validation and learning how to accept one's self. Then she switches from sad to upbeat early 2000s pop rock with "F2F." It's clear that SZA is experimenting with genres outside of her usual R&B, including references to popular artists like Avril Lavigne.
SZA fans were ecstatic about the artist's collaboration with Indie artist Phoebe Bridgers on "Ghost in the Machine." According to her interview with Hot 97, when asked about the unique sound of the song the artist said,” It’s gonna sound how people think it’s gonna sound. It’s super alternative and strange.” The song matches the fan aesthetics of the two artists.
One’s journey to self-realization is one of the main themes of S.O.S.. In "Gone Girl," SZA is evolving from the CTRL era SZA and has come to the realization that she is not the same person she was in 2017. The artist sings, “Trying to find deeper meaning in nonsense, trying to grow without hating the process,” she continues to sing, “ She's gone, gone girl, gone girl, you better learn how to face it.”
The song "Open Arms" opens with the artist's late grandma, Norma Rowe, voice with which some fans may be familiar from CTRL. "Open Arms" is the fifth collaboration between SZA and Travis Scott, and when asked to do the song Scott did not disappoint.
The song is about being devoted to a person who accepts you for who you are even if they try to push you away. The artist explains her constant battle with facing her insecurities. Scott expresses his affection for the person he loves. The track concludes with the ethereal sound of West African spirituals.
"Good Days" is a song that is not new to fans. The song was released in September of 2020 in the midst of the pandemic. In the song, the artist talks about the thought of becoming her own person and hints at what will become the later-released S.O.S. album. The artist tries to find light even in her darkest moments singing, “Still wanna try, still believe in (good days, good days on my mind), Good days (good days on my mind.)”
S.O.S. is a great album by SZA. After years of waiting, this album was well worth it. It was an album that took a few listens to get comfortable with but is in no way similar to CTRL. S.O.S. is SZA's experimental album, but it is well-produced and tells a meaningful story. I can’t wait to see what more is to come from this artist.