Tuesday, January 25th, 2022

SZA – I Hate U

Read 25/1/22


Andrew Karpan: To reach today’s zoomers, SZA has compressed her mission statement into the form of a question, followed by its only possible answer, a sort of mailably melodramatic performance that can be twisted and turned around. Like Prince records — an influence SZA consistently nods at without slavishly reinterpreting — this is the kind of R&B showmanship that nobody can learn anything from because it’s all tone and style, which she can convincingly vamp with ease. 

Alfred Soto: I imagined Jazmine Sullivan singing this — no difficulty. Her producers would eschew the way the arrangement insists on irony: background vocals pitched at a different key, the enthusiastic “fuck you!” response. SZA can of course sell sincerity too, hence my suspicion that the neither-here-nor-there performance is for a demo sold as a finished track.

Oliver Maier: So half-hearted and obviously beneath SZA’s calibre as both a lyricist and writer of melodies that I’m not entirely convinced someone at TDE didn’t just dust off the Ctrl USB stick and upload whichever demo sounded the most like TikTok catnip.

Katherine St Asaph: The beat uses a lagoon’s worth of reverb to sound more sumptuous than it otherwise would. And I mean, the trick usually works. The track just ends up a little muddled, as does a lyric that doesn’t seem sure whether it’s angry or sad.

Al Varela: During the holidays, my dad and I were watching a video from Rick Beato where he listened to the Top 10 on Spotify, and my dad laughed when he read out loud the title of this song. I guess I never really thought about how strange it is for a popular song to be called “I Hate U” until then. The content is certainly as venomous and spiteful as the title was. Describing all the ways this ex sucked, not letting anything back, and disillusioning him of any chance that they will get back together. I think the production is what I love most about this song though because it’s a song that sounds hateful and fed up. Sluggish, but keeping a murky, bassy tempo where every other bar feels like a stomach drop. The synth that carries the melody is just flighty enough to show some playfulness, but the texture is still rough and bitter. SZA plays along with this beat so perfectly too, that even a song this ugly and unpleasant can still sound gorgeous. 

Nortey Dowuona: If anyone wanted to know if I like this too… I doooooo.

Tobi Tella: Nowhere near the deepest thing she’s ever written, but may be up there for the catchiest. If I was grading on a scale of how much I relate to the toxicity exhibited or the intensity with which I sing “Fuck youuuu,” this would be a [10].

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Reader average: [6] (1 vote)

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