CTRL: SZA Has A Musical Epiphany

Why CTRL was an awakening for many listeners

CTRL Album Cover

Body Image Issues

Body image is an insecurity referenced throughout CTRL. In her eyes, SZA is inferior compared to the other women her love interests seek. She isn’t pretty enough, her body isn’t shapely enough (obviously not true). To counter this, she feels she has to be incessantly complemented and capture a constant stream of attention. This overcompensation is what ultimately strains the relationship.

Leave me lonely for prettier women
You know I need too much attention for shit like that
You know you wrong for shit like that
I could be your supermodel if you believe
If you see it in me, see it in me, see it in me

In “Drew Barrymore”, SZA is spiteful for not being the “ideal” image of women. Often questioning, “Am I warm enough?” This is a reference to both physical beauty and sexual potency. The unapologetic tone of the song leads to the belief that she is not at all regretful of not being able to meet her lovers (or societal) standards. But at the end of the second verse, she acknowledges it’s not entirely her fault. Karma is coming her lovers way, and that they should collect their soul and get right. There is a tonal shift after the song “Prom” — from regretful to more carefree attitude.

Who Runs the World?

Women, of course!

No Love Lost

In “Pretty Little Birds”, SZA describes herself as a phoenix. Phoenix traditionally continue to rise from the ashes after the have passed on. Apply this trait to the artist after the end of a relationship. No matter how harsh the fall from grace in a relationship is, she will continue to rise and begin to fly like the pretty little bird she is. The phoenix is not the only bird she references in this song. Also referenced is the golden goose from the Jack and the Beanstalk fairy tale. She wants to be a valuable portion in a relationship (with the giant), so much so, that strangers (Jack) will seek to partake as well. You could argue that the golden goose, solely, makes the relationship valuable. This highlights the improving self-esteem in the artist.

An emerging writer | Top Writer in Music | Owner of Modern Music Analysis publication: https://medium.com/modern-music-analysis

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store