The expectations weren't high; they were stupendous...
SZA burst onto the music scene with her major label debut album, Ctrl, in 2017. The album received universal critical acclaim from music critics, peaked at #30 on the ARIA Albums Chart, and earned her five Grammy award nominations in 2018 (Best New Artist, Best R&B Performance, Best R&B Song for Supermodel, Best Urban Contemporary Album, and Best Rap/Sung Performance for Love Galore ft. Travis Scott).
Also in 2018, SZA collaborated with Kendrick Lamar on All The Stars from the Black Panther soundtrack, which saw the duo nominated for Golden Globe and Academy Awards for Best Original Song; she also worked with Maroon 5 and Cardi B.
Then, we didn't hear a song with SZA on lead vocals until September 2020, when she returned with Hit Different ft. Ty Dolla Sign and produced by The Neptunes. A few months later, on Christmas Day, she released Good Days which peaked at #7 in Australia.
SZA made waves again with the Grammy award-winning Kiss Me More, where she featured alongside Doja Cat. The single was a massive hit in Australia and hit #2 on the ARIA Singles Chart. She then commemorated five years of Ctrl in June last year, releasing a deluxe edition of the album that included five additional tracks.
By this point, fans began to wonder if the acclaimed R&B artist would release her second album. There had been speculation, leaked singles, teased snippets, and a performance of new songs, Shirt and Blind, on Saturday Night Live before SZA announced her highly-anticipated second album, SOS, would come out on 9 December 2022. The expectations weren't high; they were stupendous.
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SOS doesn't disappoint. If you look at charts and sales alone, her second album is blowing up. SZA tops the ARIA Singles Chart (with Kill Bill) and sits at #2 on the album chart. In the US, Canada, New Zealand, and Norway, SOS is #1 (also, in the US, the album tops the R&B and hip-hop charts). Billboard reports that in the first week of sales, SOS sold 318,000 equivalent album units in the United States alone.
SOS contains 23 essential, great tracks and features from Phoebe Bridgers, Travis Scott, Don Toliver, and the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard.
Kill Bill is the first ever #1 single for the US artist in Australia, surpassing her #2 peaks as a guest on both All the Stars (26 February 2018) with Kendrick Lamar and Kiss Me More with Doja Cat.
Pitchfork dubbed SOS 'Best New Music' and described SZA's songwriting prowess like so: "[SZA has] mastered the art of the inner monologue, transforming deeply personal observations into gilded songs that feel intimate, relatable, and untouchable, all at once."
Triple j commented, "Her songs can initially present as vibey mood-setters but after multiple spins, her intoxicating singing slowly transforms unexpected melodies and phrasing into hooks as addictive as any pop hit." Meanwhile, The Guardian quipped, "She is a fabulous vocalist, powerful but unshowy, capable of shifting seamlessly into what the Grammy awards call melodic rap."
SZA's brand of R&B couldn't be more engaging for fans of all types of music - there's hip-hop, alternative rock, pop, jazz, and gospel showing up in all 23 tracks on SOS. SZA has proved that with her second album, she is a voice for this generation and certainly no one-album wonder.