Great Albums You May Have Missed: SZA’s “Ctrl” Captures the Feeling of Growing Up

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Lukas Werner

Though it was released in 2017, SZA’s “Ctrl” remains an album worth listening to.

Mia Kritzer, Assistant Editor

New Jersey native R&B songstress SZA, born Solana Rowe, made her 2017 debut album worth the wait with a surreal collection of ballads that recount her experiences navigating the modern world. “Ctrl” offers a personal and candid lense into the complex feelings that come with the excitement of young romance. 

Winning the NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding New Artist,” “Ctrl” also swept the charts, peaking at #3 on the Billboard Hot 200 on June 30th, 2017. 

Since March of 2018, “Ctrl” has been certified platinum, selling over one million units and being streamed over two billion times

An eerie tone is set with the opening track, “Supermodel,” which tells the story of infidelity within a past relationship and the pitfalls of its demise. It is a raw depiction of SZA’s insecurities and questioning of herself, universal themes that can be seen as relatable to many coming-of-age listeners. 

In an interview with Time Magazine, SZA expressed how faith influences her music. “I think faith in something better or more powerful or with more knowledge and with divine order helps me trust the process,” she said. “Even when I don’t trust the process very well — because I’m very skittish — it forces me to trust the process.”

Another track in the album, “Normal Girl,” portrays SZA’s envy of others and her desire to be someone else, and to fit social expectations placed on women in society, which are topics that aren’t often addressed in mainstream music. 

On my favorite track, “Love Galore,” featuring Travis Scott, SZA sings about her resentment towards a figure of her romantic past who comes crawling back, a feeling of being torn between seeking a long-term connection while also desiring the freedom of promiscuity. 

The fifth song, “Prom,” is a reminiscence of teenagehood, a reflection of focusing too much on the present and leaving the future unplanned. SZA recalls her worries about growing apart from her partner during a tender time in her life.

Overall, “Ctrl” serves up a compilation of intense emotions that contradict each other; SZA radiates confidence and spunk in her attitude, yet is emotionally somber and desperate in her pleas to former lovers. 

SZA’s ability to display vulnerability in her music is what makes the album so admirable and worth the listen time and time again. The emotional authenticity of SZA’s words is what makes the album so unique ─ and because of that, my overall rating for this album is 9/10.

“Ctrl” enforces the message that some relationships in life are not meant to last, and that learning to let go of the idea of “forever” is a part of growing up.