Album Review: SOS


SZA is shown sitting on a white diving board in the midst of a large body of water in the SOS album cover. The cover is inspired by a photo of Princess Diana; SZA said she chose to remake it because she liked the sense of isolation it conveyed. (Top Dawg Entertainment/RCA)

Valerie Nothnagle, Reporter

SZA, a wildly popular R&B singer, released her highly anticipated second album on December 9, 2022, and it has skyrocketed through the ranks of multiple streaming platforms. SOS is composed of 23 emotion-packed songs, 20 of them never being heard before, detailing her feelings of heartbreak, confidence, and self-doubt. 

The response to her sophomore album is impressive to say the least; 20 of the tracks have debuted on Billboard Hot 100, with 2 of them being in the top 10. SOS currently holds the top spot on the Billboard 200 albums chart as well.

The album showcases SZA’s musical versatility. Most of the songs have a smooth, chill feel to them, but some contain elements of rap, like “Smoking on my Ex Pack,” while others have an early 2000s alternative sound, like “F2F.” This wide range of genres provides an interesting listening experience.

Spanning 70 minutes, the first few songs open with her singing about one or multiple exes. SZA’s attitude ranges from a desire for revenge to despair. One of my personal favorites, “Kill Bill,” contrasts a calm, lighthearted beat with slightly dark lyrics, like when she says “I just killed my ex, not the best idea.” Part of the reason why she is so popular is because of her lyricism. Many people, especially teens, relate to the angsty ideas she communicates through her songs.

Although younger audiences might enjoy it, SZA’s lyricism is actually my biggest criticism of this album. They are consistently shallow in meaning and don’t provoke much emotion from the average listener. This lack of depth is seen throughout almost every song, but it is especially present in the sadder, slower songs, like “Nobody Gets Me.” Her lyrics are easy to digest and understand, but that comes with the price of having little artistic value and meaning. 

With that being said, good music does not necessarily need to be crafted with layers of hidden meanings and intellectual intent. The artful production of each song combined with SZA’s angelic vocals makes each track a unique listening experience from the other. SOS has successfully avoided the curse of being too repetitive, a fate that many albums of this size suffer from. However, the same can’t be said when comparing these songs to other mainstream pop and R&B. There are definitely tracks that have made the public fall in love with them, but there really isn’t anything revolutionary about SOS

As a whole, SOS consists of quite generic, yet enjoyable songs. After 5 years of waiting for a new big project, this album definitely meets fans’ expectations. SOS has more stylistic variety than SZA’s first album, Ctrl, which is proof of her development as an artist. If you desire an album of mostly chill, catchy, yet slightly basic songs, give SOS a listen.


Ranking of SOS Tracks

This list is based on originality, creativity, and overall enjoyment of each song.

  1. Gone Girl
  2. Kill Bill
  3. Good Days
  4. Low
  5. Ghost In The Machine ft. Phoebe Bridgers
  6. Shirt
  7. Blind 
  8. I Hate U
  9. F2F
  10. Nobody Gets Me
  11. Seek & Destroy
  12. Love Language
  13. Snooze
  14. Open Arms ft. Travis Scott
  15. SOS
  16. Used ft. Don Toliver
  17. Special
  18. Conceited
  19. Too Late
  20. Notice Me
  21. Smoking on my Ex Pack
  22. Far
  23. Forgiveless