Lizzo celebrated the release of her fourth studio album Special with an exclusive iHeartRadio Album Release Party, with an emphasis on the "party." The unforgettable night was hosted by KIIS-FM's Jojo Wright from the iHeartRadio Theater in Los Angeles on Thursday, July 14th. Not only did fans get to see Lizzo perform some of her biggest hits, but they were also treated to a revealing Q&A with the star. In addition, Lizzo sat down with JoJo and the audience to listen to several songs from the album before they were officially released on Friday, July 15th.
To start out the night, the singer performed some of her biggest hits, which she called "Lizzo Classics" including "About Damn Time," (the newest addition to the canon) "Good as Hell," "Juice," and "Truth Hurts." Lizzo then told the audience to make some noise for Crystal Williams and Asia Banks, two of her backup dancers from her Amazon Prime reality competition show Watch Out for the Big Grrls, which just received several Emmy nominations.
JoJo returned to the stage to have a chat with Lizzo about the three-year-long process of making Special, asking why it took this long. "Because I needed to live my life!" Lizzo answered honestly. "That's what people love about my music. It's autobiographical and it's honest and it's true to my life. I was like, I can't just rush into this next project without living life and having those experiences to be able to share these stories through song."
When writing the album Lizzo started out with around 200 songs and had to narrow it down to 12, but assured fans they would eventually hear some of her favorites that were cut. She then went on to reveal how the album takes a radical, all-encompassing approach to love that's different from her previous albums. "I think it's the kind of love i'm writing about, cause all of my albums have been about love in some capacity," she said. "I feel like Cuz I Love You (2019) was in the pursuit of love. I wrote so many [songs] crying in the studio and I was like "This is the person I want to be next year." I wrote "Truth Hurts" crying and I was like I need to get past this. I want to love myself. I want to love myself and Special is like 'B---h, I love myself!'"
When asked to describe the album in one word, Lizzo replied confidently replied, "There's no one word but I keep calling Special a no-skips classic album." Based off the catchy melodies and Lizzo's profound meaning behind every track, I have a feeling everyone will agree.
From here, Lizzo and JoJo listened through 10 of the 12 tracks on the album and gave fans some truly intimate backstories to help fans better appreciate the songs:
Track 1: The Sign
"From the first line of this song it's gonna let you know where I've been," revealed Lizzo. "I thought it was a great way to set the tone for this album because people are gonna be like "Lizzo, it's been three years." Okay, so let me tell you what the f--k I've been up to and let me tell you how I've been. It's like you called me and I'm like "Hi, motherf---er!" I love this song so much."
Track 3: Grrls
"I'm just so proud of this song, it's a Beastie Boys sample. This song is based on a true story." Lizzo then went on to tell the story of having to fight a girl who stole her phone at the club, which is what her 2016 song "Phone" is about. She continued, "So this song is kind of an ode to that fighting spirit. I feel like old school fans are really gonna appreciate it."
Track 4: 2 Be Loved
"This song is a dream for me because I got to work with the legendary Max Martin. I've always been like what would a Max Martin/Lizzo song even sound like?" she said, and luckily we got to find out. "I met him in the studio and I was like, "Let me let this legend cook. Let me watch him cook." He really pushed me in the best way and I pushed myself as a songwriter and as a vocal performer and I'm so proud of this song. I feel like it's an actual masterpiece! It's part two to "Cuz I Love You," really."
Track 5: I Love You Bitch
When asked what the song was about Lizzo joked, "I wrote it about you, JoJo. You and that little ponytail," referencing the host's choice of hairstyle for the night. "This song is so funny. It came from Cardi B, so me and Cardi B dropped "Rumors" and after we dropped it, she was like, "I want a love song from Lizzo next." And I was like if I wrote a love song I would be like what? "I love you, b---h." This song is about everybody in my life. I wanted to write a universal love song...This is truly one of the most universal love songs of all time. I'm gonna say it right now: the greatest love song of all time! You better play this for your mee-maw," she laughed.
Track 7: Break Up Twice
"First off, shout out to Mark Ronson, who produced this. I mean, talk about another legendary person," Lizzo said. "This came to me so easily because I had a barbecue at my house and I brought somebody. A romantic interest and my friends... One of my friends had my back and she was like "If you hurt my friend I'm gonna slash your motherf---in tires!" And I thought that's the purest form of love! If you don't got a friend that will slash an ex's tires for you, do you have friends?" Lizzo laughed before continuing, "More than that, this song is about the faith that I had in us, in my relationship with this person. In love! But I'm not gonna do it more than once, b--h!"
