The Atlantic

The Chart-Topping Artist With a Complicated Empowerment Message

The singer and flutist Lizzo’s new album is as impressive as it is ad-friendly. But navigating both repressive industry standards and commercial co-option is tricky territory.
Source: Emma McIntyre / Getty

The Minneapolis-bred rapper, singer, and flutist Lizzo is proud to do things “Like a Girl.” The breezy empowerment anthem appears on her new album, Cuz I Love You, with a pre-chorus that sounds as though it were written solely to soundtrack the plush pink changing rooms of the Wing: “Sugar, spice, and I’m nice / Show me what you’re made of / Crazy, sexy, cool, baby / With or without makeup.”

“Like a Girl,” like some of Lizzo’s most popular songs to date, is a tad mawkish but nonetheless feel-good. So it’s not wholly surprising that the perennially positive singer sounded a bit defensive about the feminist-adjacent missive during a , when she expounded on its meaning: After being told the track, and its premise, sounded rather commercial, Lizzo quickly justified the song’s concept by”—and broaden them to include previously excluded groups. “I’m trying to be inclusive,” the artist said. “Could this song be in a Dove commercial? Yes, but it won’t. They aren’t thinking about everybody.”

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