Sunday, June 07, 2020

Weekend Diversion: Lizzo

Every once in awhile a pop artist gets my attention, something that’s much more likely when there’s an easy way for that to happen, like the revived music video channel. And that’s how this week’s “Weekend Diversion” came about: I saw a video from someone I’d never heard of before.

The video above is a song called “Juice” by American singer, rapper, songwriter, and flautist (seriously!) Lizzo (real name Melissa Viviane Jefferson ). It wasn’t her music that got my attention at first, but her name: Lizzo is awfully close to “lezzo” a sometime slur that many lesbian I knew had embraced back in my activist days, much as gay men embraced “fag” or, mostly later, “queer”.

As it happens, she’s much more nuanced than any label could allow, having said that binary sexuality is “just not working for me”. However, at least some fans are calling themselves “Lizzbians”, which I personally thought was kind of funny.

That was the route I took to paying attention to her, and I obviously couldn’t help noticing how comfortable she is in her own skin. There’s still a lot of body shaming in the world, but she embraces her body and celebrates it. The song above, “Juice”, is a good example of that.

It was released on January 4, 2019, from her album Cuz I Love You, her third studio album and first major-label release. However, the song wasn’t particularly successful: In Australia it hit 100, Canada 86 (Platinum), New Zealand (not charted), UK 38 (Gold), and USA 82 (Platinum). I just thought it was catchy, and I liked the way the video gently mocked 1980s television.

Next up, another song the video channel was playing at the same time, “Truth Hurts”:

The song was originally released on September 19, 2017, but it took off in 2019 when it became a viral hit. It was included as a bonus track on the deluxe version of her album Cuz I Love You. This song was more successful than “Juice”, getting to 15 in Australia (3x Platinum), Canada was 7 (5x Platinum), New Zealand 5 (Platinum), UK 29 (Gold), and USA 1 (5x Platinum).

One of my favourites of all her videos, also played on that vide channel, is “Good As Hell":

this song also had an earlier release, in this case, on October 7, 2016. It was re-released as a single in 2019, followed by a new video on December 9. The song never charted in 2016, but it did quite well in 2019: Australia 6 (Platinum), Canada 10 (2x Platinum), New Zealand 10 (Platinum), UK 7 (Platinum), USA 3 (2x Platinum). I liked the ong because of its sound, of course, but the lyrics are a sea of positivity about something that isn’t (surviving a relationship break-up), and positive songs always appeal to me. I also like that in the video Lizzo holds a flute, almost as a sly wink.

Finally, “Cuz I Love You”.

The song was originally released on February 14, 2019, and re-released January on 28, 2020. The official music video is above, released last year. There’s a lyric video (below), which is actually pretty good.

I can’t remember hearing the song until I started working on this post, but I like it because of it’s fusion of a big band style and the way it showcase’s Lizzo’s voice, something the other songs don’t do as well: Australia (Not charted), Canada 29 and 44 on radio airplay charts (2x Platinum), New Zealand (Not charted), UK Download Chart 59, USA didn’t hit the Hot 100, but it hit 14 on the “Bubbling Under Hot 100” chart (2x Platinum).

There’s also a YouTube video of her her performing all these songs at the 2020 Brit Awards [WATCH], but I don’t especially like it, mainly because I’m not a huge fan of medleys like that—and because the lyrics were censored. I’m definitely not a big fan of lyrics being censored.

And that’s Lizzo, someone I may never have heard of were in not for the revived music video channel. I’ll continue to make the best of that while I can, but right now it’s time for my hair toss, and to check my nails.


rogerogreen said...

One of the few times I knew about a musician before you. I've seen her on CBS News This Morning, the Daily Show with Trevor Noah, and a few other places.

Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

Speaking of which:


Arthur Schenck (AmeriNZ) said...

It's difficult for me sometimes because I only find out about new artists by accident—like when the revived music video channel shows their video, or maybe YouTube "suggests" it to me. We don't get most American chat shows. On the other hand, I do find out about Australasian artists before Americans do (if they do at all), so that's kind of nice.

An overlap: When I resumed this series, I included Bene's "Supalonely". She recently performed it on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon show, something I only know about because that made our news.

Clearly, it's a struggle.