Song of the Day #5,290: ‘Gone Girl’ – SZA

Guest blogger Daniel continues his countdown of the year’s top albums…

Best Albums of 2022 – #3
SOS – SZA

I felt about this album a lot how I felt about Kendrick’s project. They both have such an inimitable style and output where everyone’s expectations are so high that even when they’re performing at such an elevated level you still want more!

However, much like Kendrick’s album I loved how SZA broadened her range in what she was willing to tackle. While Kendrick’s journey was mostly emotional, SZA’s was far more sonic. With “Ctrl”, SZA’s debut studio album she essentially cemented herself as the new defining voice of R&B.

I could speak ad nauseam about the excitement that I feel when listening to relatively new genres like Rap and R&B as we have been existing in the time period most ripe for trailblazers to shape the evolution of these genres for years to come. SZA is one of these trailblazers who revitalized R&B in the mainstream opening the door for H.E.R, Giveon, Daniel Caesar and any other chart climbing artist following in her footsteps. So, more than most other artists she has the right to flex as much as she wants.

Boy does she on this sophomore effort. Rather than rest on her laurels, she not only defies, expands, and reinvigorates the R&B genre on this album, but begins her takeover of other genres too. ‘F2F’ encapsulates this takeover better than any other track. Here the verses offer borderline country melodies while the choruses are undeniably hard rock with distorted guitars blaring underneath SZA’s bold lyrics.

If you’re going to release a 23-track album these are the kind of unexpected surprises necessary to keep the listener on the edge of their seat. Luckily, the listener can stay there for the next track where she again flaunts her versatility. ‘Nobody Gets Me’ is the meeting ground for flawless R&B runs that only SZA can execute and a soaring pop hook that would make any adversary on the Billboard charts envious.

It feels appropriate to place this album right above Drake’s most recent release as SZA essentially places herself above Drake level status with the album’s titular opener. She borrows the same sample as Drake’s album opener from last year’s ‘Champagne Poetry’ off Certified Lover Boy. I wonder if Gabriel Hardeman Jr. could have known back in 1976 just how many artists he’d inspire with his soaring gospel track ‘Until I Found the Lord (My Soul Couldn’t Rest).’

It seems a rather fitting tribute to the Gospel genre which has influenced both Rap and R&B for years with oft shared chord progressions, allusions to the Gospel scale in vocal lines, and lyrical themes of finding strength and solace in God’s plan.

Here SZA makes it clear that she’s back and better than ever. She puts it succinctly in a couple of the more Instagram caption worthy lines: “Punk ass tried to replace me, but the stakes is too high, They can’t survive off mini-mes, I’m talking pedigree, Ain’t no writers, that’s just me”. SZA, like Drake, is in the much desired position to flex like this and actually have the muscle. It’s easy for fans to point to countless examples just on this album where she distinguishes herself from others.

Vocally, on a track like ‘Open Arms,’ she showcases her ridiculous range hitting high falsetto notes with ease then dipping into her mellifluous lower range. For my money, she can hold her own against Adele and Beyoncé in a conversation for best female vocalist.

Lyrically, one needs look no further than the second verse of today’s SOTD to see how effortlessly she captures complex ideas while still owning the pocket. “I decide what demons I digest, Almost tired of repeating, I digress, Trying to find deeper meaning in nonsense, Trying to grow without hating the process”. How many of us have shared these same feelings? SZA might be on a level above us all, but she still manages to be so relatable and real.

Kendrick’s widely recognized as the King of Rap. It’s time to give SZA her rightful space on the throne as the Queen of R&B.

[Verse 1]
Split mind, don’t need to decide when
Straightforward, eyes on the climb when
I decide no matter the climate
Birthin’ bitches in my third trimester
Shift eyes, they tell me you lyin’
Don’t care, just lay here beside me
Hang time chasin’ the rewind
Hang time

[Pre-Chorus]
I need more space and security (Security)
I need less voices, just you and me (Just you and me)
I need your touch, not your scrutiny (Scrutiny)
Squeezin’ too tight, boy, you’re losin’ me
Boy, you’re losin’

[Chorus]
Gone, gonе, girl, gone, girl
You better lеarn how to face it
She’s gone, gone, girl, so gone, girl
Never replace her
She’s gone, gone, girl, gone, girl
You better learn how to face it
She’s gone, gone, girl, so gone, girl

[Verse 2]
Can’t think, it’s too hard to process
Get around you and I regress
I decide what demons I digest
Almost tired of repeatin’, I digress
Tryna find deeper meanin’ in nonsense
Tryna grow without hatin’ the process
Tired of anticipatin’ the worst yet
Still anticipatin’ the worst (Worst)

[Pre-Chorus]
I need more space and security (Security)
I need less voices, just you and me (You and me)
I need your touch, not your scrutiny (Scrutiny)
Squeezin’ too tight, boy, you’re losin’ me
Boy, you’re losin’

[Chorus]
Gone, gone, girl, gone, girl
You better learn how to face it
She’s gone, gone, girl, so gone, girl
Never replace her
She’s gone, gone, girl, gone, girl
You better learn how to face it
She’s gone, gone, girl, so gone, girl

[Bridge]
Inward I go when there’s no one around me
And memories drown me, the further I go
And ain’t nobody talkin’ ’bout the damage, pretendin’ like it’s all okay
I tried to erase, I live to escape

[Chorus]
Gone, gone, girl, gone, girl
You better learn how to face it
She’s gone, gone, girl, so gone, girl
She’s gone, gone, girl, gone, girl
You better learn how to face it
She’s gone, gone, girl, so gone, girl

4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #5,290: ‘Gone Girl’ – SZA

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    Well, I guess I should not have fast forwarded past her recent performances on SNL! Another album I need to add to the queue.

  2. Amy says:

    I like today’s SOTD a lot. A 23 song album is quite a commitment, but I’d love a few more recommendations of your favorite SZA songs to add to a playlist alongside some other R&B artists you mention above with whom I’m equally unfamiliar. Appreciating the education in current musical artists I’m getting during these two weeks with you as guest blogger.

  3. Peg says:

    Nice voice. Curious as to how her name is pronounced ?

  4. Maddie says:

    Such a great album to drop in this latter part of the year!

    I hardly registered the 23 song length as I listened through the first time. Must be something with the variation in song length as well as the versatility you mentioned in your review.

    Either way – this was a nice example of my high SZA expectations being met/exceeded. Happy to have so many great new songs to add to the rotation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.