Lizzo recently released her major label debut album Cuz I Love You, preceded by the funky, energetic single “Juice.” The song eventually hit No. 1 on Billboard Bubbling Under chart and Lizzo shot to national prominence. Fostered by a string of memorable television appearances and a star-making turn at Coachella, the Minneapolis stalwart is currently enjoying her status as one of the breakout artists of 2019.
While it may seem to some that Lizzo’s “Juice” was squeezed out of nowhere, the 31-year-old singer, songwriter, rapper, flutist and dancer has a deep backlog of tracks dating back to the release of her 2013 debut album (aptly dubbed Lizzobangers), all just as sweet as “Juice” and its rising follow-up “Truth Hurts,” which just became her first entry on the Billboard Hot 100. Whether you’ve been a fan of Lizzo since her earliest jams or only just heard of her, here are some Lizzo deep cuts to bump the next time you’re searching for a playlist refresh.
“Let ‘em Say”
A large part of Lizzo’s lore is that she was a vital member of Minneapolis’ vibrant music scene. That explains her collaboration with another Twin Cities music-maker, Caroline Smith. The two teamed up on the 2016 anthem “Let ‘em Say” which is classic, confident Lizzo, boasting a chorus where she croons, “Let ‘em say what they’re gonna say/ They gonna feel how they gonna feel / But I love it/ I love it, baby/ Hey, you should too.” The song later brought Lizzo an early taste of nationwide fame when the track was featured in the opener of season 3 of Broad City and included in the NBA 2K17 compilation soundtrack. “That’s why I love working with that bad bitch,” Smith later said. “She ramps me up so much and together our productivity is ridiculous.”
Produced by Ricky Reed (he’s the same guy who produced “Juice”) is this 2018 Lizzo track from her debut major label EP of the same name. Kicking off with her famed flute stylings and featuring Lizzo rapping and singing to perfection, it all comes together on bed of a smooth organ. Sure, it’s a love song, but it’s a romantic ode to one’s self, with the song’s thesis proudly announcing: “I thought I needed to run and find someone to love, but all I needed was some coconut oil.” Ah, Lizzo. “It’s a party over here now,” indeed.
Lizzo gets sultry and we’re here for it. “Humanize,” from her 2015 album Big Grrrl Small World, is a jam wherein Lizzo humbly requests to be, well, humanized. Recorded in Fall Creek, Wisconsin at April Base Studios (that’s Justin Vernon’s studio, by the way), the track was helmed by frequent Bon Iver/Francis and the Lights producer BJ Burton. “We’re taught that women are supposed to be insecure, and men are supposed to be machismo,” Lizzo explained of the album. “We’re used to these things, and they’re ingrained in our society. So when somebody says something that’s just a little different than that narrow perspective, it’s just like people’s minds explode.”
Before “Truth Hurts” appeared in Netflix’s Someone Great, Lizzo had a plum placement in another movie. This cover of the 1977 Bee Gees smash (hailing from the soundtrack to the cultural earthquake that was the soundtrack to John Travolta’s Saturday Night Fever) takes on a literal sense, as Lizzo’s revamp was for the 2019 horror flick Happy Death Day 2U. Oddly enough, this literal interpretation of the lyrics is what the Bee Gee brothers had in mind in the first place. According to their biography, The Bee Gees: Tales of the Brothers Gibb, Robin noted: “It’s about survival in the streets of New York, and the lyrics actually say that.”
Just try not to move when spinning this collaboration with the shimmering New Orleans singer Big Freedia, a thumping call to arms that features Lizzo on its powerful chorus concerning the most epic karaoke night there ever was. For Big Freedia, widely known as the Queen of Bounce, recruiting Lizzo for the track from her 2018 EP 3rd Ward Bounce was a no-brainer. “(She’s) a force,” said Freedia. “She’s not the usual sort of artist.” Complementing the song, the video for “Karaoke” has a similar energy, with Freedia noting the entire collaboration was a “career highlight. “Her energy was exactly what I needed to get this track to come to life.”
“Iko” (Radio Edit)
What do you get when you combine Lizzo, the 1965 Dixie Cups classic “Iko Iko,” and thumping beats courtesy the Los Angeles production collective N.A.S.A.? The infectious “Iko,” which takes everything you love about the iconic ’60s track and, thanks to Lizzo’s rhymes and N.A.S.A.’s reworking, makes it all feel fresh and powerful. It’s not an easy feat for a song that begins with the deceptively innocent lyrics, “My grandma and your grandma, sitting by the fire.”
“A Change Is Gonna Come”
Another revamp of a legendary ’60s tune, this cover combines the forces of two modern day soul heroes: Lizzo and Birmingham, Alabama’s St. Paul and the Broken Bones. Originally released by the soul icon Sam Cooke in 1964, the song’s thoughtful lyrics were written by Cooke himself and inspired by a real-life incident when he was reportedly turned away from a ‘whites-only’ hotel. Thus, an anthem for the march to equality was born. A half century later, Lizzo and St. Paul lead singer Paul Janeway’s boisterous vocals brought it to vivid life during a performance during South by Southwest 2014, which Spotify later released.
“Juice” (Breakbot Mix)
Proving that her trademark hit “Juice” is a malleable jam, the French producer and DJ Breakbot put his unique spin on the track making it a worthy addition to any party playlist. Accentuating its disco flavors, the Breakbot version simultaneously strips “Juice” down and spiffs it up by putting a funky bassline centerstage. For Breakbot, who’s largely known for his revamps of European acts, his remix with Lizzo marks a rare collaboration with a Stateside artist.
“The Legend of Lizzo – Jazz Flute Scene”
“Make those cymbals juicy!” Okay, so it’s not a song per se, but it is pretty damn dope. Considering that Lizzo knows her way around a flute, and one of the most infamous flute scenes in all of film comes courtesy the 2004 comedy classic Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy, Lizzo and director Jake Wilson put together this silly homage. It’s a nearly shot-for-shot remake of the memorable Anchorman scene when Will Ferrell’s Ron, in hopes of wooing Veronica Corningstone (Christina Applegate), embarks on an epic flute solo. In Lizzo’s version, she’s naturally busting out a version of “Juice,” and like Ron, she’s invading bathroom stalls and spitting fire (literally) in the interim.