“Special” by SZA is a brutally honest song that delves into the struggles of self-love, identity, and unrequited affection. The song encapsulates the emotion and pain of someone trying to change themselves for the love of another, only to ultimately realize the self-destruction this entail. SZA channels that sinking feeling of not being seen, loved, or appreciated for who you truly are.
Kicking off the song with “I wish I was that girl from that Gucci store”, SZA sets the tone for an intense self-comparison game, referencing a stylish, seemingly well-put-together woman she perceives as more desirable. The Gucci store reference is a nod to high fashion and a measure of success, hinting at the pressure to conform to societal standards of beauty and status. While SZA mentions she’s got “pimples where her beauty marks should be”, it’s a stark contrast to the glammed-up idol she compares herself with.
The hook “I wish I was special” is a common sentiment many people harbor, further enforced by societal pressures. This sense of inadequacy backgrounded with the pain of unreciprocated love make it quite a poignant refrain. The line “I gave all my special away to a loser”, it’s SZA laying bare her vulnerability and regret. It’s a reflection of how emotionally draining unrequited love can be.
The lyrics, “I wanted to be thick, now I wanna be thin, Heard Pilates is in”, speak to the ever-changing standards of beauty and SZA’s struggle to keep up. Who hasn’t felt pressure to alter their appearance based on the latest trends?
As the song soldier on, SZA paints a clear picture of her fractured relationship with the line “bash your windows out / You gon’ hear my mouth, you could kick me out”. It’s clear there’s no love lost, but there’s still some residual anger and resentment.
The repeated phrase “Just like you” at the end acts as a bitter realization of SZA becoming something she doesn’t like. It’s her acknowledging she’s lost her sense of self in the process of trying to be someone else for love.
“Special” by SZA, is not just a pop song, it’s a profound critique and exploration of self-identity, self-worth, and the often-destructive influence of societal and personal expectations on these delicate aspects of our lives. It’s a sorrowful, yet empowering musical journey that many can relate to.