It was May Day afternoon when I clicked play on the movie ‘Someone Great’ on Netflix. It had come out a few days ago, but I’d been waiting for a day exactly like this one to watch it. The night before had been messy— to say the least— and I’d spent way too long at Fever, drinking way too many VKs. Sunlight was streaming through my windows by the time I’d finally climbed into bed after watching the choir at Magdalen Bridge. I needed something light and fluffy to nurse my hangover from the night before, and delay getting out of bed for a few more hours. The film, written by music journalist Jennifer Kaytin Robinson and based on her own experiences, turned out to be just what I needed. Not just because of the story itself, which ended up being much more emotionally poignant than has come to be expected from the average Netflix rom-com, but because of the soundtrack that accompanied it. More specifically, the breakup song Gina Rodriguez and DuWanda Wise passionately rap the lyrics to in the now-viral scene near the beginning of the movie. The song perfectly fit Rodriguez’ characters’ response to the breakup she was going through: it was bitter and angry and the singer was clearly upset, but she also knew her own worth, and there was a humorous touch to the memorable lyrics that allowed for an optimistic, empowering outlook on the situation. It really struck a chord with me, and as soon as I finished the movie, I googled the song: it was ‘Truth Hurts’, by Lizzo, an artist that I’d heard of in passing, but never really taken the time to listen to in too much depth. The rest of the day was spent with the song playing on repeat as I went about my day— I checked my last.fm profile out of curiosity, and discovered that I had in fact listened to it twenty-seven times.
It turns out I wasn’t the only person the song resonated with. Just two weeks later, the song entered the Billboard Hot 100 at number fifty, only to snowball in popularity as the song became a popular Tik Tok meme, received increasing radio play, with a live performance at the 2019 VMAs cementing its current position as the number one song in the US, and the thirtieth most popular in the UK. According to last.fm, I have now listened to the song on Spotify over fifty times (my second most played song of all time), and I’m still not bored of it. When it comes to a song that’s as high energy and emotional as Truth Hurts, without taking itself too seriously, it’s no surprise that it blew up.
Listening back through Lizzo’s catalogue, it sounds like she should have been a hit-making sensation for at least three years. While ‘Good as Hell’, the song that introduced her to the world, is an upbeat anthem celebrating self-love and self-confidence, her talent and charisma is evident from the tracks she started self-releasing back in 2014. Her major-label debut ‘Cuz I Love You’, released earlier this year, is an eclectic collection of genre-bending tunes ranging from the raw and soulful ‘Jerome’ to the early-2000s hip hop infused ‘Tempo’ featuring Missy Elliot to the Aretha Franklin-inspired ‘Heaven Helped Me’, capped off with a flawless flute interlude. The album is an absolute joy to listen to from start to finish. Despite ‘Truth Hurts’ being a completely unexpected hit (it was first released two years ago to very little recognition), however, the song is, in my opinion, Lizzo at her absolute best. While other self-empowerment anthems in the same vein employ tired imagery and clichéd rhyme patterns (if I have to hear one more pop song rhyming “motion” with “ocean” I swear I’m giving up on the genre entirely), Truth Hurts employs details as specific as flirting with someone from the “Minnesota Vikings” while still coming across as relatable. The song, with its sheer energy and intense delivery, continues to captivate me with each and every play.
With the current pop music landscape largely dominated by lowkey, often melancholic trap-infused sounds, the sheer personality Lizzo exudes in her tracks constitutes a welcome breath of fresh air. I for one, can’t wait to see where her career goes next.