Ctrl: A Vibe for Today

I wasn’t a big fan of SZA until 2019 really, after I suffered a minor heartbreak and the lyrics of her songs took on new life. The major heartbreak I’m feeing now is adding further depth to the beauty of this album for me. Though targeted at a lover, SZA sings about pining after something that is fundamentally not hers to have, that is neither made for her nor wants her. This translates all too well to trying to find home in the US, this country fundamentally not made for me. We won’t go track for track, but I’m going to call out some favorites.

Supermodel

At its heart this song is about doubting your worth in the face of a lot of negative external stimuli. SZA lets us into her internal monologue in its rawest form, and in it we catch our own cognitive dissonance. We feed ourselves lies around why we don’t care about a rejector’s opinion, but we do, and we’re crushed when some other gets what we’re after.

SZA talking about her philandering lover: They got chemistry bet they f*ing for real.

Entrepreneurs talking about investors: That founder and that investor just hit it off and closed their round

🤔

Weekend

The song is an attempt to make things work despite anger and deep disappointment. You know you’re better than the crappy way you’re being treated, but still are holding on to the scraps you’re being given. And so what do you do? You find a framing for your situation that makes everything feel normal. In SZA’s case, the rationale is ‘I’m just for the weekend’. Possible extensions— They only take me seriously in certain contexts, I’m good for making them laugh, I’m that person they hang with when they need emotional support.

Wavy

Wavy encapsulates that moment when you convince yourself that you have clarity and closure, but you and everyone around you knows you don’t.

The song starts with a vague acknowledgement that something is off (“I got issues out of line”) and ends with a vague solution and gesture at next steps (“You know just taking it slow. Somebody show me the door”)

Fundamental issue identified? Absolutely not. Solution promising? No. But we want to feel better. So we close our eyes and just vibe… and then its all over.

 

A conclusion

The beauty of this album is that it is about control and our lack of it. The lack of control we have when someone else’s appraisal or ill-informed opinion means too much to us. When we live by it.

Problematic, right?

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