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Song of the Week: SZA Goes Grunge on “F2F”

Blondshell, The Tubs, and UPSAHL also dropped essential tracks

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sza f2f song of the week
SZA, photo by Jacob Webster

    Song of the Week breaks down and talks about the song we just can’t get out of our head each week. Find these songs and more on our Spotify Top Songs playlist. For our favorite new songs from emerging artists, check out our Spotify New Sounds playlist. This week, SZA turns up the volume for her standout S.O.S cut “F2F.”


    SZA goes grunge” was not a sentence I was ever expecting to write, but when the mastermind singer-songwriter teased her new album S.O.S a couple weeks ago, she mentioned she’d be drawing upon “surf rock and grunge” alongside her usual contemplative R&B sound. With “F2F,” an unexpected highlight on an otherwise immaculate collection of songs, we see what she meant: “F2F” is a pop punk jam through and through, and it’s a satisfying combination of SZA’s bright, silky-smooth voice with a good helping of grit and drop D guitars.

    Like many of the songs on both S.O.S and her previous effort Ctrl“F2F” — which also features a writing credit from Lizzo — is rooted in guitar, a strong choice that frequently allows SZA to mine more intimacy and expressiveness from these songs. Here, she uses a more muscular arrangement to create stronger contrasts. When she lands on “I hate me enough for the two of us” in the chorus, singing almost jubilantly with an anthemic high harmony above her, it’s a jagged line that puts the whole song in perspective.

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    SZA oscillates between longing and dragging herself for longing; she laments the games she plays with her ex, but then still finds room to justify those same games. All the while, she stumbles upon vulnerable truths, eventually asking the central question, “Will you call me?/ Will you hang me out to dry?”

    She finds a fascinating balance between the major key enthusiasm of pop punk and the dejected anger of slacker rock, and it provides a refreshing turn of energy on S.O.S. But “F2F” is also a testament to SZA being able to pick literally any style, any genre, and still make it sound dazzlingly good. It’s not quite accurate to say that SZA is fearless on S.O.S — she frequently spells out her fears, insecurities, and the causes of her anguish throughout all of her discography — but it’s certainly true that she’s getting a lot more confident in making sonic statements like “F2F.”

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    Often, SZA’s impressionistic sound will unite listeners through isolation. You feel her beat changes like intrusive thoughts, and by the time she’s onto the next one, you’re already knee deep in her tangled web of insecurities and relatable truths. But on “F2F,” SZA uses a different tactic and shifts to something more active and anthemic. Her anguish is visceral, the sex at the core of the song is far from romantic, and the emotional turmoil forces her to move outward before inward.

    If she can still create a bafflingly good pop punk song while retaining the essence of what a SZA song can and should be, it points to SZA as being in a truly untouchable position in music right now. In short, no one can do it like SZA. We’re so lucky to have her.

    — Paolo Ragusa
    Editorial Coordinator


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