Review: SZA releases new album ‘SOS’ to mixed opinions


Riley McConnell

Popular artist SZA’s new album ‘SOS’ engages listeners. The album released on Dec. 9. “Everyone was excited about the album,” said junior Riley McConnell. “SZA is loved by so many people, so this album was exciting to a lot of people.”

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Track 1 “SOS”

Juliana: 4/10

The song starts with what sounds like fireworks going off, then transitions straight into a ‘Tyler the Creator” beat. She starts singing and venting while talking. I would listen to this if I’m trying to get into my feelings or trying to get hyped. Other than that, I feel that she has better songs later in the album, and she shouldn’t have started with something as aggressive and talkative.

Track 2 “Kill Bill”

Juliana: 9/10

The beat starts the song with SZA singing about her ex-boyfriend. The beat makes sense as most of her lyrics are her ideas of killing her ex-boyfriend and his new lover. It doesn’t look like there are any regrets if she did, because she “does not fear hell.” However, instead of rapping like most of the album, she uses her angelic singing voice to express her feelings. This song would be on repeat while my phone is on Do Not Disturb.

Track 3 “Seek & Destroy”

Kevin: 8/10

On my first listen to this album, this song didn’t stand out to me as anything special, but on my second listen-through, I was pulled in by the simple but infectious chorus. Once I was drawn in by the chorus, SZA’s use of metaphors to explain her feelings really made it an even more enjoyable experience. 

Track 4 “Low”

Riley: 6/10

The anthem begins with a thrilling intro, transitioning into an upbeat hip-hop-style pre-chorus. The song is all about a secret relationship that she wants to remain a secret. To perpetuate her persona, which she has held over the years, SZA continues to reiterate the needed confidentiality between her and this individual. The second verse dives deeper into the artist’s anger and frustration by describing her side after what seemed like a falling out between the two. The artist’s anger is captured through the lyrics and fast beat as the song continues.

Track 5 “Love Language”

Mithra: 10/10

A slow and intimate song, “Love Language” is a romantic and beautifully sung song that encapsulates emotion, love, and passion in three short minutes. This is one of my favorite songs on the album and is exactly what I was looking for from SZA in this release. One of my favorite aspects of slow songs like this one is the versatility of its use; I can listen to it in the car, in the shower, as background music in my room, or sing it with my friends. 

Track 6 “Blind”

Gianna: 9/10

“Blind” was the third and final single released off of “SOS,” and was teased at the end of the “Shirt” music video. “Blind” highlights the idea that SZA is blind to the red flags her partner gives off. Lyrically, I feel like this song was the strongest single on the album. I love the soft guitar and orchestral elements included on the track; they really add to the feel of the message she is singing about. Not to diminish the song’s worth at all, but this song is easy to fall asleep to.

Track 7 “Used (feat. Don Toliver)”

Mithra: 9/10

Possibly biased from Don Toliver, I think this is one of the best songs on the album. The way these singers’ voices complement each other is breathtaking and leaves me wanting more collaborations between these two. They both offer passionate and emotional vocals in their performances and did not disappoint in this song. Singing about how being used is a familiar feeling to SZA and Toliver — and this is a duo that I did not know I needed in my life. 

Track 8 “Snooze”

Gianna: 9/10

“Snooze” was, and still is, in my top five songs from this album. It’s similar in terms of lyrics to “Blind,” and it’s about how being in love is so obsessive but captivating and fun. The simple drum set instrumental mixed with other musical elements made it so simple and good. The chorus is easily one of the most addictive choruses from this entire album, and this song highlights her talented vocals so well.

Track 9 “Notice Me”

Kevin: 4/10

This song was good, but overall forgettable. Nothing about this song really stood out to me, and it makes the album feel bloated and drawn out. The song has very basic pop-like production which is present throughout the album, but SZA’s lyricism and vocals fail to make up for the lack of interesting production on this track.

Track 10 “Gone Girl”

Gianna: 9/10

At first, I didn’t love “Gone Girl,” but this track has become a fan favorite between my friends and me furthermore. With lyrics highlighting her confession of being too obsessive, and her conflicts with self-worth and love, she ultimately decides to leave and choose herself. The lyrics are easily relatable, and personally, I’ve been in situations before where I have had to choose between myself and someone else. With these relatable lyrics, it easily became an anthem for me. This smooth R&B soul song is perfect for anyone who needs a base-level song to get into SZA’s music.

Track 11 “Smoking on my Ex Pack”

Juliana: 8/10

It begins with an amazing fast beat and SZA rapping immediately. She uses her rap to visualize what she did for past ex-boyfriends, and it was relatable. She continues her rap with her exes trying to come back and how she is living her life without him. The upbeat anthem flows with her lyrics very cohesively.  I would listen to this on repeat whenever I’m upset, and I want to relate to the negative truths about past relationships. It feels like she’s releasing all the built-up anger that we’ve all had. 