Track 8: Everybody's Gay
This track was introduced with some major hype from JoJo. "If I had to describe it... a little bit of Rick James, a little bit of Prince. Maybe some Diana Ross with a whole lot of Lizzo," JoJo said excitedly. Lizzo went on to explain the meaning behind the song: "'Everybody's Gay' was just me and my musician friends nerding out. I wanted to write a song that was a fantasy. I wanted to write a song about going out to a costume party and in your costume, you get to take your mask off. That mask of the person that's protecting our true selves. That mask that the real you is hiding behind. You can take it off because everybody's welcome here! You are accepted as you are. This is the come-as-you-are record."
Track 9: Naked
"Anybody who has seen my on social media has seen my a--," Lizzo said. "You all watch me discover the power in owning my beauty, fully clothed, or in the nude, in a big very public open way and it has brought me to this place of so much inner confidence and strength and self-love and I'm very proud of it." She continued by explaining how that relates to the song, "But now, when I sit this a-- on you, can you embrace it? This song is for all of my exhibitionists and my future exhibitionists. I invite you to put on a silk robe, some silky panties... Pour yourself a glass of wine and do yourself a favor to this song right here."
Track 10: Birthday Girl
"I'm so excited about this one lowkey. Because highkey I was like "I don't know if I should do a birthday song." We got Stevie Wonder. We got 50 Cent! But when I was writing this song, I freestyled "Is it your birthday girl? Cause you lookin' like a present." And it turned into something so much bigger because I am a birthday b----! Like, I love celebrating birthdays. Mostly, I love celebrating other people's birthdays. So this is a birthday song and a love letter to all of my friends that we celebrate our birthdays every year in the biggest and best way. Because when you been through the most, you gotta do the most. You feel me?"
Track 11: If You Love Me
Lizzo introduced this one by just singing the chorus. "Oh this little track right here?" she laughed. It was "the first song I wrote for this album. It's a beautiful love song. I get on stage at my shows and I tell people in my audience, I say "Thank you so much for supporting me financially, emotionally, physically you're standing here supporting me. Thank you! I am a fat, black woman from Houston, Texas. I wasn't taught that I would make it this far. And through your support I have and I wanna say thank you. And most importantly, when you see somebody who looks like me, keep that same energy! Because fat, black women in society and culture have not been treated with respect. The respect we deserve." And so i try to pay it forward every night on stage...cause if you love me, you love all of me. All of my sisters. All of my big girls. So this song is basically a love letter to the world.
Track 12: Coldplay
"So there was a big mystery around this on the internet," Lizzo explained. "Mostly when people saw the tracklisting they were like, "Coldplay?" It's like always question mark, exclamation point. They don't know what the f---k 'bout to happen. Basically, who didn't grow up listening to Coldplay? Incredible band, a huge influence on my life. One day I was in the studio. I was in with Ricky Reed, who is my longtime collaborator, and I was sitting in the booth with him and he just played this piano loop. I had just gone on a trip to Tulum with somebody and I was like I'm gonna sit on this bench and I'm just gonna talk about it.
She went on, "And I talked. No melody, no rhythm, no freestyling on this piano loop and I told this 45-minute story. It's a deeply personal song I'm sharing. I mean, all my songs are f----n personal but this is vulnerable cause I don't talk about people that I like that often. This song is about that moment we were sitting on the roof and I was looking at the stars and I was singing "Yellow" by Coldplay and I was crying because life is so beautiful and love is waiting for you when you're ready for it. And I guess I'm ready."
To close out the night, Lizzo performed the titular track from the album, "Special." And if she hadn't made enough impassioned and relevant statements throughout the album release party, she managed to cover everything in this final speech:
"If nobody told you this today, you are special. I love you. You're beautiful. I'm proud of you. It was a lot that we just went through and we're currently going through. This is difficult. It's not easy to see trauma every single day on your phones, on your screens, in the news, in your families, friends. We've all experienced this collective pain, fear, and what I was put on this Earth to do is to convert that fear into love. Love. It's hard, it's not that simple. We do have to fight for it. This is revolutionary self-love, radical self-love. This ain't "mimosas and spa time." No, b---h, this is fighting for your rights. That is self-love. There are so many specific things I could talk about but y'all know what the f---k I'm talking about. Everyone in this room has felt an attack on their individual human right at some point in the last three years or longer and you know what I mean. Self-love is not a trend. It is a radical act of revolution and I wanna let you know, I love you."
Lizzo's fourth full-length album Special is out now. Listen here!