There’s something ‘Special’ about Lizzo


Lizzo dazzles a crowd with her incredible vocals and powerful musical message in London in 2019 (Raph_ph/Wikimedia commons)

Zoe Leone, Associate Arts & Life Editor

February started with the arrival of a new superhero: Lizzo. Everyone’s favorite bop star (a title of her own making) released a music video for the titular track of her latest album, “Special,” on Feb. 1.

The video was directed by Christian Breslauer, who’s known for his cinematic collaborations with major industry names, such as SZA and The Weeknd. Lizzo and Breslauer previously collaborated on her “2 Be Loved (Am I Ready)” video, which was a follow-up to her iconic “Truth Hurts” video.

“Special,” however, as the title suggests, was a special project for Lizzo. The artist explained in an Instagram post that after thanking fans for their support and encouraging them to keep the “same energy” when they encounter people that look like her in everyday life on her tour, she wanted to provide representation that everyone could benefit from.

“This video is for any one who has felt unseen, alone, disrespected,” Lizzo wrote. “I see you.”

The “Special” video features Lizzo as a waitress who is actually the caped crusader that has been saving her city. While she’s initially met by pushback in both her personal and masked life, her rescues of a young girl from a car accident and a family from a fire turn the rest of the citizens in her favor.

Seeing Lizzo as a superhero is not an unfamiliar concept for many of her fans. As a bigger girl myself, listening to “Juice” for the first time in 2019 was the first time I had ever seen a celebrity who even remotely looked like me be something other than the comedic relief or the face of a weight-loss program. Lizzo was big and beautiful and talented and above all else, she was proud.

I didn’t need to see a cape to recognize Lizzo as a hero. As her career progressed and her fame grew, the comments made about her body and what she chose to wear on it only increased tenfold. Whether it was an uproar about her decision to go on a smoothie cleanse or posting pictures in a bikini, everyone seemed to have something to say about her.

To me, the only thing I could ever think of was admiration. With the release of “Special,” and the song it’s named after, that love for Lizzo only grew as it formed a new bond: one between me and my mother.

There is just about no one in the world who loves Lizzo more than my mom does. From the minute she heard “Truth Hurts,” she was completely hooked. When her latest album came out, we listened to it together everywhere.

“Special” was initially a song I overlooked on the album in favor of some of the more upbeat, tongue-in-cheek songs that Lizzo is most known for, but it was an instant favorite of my mom’s. Once I took the time to really listen to it, I understood why.

The song’s lyrics center around Lizzo’s own experiences as a plus-size Black woman and how she wants her listeners to know that even if the world doesn’t see them, she thinks everyone is special. Paired with a mellow pop beat and full sound, “Special” is a song that’s just as important to Lizzo as it is to her fans.

“I’ve always wanted to make my momma proud. Today was her first time hearing my new music. She told me she has ALWAYS been proud of me. She always made me feel special,” Lizzo wrote in a TikTok post to her account in late January 2022. “In case nobody told you yet… you’re special. Keep going. I’m proud of you.”

Whenever my mom and I listen to the song, we send each other a picture of the song’s title. As the first woman to make me feel like I was special, much before Lizzo ever did, it’s beautiful to see how our bond has only strengthened through her music.

That’s the power of Lizzo. No matter your age, your size, or your race, she has a unique ability to connect with people from all walks of life. There’s a confidence that grows just from listening to her songs, but also to the messages she infuses in each of them.

So the next time you’re having a rough go of things, crank your volume and throw on “Special.” It might just save your day.