"If I'm shinin', everybody gonna shine"
I’m not a Lizzo fan.
For starters I’m too white, too male, too middle aged, too cis to appreciate Lizzo on absolutely every level that she deserves to be appreciated on. I am not part of her ‘intended audience’. However, the fact that when I saw the broadcast of her recent appearance at the Glastonbury Festival, her undeniable brilliance as a performer absolutely leapt off the screen, despite the fact we were playing it at low volume so not to disturb our slumbering daughter.
Lizzo is a performer that manages to connect with women of every age, size, race and sexual orientation, as well as both the wider BAME and LGBT communities, and Cuz I Love You is a potent album packed full of anthemic tracks that speak to every corner of her audience, and even manages to nail the cross over as top-draw modern pop tunes that this 40 year old white cis male can’t help but appreciate, despite his usual musical focus being white blokes with guitars.
Tunes like “Juice” and “Boys” (not on the original release, but now available on a deluxe version of Cuz I Love You contain barely any lyrical content that I can directly relate to, but each are undeniably brilliant pop songs that deserve to be heard by the widest audience possible. Many of the songs on Cuz I Love You are full blooded sweary empowerment anthems of pure pop filfth, and while few of them are intended to empower me or blokes like me, they are absolutely vital and necessary in the current social and political climate, which is one of the reasons it has been so heartening to see Cuz I Love You connect with such a large and diverse audience since its release. Besides, the vast majority of rock music down the decades solely empowers white cis males, so hey, we’re pretty much covered and have nothing much to complain about, and if there’s one thing that we need less than yet another bunch of white boys with guitars, its white cis males moaning about how they no longer feel represented in music / life in general.
Outside of the staggeringly brilliant accessible tunes already mentioned, Lizzo goes out of her way to confirm her abilities as a soul voice of no small ability. From the opening wail of the title track, to the slow burn of “Jerome”, “Lingerie” and beyond, there’s more than enough evidence here to suggest that should Lizzo ever decide to make an album that is a straight-up tribute to the soul legends of the 60s and 70s, she has all the talent and then some to be able to make it a massive success. Sure some fans of old school soul may be put off by Lizzo’s straight-up sweariness and use of sexual innuendo throughout Cuz I Love You, but really, it’s all part of the package that makes Lizzo so brilliant, as she utilises it all to maximum positive effect and at no point does it water down her talent. Take a song like “Tempo”. If you remove the filth, you remove the point of the song. As it is, it’s a pop tune that is destined to become a modern classic that should cement Lizzo’s position of one of our contemporary pop icons.
Cuz I Love You is everything a modern album should be, from the striking, and surely soon to be iconic, artwork, to the fact that even the deluxe edition clocks in at under 45 minutes, so it never outstays its welcome, to the fact that it manages to be diverse enough to legitimately be a modern soul, contemporary R&B and pop rap album all in one. If there is one thing that I can be critical about when it comes to Cuz I Love You (other than the fact that Lizzo is not covering the Slade classic), it’s that the transition from the end of the originally released album (“Lingerie”) to the bonus material (“Boys”) is so abrupt and jarring, and could have done with a simple five seconds of silence between them. And that’s it. Lizzo has released an album of a genre of music that on paper I have no interest in, and it’s bloody brilliant.
As for Lizzo herself, she potentially has a hell of a career in front of her. She has a killer combination of lyrical talent, looks, voice and compelling stage presence, hell, she’s probably the most iconic flute player in popular music since Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull (and, it should be said, is infinitely more attractive). On top of it all, as her recent Tiny Desk Concert proved beyond a shadow of a doubt, she knows how to tailor her performance to ensure maximum connection with her audience, be it an intimate gathering of a few dozen, or the massive live audience at Glastonbury. If she can keep releasing albums of the quality of Cuz I Love You, then Lizzo has everything she needs to become one of the most successful performers on the global stage. I may not be her intended audience, but I can’t help the feeling that following Lizzo’s career is going to be a hell of a lot of fun.
She may not have intended it, but I’m a Lizzo fan.