Lily Kate Harpham
Solána Imani Rowe, known as Sza, released her first studio album on June 9, 2017. Ctrl, released through the label Top Dawg Entertainment (home to artists such as Kendrick Lamar and Schoolboy Q) earned critical acclaim and debuted at number three on the U.S. Billboard 200. Ranked as the best album of 2017 by Time Magazine, Ctrl was also nominated for four Grammy Awards, which led to Sza earning a nomination for Best New Artist.
With 14 tracks, Ctrl features multiple chart-topping artists including Travis Scott and labelmate Kendrick Lamar. What is notable throughout the entire album is the echoing vocals on every song that give the album an ethereal feeling. Many of Sza’s songs feel confessional, almost like the ranting diary entries of a woman coming into her own.
Opening with the song “Supermodel,” Sza sings about her insecurities and a former boyfriend who left her on Valentine’s Day. The chorus features the line “Leave me lonely for prettier women … you know you wrong for shit like that /I could be your supermodel if you believe … why I can’t stay alone just by myself?” This is a common theme throughout the album: Sza singing about her insecurities and failed relationships. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Sza said that this song is how she revealed to her ex-boyfriend that she slept with his best friend after he dumped her.
The second track on the album is “Love Galore” featuring Travis Scott. Certified 4x Platinum in the United States, “Love Galore” is perhaps the most recognizable Sza song, after “The Weekend.” “Love Galore” is about relationship regrets and yearning for past lovers. “Personally, I’m surprised you called me after the things I said … Acting like we wasn’t more than a summer fling / I said farewell, you took it well (true) / Promise I won’t cry over spilled milk.” Sza and Travis Scott sing to each other about the loss of a relationship, no matter how fleeting the relationship was, because it was good. In an interview with Genius about “Love Galore,” Sza said she was a Scorpio with a mean streak, and this song is incredibly reflective of that and her anger towards former partners.
Described by Rolling Stone as a “side-chick manifesto,” “The Weekend” is a song of not two, but three women all being juggled by the same man, and one woman decides that she simply doesn’t care. “You say you got a girl / Yeah, how you want me? / How you want me when you got a girl?” “The Weekend” is an anthem intended to empower women to “opt out” of the idea that men must be the center of a woman’s life.
Following the much-anticipated release of “Hit Different” featuring The Neptunes, Pharrell Williams and Ty Dolla $ign, I revisited Ctrl and was immediately thrown back to 2017— a much simpler time. That is just the beauty of Sza’s music: no matter when you are listening to it, it resonates with some aspect of your own life experience.