Track 12 “Ghost in Machine (feat. Phoebe Bridgers)”

Kevin: 8/10

In one of the most lyrically interesting songs on the album, SZA shares her opinions and critiques on society and the music industry as she “craves humanity.” The calming atmosphere created by the instrumental and SZA’s soft vocals establish the perfect background for the subject matter of the song. Initially, the Phoebe Bridgers feature felt unnecessary, almost as if she cut off SZA’s song, but after a couple of listens, the feature adds a nice break to the song.

Track 13 “F2F”

Kevin: 6/10

This song is SZA’s take on a modern pop-rock anthem. And while the song does serve as a good example of SZA’s artistic range, unfortunately for me personally, the song came across as immature and underdeveloped. The chorus felt quite basic compared to other songs on the album but the song did have good moments that made it more enjoyable I most likely would not add this song to my playlist.

Track 14 “Nobody Gets Me”

Riley: 8/10

Growing extreme popularity on social media such as TikTok, the song’s lyrics and melody are relatable and captivating for listeners. The slow-rising intro brings in the listener’s curiosity and keeps them listening through the whole song. The artist’s vulnerability regarding the lack of an individual in her life and longing for them, intrigues listeners such as myself, providing some collectiveness between her and her audience. SZA captured so much emotion in the simple lines of this song, which is how she captured as much attention as displayed across all social media platforms.

Track 15 “Conceited”

Mithra: 5/10

A more upbeat addition to this album, “Conceited” contrasts the emotional side of SZA. While her voice is beautiful in any setting, this wasn’t my favorite song of hers, being too pop-like for me. My favorite types of SZA songs are the ones that are emotional, dark, and passionate and this one doesn’t really provide that for me.

Track 16 “Special”

Gianna: 10/10 

“Special” is my favorite track off of this album, and ultimately one of my favorite tracks from SZA in general. The lyrics simply paint the picture that her personality was taken away by someone who didn’t deserve it. She changed her personality for someone else, ultimately leaving her basic and not like the girl she used to be. I’m a sucker for simple, somber ballads, so this easily became my favorite from the first stream.

Track 17 “Too Late”

Mithra: 8/10

A relatable and emotional song, SZA uses this track to express the danger and desire in revisiting an old relationship. She talks about her want to be loved and questions if it is too late. This is something that almost everyone I know has experienced and can relate to, romantically or not. The melody and instrumentation of the song is catchy and enjoyable, making it one I would add to my playlist. 

Track 18 “Far”

Riley: 4/10

Intro filled with wave sounds, SZA invites her listeners in with a vulnerable voice recording of a conversation she had with a peer. The line is edited to sound muted as though to match the theme and title of the song – “Far.” The quick transition into the first verse provides an upbeat, hip-hop theme to the song. The chorus is very repetitive, broken up with different verses. While the topic is intriguing, I feel that SZA would have captured the truth behind her words a lot better if variations were made.

Track 19 “Shirt”

Kevin: 7/10

After initially being teased at the end of the “Good Days” music video almost 2 years ago, “Shirt” was finally released as a single about a month before the whole album dropped. I really love the beat of this song. SZA’s lyrics and vocals flow effortlessly over this track. I think the song worked better as a single, because the instrumental doesn’t really flow with the vibe established by the rest of the album. 

Track 20 “Open Arms (feat. Travis Scott)”

Juliana: 10/10

The intro is an audio recording of an older woman, spreading her commentary of ‘doing your best.’ SZA starts singing angelically, just like in all her past music, with a soft beat behind her lyrics while describing her devotion to having ‘open arms’ to her significant other. Travis Scott did amazing with his feature, he mixed his rap whilst singing. The lyrics worked so perfectly and both artists were so in sync while making the song. Definitely a song that I would listen to when I need that virtual hug from someone. Her voice and lyrics give love through headphones. 

Track 21 “I Hate U”

Mithra: 7/10

With a dark and enchanting tune, this song is perfect for anyone who has recently been through heartbreak. Released in December 2021, most SZA listeners are already familiar with this song, making it nothing particularly special on this album. Similarly to many other songs, “I Hate U” has gained massive attention from social media and while still a great song, I can hardly listen to it without thinking of Tik Tok. I love that you can feel the heartbreak through her voice and I think this is a beautifully written and sung song. 

Track 22 “Good Days”

Riley: 8/10

Previously released in December 2020, the new rendition of SZA’s popular “Good Days” seems to not have gained as much attention as it did in the past. The uplifting beat is extremely similar to the original, only changing minuscule details that most did not notice. With the re-release roughly two years later, SZA reminds listeners of the upbeat, stylistic tune that brought the artist so much attention in years past. Singing about her regrets in past relationships, SZA shares her dreams and aspirations for her future, where she will prioritize herself. Overall, this song is amazing and I predict it will be popular amongst our generation for years to come.

Track 23 “Forgiveless (feat. Ol’ Dirty Bastard)”

Juliana: 8/10

From Wu-Tang, artist Ol’ Dirty Bastard starts the song with a soundbite of him rapping. SZA sings about how she wants her ‘lick’ back and wants to become herself again, after being played by her past relationship. She does not care about what he does now, singing about how she did him a favor by dating him. It’s confusing why she featured Ol’ Dirty Bastard for the beginning and ending clips, which threw off the song. However, she had highlighted lyrics within the song and would roll my car windows down and blast the song.