SZA’s New Album: SOS


After much anticipation, SZA finally released her second studio album, “SOS,” on December 9, 2022. The album features 23 songs, mainly R&B with dips in other genres as well.

It has been five years since she released her first studio album, Crtl, which reached the top of the charts. As a result, there was understandably a lot of pressure on SZA. However, SZA did not disappoint (as she never does).

The album cover depicts SZA sitting on the edge of a diving board, while the rest of the background is just water. It is inspired by an identical photo of Princess Diana. The picture conveys the emotion of isolation, which speaks volumes about what the album is going to be like.

The image of Princess Diana that inspired SZA’s “SOS” album cover

Each one of these songs tells a story with lyrics that many can relate to. This album’s overall theme is finding her way through her past relationships, heartbreak, and love that caused her more harm than good. Generally, the album seems to portray her anger or unhappiness; there is no one emotion to describe the album. The emotions of the songs are mixed because they show Sza’s growth as a person. Throughout the album, as the songs go on, she becomes more mature and confident as a person. When taking the time to understand the lyrics of each song and how they connect, there is an underlying theme of her healing herself through all the pain. She finds herself in this album, which makes the meaning behind each song especially beautiful.

Her talents as an artist are also amazingly displayed in “SOS”. From the impassioned and clever lyrics to the outstanding vocals to how she uses her inspiration from other artists to create unique songs, It is no surprise that she has already reached the top of the charts.

Her songs portray feelings that I would have never been able to describe. Even though these songs are about her own stories and life experiences, I feel as if I can relate an experience of my own to each song. It is the different feelings that each song provokes that make me think of a time in my life when I felt the same way, and with that, these songs provide a sense of comfort and validation.

When listening to this, I realized how much variety she has with each song. There were genres that I had never seen her do before. It was clear that she is exploring her style, and I was amazed by how well she was able to pull each genre off so well.
With that being said, here is my review of each song:

This song has a very urgent feel to it, short (1:57) but powerful. I can hear the anger and frustration in her voice. A perfect opener that sets the tone for the rest of the album. Through this song, Sza is telling us how she feels, she mentions time lost in breakups. Everything in this prepares you perfectly for the rest of the album.

Kill Bill
With the title of this song relating to the movie Kill Bill, many of the lyrics relate to the movie as well. It has a creepy, psychotic feel as SZA portrays the “psycho ex”. This song is about jealousy and not wanting to see her ex happy without her and with another girl. This “psycho ex” is very similar to the main character of Kill Bill, which is why this was a smart comparison. This is one of the album’s most popular songs, owing to its memorable and catchy lyrics.

Seek & Destroy
This song describes how all that she’s been through is resulting in her acting out unapologetically.

This song has a faster, almost trap beat and is essentially a rap song. Travis Scott is heard in the background vocals, which pull it together as this does seem like a beat he would rap on, however SZA’s vocals sound amazing on it. This song is about how her past relationships have led her to abandon searching for love and only focus on the physical side of relationships. Overall, this song has an empowering energy to it and is confidence-boosting.

Love Language
Influenced by Aalyiah’s 1999 single, “I Don’t Wanna,” with samples and lyrical influences, this song is about needing better communication with her partner and feeling a rough spot in their relationship. The outro is a part of an older song from her last album, “Crtl”, “Hit Different”.

Starting the song with her rapping on top of an acoustic guitar and violin, she sings about how she feels as if she needs validation from men but is embarrassed that she does. She is blind to the fact that everything she needs is within her and that she doesn’t need validation. This song is especially touching as realizing you don’t need validation is a step toward self-growth. It is also relatable to the many people who don’t realize they don’t need validation from others.

This song has a faster tempo than the last. With a feature by Don Toliver, this song is about how she has been used all the time to the point where she is used to it. Overall, this song has a very good flow between Don Toliver and SZA, and the lyrics convey a lot of emotion.

This song is on a slow hip-hop beat and expresses her love for her partner, who is a day one and makes her feel safe. She sings about how she feels as if she is not getting the same type of love she is receiving. The chorus also has vocal effects on it, which make it sound very interesting. In general, this song has a chill vibe to it, but when listening to the lyrics, a completely different emotion is evoked.

