‘SOS’ showcases a wide range of styles and themes


Top Dawg Entertainment/RCA Records

SZA’s second studio album “SOS” is an interesting yet cohesive combination of genres and ideas.

Chloe Alexander, Assistant Editor

“Last night, I cried/Give me a second, give me a minute/Nah, lil’ b- – – -, can’t let you finish/Yeah, that’s right, I need commissions on mine/All that sauce you got from me/All that s- – – I gave for free/ I want it back, want it back,” exclaims SZA in the opening song and title track, “SOS,” of her second studio album by the same name. “SOS” was released Dec. 9 following the releases of three singles “Good Days,” “I Hate U” and “Shirt” and the release of the deluxe version of  her second album ‘“Ctrl” in June 2022.  

“SOS” is a diverse collection of musical genres and collaborations that explores who SZA is as an artist. Contrasting her previous projects which solidified her presence in the R&B scene, “SOS” exhibits a broader range of SZA’s talent and artistry. 

Although the album contains a wide variety of genres, each song flows well. SZA’s genre expansion demonstrates her wide range as an artist from the guitar ballad “Nobody Gets Me,” where she belts out “How I’m supposed to let you go?/Only like myself when I’m with you/Nobody gets me, you do/you do” to “Smoking on my Ex Pack,” a full rap track. On the hard-hitting song SZA raps “Them hoe accusations weak/Them b- – – – accusations true.” These two songs are a small glimpse of SZA’s breakout from R&B while marking new territory in other genres such as rap. 

SZA also features an unexpected range of collaborators on “SOS” that work well together. The unlikely pairing of alternative singer Phoebe Bridgers and SZA comes together in a R&B, folk-pop mix “Ghost in the Machine.” It features an orchestral accompaniment while maintaining the haunting sound that’s found in Phoebe Bridgers’s music. “Open Arms” featuring Travis Scott delivers a heart-wrenching love ballad from SZA and a smooth rap delivery mixed with vocals from Travis Scott. SZA also collaborates with Don Toliver on “Used” and Lizzo — who’s uncredited — on “F2F.” 

SZA also pays homage to music from the past in “SOS.” “Gone Girl” features a ’70s and ’80s R&B-style piano and drum accompaniment. The song also references Daryl Hall and John Oates’s 1973 song “She’s Gone” with the lines “Gone, gone girl, Gone girl/you bеtter learn how to face it.” “Forgiveless” samples lyrics from Ol’ Dirty Bastard’s “The Stomp” and Björk’s “Hidden Place.” “F2F” is reminiscent of a Y2K pop-rock anthem along the lines of Avril Lavigne.

SZA strays from her usual R&B and sometimes experimental sound to make a collection of hip-hop, alternative, love ballad, pop-rock and more. With notable collaborators SZA successfully breaks out of her shell. “SOS” truly gives a little bit of everything in the best way.