SZA Review: SOS

A long five years after Ctrl– SZA’s debut album – she’s come back onto the music scene as of Dec. 9, 2022 with her sophomore album: SOS. SZA, born as Solana Rowe, is no stranger to accolades being that her debut album has stayed in the Billboard top 200 for all five years since it came out, but her new 23 track project is breaking records left and right while also being received well by the general public. Will this album be another timeless classic that never seems to lose its initial hold? Let’s take a deep dive into this work, analyzing some of the standout tracks. 


SOS – Opening the album, “SOS” is heard morse code. Shortly after the beat sets in, SZA takes this introduction track as an opportunity to set the record straight about how all of her work is her own and at the end of the day she wants that credit. Her confident and threatening tone makes listeners think that maybe she’s not the one who needs saving and instead it’s the people who go against her and disrespect her artistry.


Kill Bill – Referencing the Quentin Tarantino films, SZA created a hyperbolic hit about violent fantasies towards an ex-lover and their new partner. In the viral chorus she confesses her dark thoughts towards these two people over a lovely melody. This is the most popular song on the album so far with its own movie-inspired music video and Tiktok success.


Seek & Destroy – The mid-tempo track with a hint of strategic autotune tells the story of an unbalanced relationship where she feels like she has no power and decides to fully blow this connection to pieces so she can save herself.


Low – This bass-heavy track is a perfect culmination of expert production and vocal ability. This has been the go-to song off the album for hip hop dancers to choreograph to because of its exciting beat.


Love Language – This laid back track allows SZA to express her frustration towards a person who doesn’t seem to let her into their emotional side. Having to work for this connection adds value to this person in her eyes. This song is also special because of the sampling of “Hit Different,” SZA’s own track with Ty Dolla Sign, at the end, along with the beautiful string arrangement.


Blind – Teased at the end of the “Shirt” music video, the song can already be recited by the masses, but is still loved the same. In the introspective track, SZA admits she purposefully ignores some of the toxic traits in herself and in others so she can be loved in the end. It’s so embarrassing, All of the love I seek living inside of me, I can’t see, I’m blind”


Snooze – Although not featured, R&B sensation, Babyface, and Victorious cast member Leon Thomas III had a hand in writing and producing this smooth love song. SZA expresses her deep feelings for her lover and says “I can’t lose when I’m with you.”


Gone Girl – Referencing the psychological thriller by the same name, SZA paints a picture of a relationship similar to the one in the movie where neither person is happy and the man isn’t truthful, but the woman will stay as long as she feels she has control. When that feeling leaves, so does she.


Ghost in the Machine (feat. Phoebe Bridgers) – Rowe and Bridgers work together seamlessly on this eerie track about the lack of humanity as technology increases. 


“The song title is very fitting because the song has a haunting feel. Both AirPods in, maxed out, makes you feel like you are inside the actual machine,” stated Blackman Senior and aspiring music artist Marcus Johnson. 


F2F – This punk pop track has been the butt of many jokes and classified as the only “skip” because of it being an outlier from the other sultry tracks, but genre bending is just part of SZA’s exploration of her sound on this album. The lyrics reflect a time where she is compensating for a person she misses by spending time with another man.


Special – This intimate track shows the audience how SZA compares herself to others and changes herself according to what a partner wants. She sings, “ I used to be special, But you made me hate me, Regret that I changed me, I hate that you made me just like you.”


Open Arms (feat. Travis Scott) – The storytelling is the true star of this song. Rowe explains a situation where she was in a rough place, and only one person who had “open arms” for her. She decided to return the favor even though this person did not treat her right or value her. Scott jumps in to play the role of the love interest, who is fully focused on staying with each other no matter what.  SZA then realizes at the end that she needs to leave the situation, and she is the only person who will be able to save herself. 


Good Days- This single came out on Christmas of 2020 and is a relaxing, stream of consciousness type of song concerning the troubles of the world and trying to stay peaceful while bad things are happening. 


This body of work has shown SZA’s growth in many ways including lyricism, production quality, and attention to detail. It seems like all those years went to good use. 


When asked if the five years paid off, Johnson said, “It definitely was worth the wait. You can feel the time and effort she put into this in every song. The years of anticipation also added to the experience.”


But there’s more to come! SZA will be hitting the road to go on tour with Omar Apollo in late February and has already confirmed a deluxe version of the album. It looks like this album will be around for a long time, and it doesn’t seem like anyone’s complaining.