Notice Me
This has more of an upbeat vibe than the last song in the album. It is about how she doesn’t want to be in a committed relationship and would rather just have something casual. She tried being his girlfriend, but it didn’t work out, so she is content to be his girl, his person. This song is catchy and something that would get stuck in my head.

Gone Girl
A much sadder song, this is about how past relationships have caused her to be a “gone girl,” a girl who has dealt with so much that she is now broken. What her current partner must do is learn how to face it, how to handle her issues created by past relationships and experiences, and how to care for her and these problems instead.

Smoking on my Ex Pack
This song is very short, just like the first song. In this song, SZA has an amazing flow as she raps the single verse in the song. The song is about moving on from an ex and moving on with her life. Because of this, the lyrics are empowering, as she focuses on herself and doesn’t worry about her exes. It also evokes a feeling of closure because it is about how she is done with that part of her life.

Ghost in the Machine
The much-anticipated feature of Phoebe Bridgers lived up to the hype. The vocals of the two amazing artists with the instrumental are such a perfect mix, it feels angelic. Phoebe Bridgers’ indie voice was such a cool feature for this song, it wouldn’t work with many of her other songs on this album, but it worked very well here. The transition from Phoebe Bridger’s verse going into the pre-chorus with SZA’s voice is also amazing and just seamless. This song is about her longing for humanity, for feeling something, for feeling human again. In the midst of all this darkness, she seeks a distraction, a temporary lover, and this is not a healthy distraction.

This was the only punk rock song on the album that featured rock electric guitar and was a pleasant surprise in the album. It was the first time I had heard a song like this from her, but she certainly did it well. The song is about missing her ex, but it’s also just a catchy song to listen to.

Nobody Gets Me
A teaser for this song was released before the album came out. It is about her failed engagement with her ex-fiance and how she feels as if he is the only one who truly understands her. It is a slow, sad song.

This song has a theme of independence and is therefore empowering. After everything she’s been through, as shown in previous songs on the album, this song is about her just being herself and not needing to be validated by anyone else.

This song is about her insecurities and a story of the expectations she tries to meet for a man, she compares herself to the girl he likes. However, after she grew as a person, she hated that she tried to change for him. There is a strong message here for all women and anyone who can relate.

Too Late
This song is a contrast from the past couple of songs as it is much more upbeat. This is a very catchy song about returning to a previous relationship and wanting to make it work again.

With a theme of rejection, this song is about all the rejection she goes through and how it has caused her to lose her confidence. A story about how she has had enough of being used and feeling rejected, all of this has made her feel burned out. There is an underlying lesson in this song to accept rejection and not let it define you. I feel as if this song fits this album very well in general and is an important song, as it is one of the beginning stages of her healing process.

When I first listened to this song, I knew it sounded familiar. Then I realized a snippet of this song was released in 2020 and blew up on Tik Tok in 2020. The actual meaning of the song is known and not easily identifiable, however some fans say there are biblical undertones to the song as she sings about sin. This song reminds me of the “2020 quarantine” era of Tik Tok. It was also teased at the end of the music video of “Good Days” in 2021.

Open Arms
This song, featuring Travis Scott, has crazy, amazing vocals and a great flow from Travis. The intro consists of an emotional recording of SZA’s grandmother. This song is about being in love and devoted to a person who accepts you for you but has to let them go in the end.

I Hate U
After a snippet of this song that was released in 2021 blew up, this song was finally featured in “SOS”. It is about getting over an ex and thinking about everything he did that made her come to the conclusion that she hates him

Good Days
This song is part of her other album, “CTRL,” but is featured as track 22 on “SOS”. It is a calming, positive song and is one of her most popular songs. It is about looking forward to the good days in the future and moving away from the negativity of the past. The fact that this song is featured in this album ties the ending theme of growth and closure. To me, this song brings me peace and is a comfort song—truly one of my favorites.

With the intro and outro being samples from “Dirty Ol’ Bastard,” the song already starts out as fierce. The previous songs in the album describe all that she has been through, which has led us to this last song. This song is like the release of her emotions, a “forgiveness” release of emotions. In this song, she doesn’t let people walk around her and won’t forget the wrongdoings people have done to her. The album has been a journey of her growing into the person portrayed in this song. It is a perfect ending to all the songs in the album and, more importantly, the story the songs piece together.