We’re just hours away from S.O.S, the long-awaited sophomore album from SZA. After the TDE singer revealed the LP’s artwork earlier this week, some eagle-eyed fans spotted similarities between it and one very memorable photo of Princess Diana.
The cover art for S.O.S features a photo of SZA sitting at the edge of what appears to be a diving board off a boat, with the surrounding water taking up the entire background of the shot. The inspiration photo in question is of Diana in a similar pose, aboard the Jonikal Yacht while on a summer trip in Portofino, Italy. That photo was taken in 1997, the same year the Princess of Wales tragically died at age 36.
“Originally I was supposed to be on top of a shipping barge, but in the references that I pulled for that, I pulled the Diana reference,” SZA explained during a chat with HOT 97. “I just loved how isolated she felt and that’s what I wanted to convey the most.” While Diana’s sporting a one-piece swimsuit in her photo, SZA puts a personal twist on it with a personalized jersey and Timberland boots.
SZA may not be part of the royal family, but she can somewhat relate to Diana’s experience being scrutinized under the public eye: “I like to create, I like to write, I like to sing, and I like to share,” the musician shared in a profile with Billboard. “But I don’t know if chasing after superstardom or whatever I’m supposed to be doing right now is sustainable for me or for anybody. I’mma take a good swing at it, and I’mma give ’em my absolute best.”
It’s no secret that Diana’s later years were filled with family conflict, and some goings-on in SZA’s own family also played a role in delaying her follow-up to 2017’s Ctrl. She told Billboard that she struggled to meet album rollout commitments while she was also taking care of her grandmother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s: “I have an album to turn in at the end of the month, but will that actually matter by the time I get back to New Jersey and my grandma doesn’t remember me? I don’t know,” she said.
SZA knows that it can get lonely at the top, whether you’re born into nobility or climbed your own way up to pop royalty status. See the S.O.S cover art and the photo of Princess Diana that inspired it below.
SZA confirms theory that Princess Diana inspired her ‘SOS’ album cover. pic.twitter.com/61biLn7JXmAdvertisement
— Pop Base (@PopBase) December 7, 2022