She is a rapper, singer and dancer. A motivational speaker dedicated to positivity and acceptance. The woman is even a gifted flute player. The body-positive hype queen is Lizzo, and she is trending big time.
Ask people who they’d list as the greatest live performers of all time. You’d probably get answers like Queen, the Rolling Stones and Beyonce. They might even mention Britteny Spears with a giant, yellow python draped around her neck or a host of other people who have transformed music. Each of these musicians remain spectacular in their own right, and the title of one of the greatest live acts of all time can never be taken away from them.
Here in 2019, however, a new blockbuster performer is taking the stage and joining the legendary live performers Hall of Fame. Known for preaching self-love, the 31-year-old musician creates a strange but splendid amalgamation of genre and style with her sound. Earning a place amongst the greats, she is unlike any other artist on the top of the charts today.
Back in April, the singer made headlines with her major label album debut, “Cuz I Love You.” But this was far from her first step into the professional music world. Lizzo has toured with the likes of Florence and the Machine, collaborated with the legendary rapper Missy Elliot and even worked with the late, great Prince on his album “Plectrumelectrum.”
Her EP “Coconut Oil,” featuring hit songs such as “Good as Hell,” reached No. 22 on the R&B Charts. As of early July, “Cuz I Love You” has almost hit gold and the single “Truth Hurts” has already reached No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Lizzo’s music is incredible, but add in her groundbreaking performances and the true magic happens. For example, when the artist took the stage at the MTV Movie and TV Awards earlier this summer, she had the critics and the internet buzzing for days.
The lights went up on a seemingly nervous Lizzo in a gospel choir gown, meekly, but beautifully, singing the lyrics to her iconic single, “Juice.” The camera then panned to a gaggle of more gospel singers and a stage-hand instructing them to remove their robes under Lizzo’s orders.
What followed was a fun-filled, dance extravaganza that brought the entire audience to their feet.
Though the skit was obviously well-choreographed and rehearsed, Lizzo’s performance was far from robotic like so many other award-show performances. She and her team of skilled dancers looked like they were having the time of their lives up on stage. Watching an artist have just as much fun as you are while watching their performance is a rarity, and it is something that Lizzo appears to do every single time.
It’s one thing to dazzle an audience of screaming fans and eager listeners. However, it’s even more exciting to impress an audience of bored celebrities waiting dutifully to clap at the appropriate times. Any regular award show watcher will certainly recall cringing as the camera panned to uncomfortable celeb reactions during live performances.
Well, not this time. As Lizzo performed that night at Barker Hangar in Santa Monica, the elite audience of the biggest names in music clearly realized they were watching something truly special and extraordinary. The cast of “The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” were going nuts, Jaden Smith was mesmerized and she even got Melissa McCarthy and “Handmaid’s Tale” star Elisabeth Moss mouthing a word or two. What’s more, Lizzo invited the entire audience to sing back to her in a Freddie Mercury-esque moment of glory.
Lizzo’s show stopping performances didn’t end there. In late June, Lizzo dominated the stage at the BET Awards with her hit single “Truth Hurts.” The song alone is enough to get even the most boring and uninspired person in the world pumped, but her performance added a whole different level to the self-love anthem.
Standing on top of giant cake in a wedding gown surrounded by the most powerful girl squad the world has ever seen, Lizzo belted out the lyrics to a cheering audience. If that wasn’t enough, the genre-bending artist even took a break from singing to twerk and play the flute at the same time. Honestly, a moment in history.
Twitter and Instagram were flooded with clips of the performance after the award show. It will obviously be something audiences will remember for decades to come. Even Rhianna was shook, and that’s a feat not a lot of fellow musical artists have been able to pull off.
While her music and performances are drawing rave reviews and a growing fanbase, it is her message that is so important and far reaching. Following the awards ceremony, Lizzo took to Twitter to emphasize her declaration and manifesto writing: “There is nothing I would rather see than black girls falling in love with themselves on TV. Big girls — you are always the bride in a marriage of SELF-LOVE!”
Her performance was truly a moment in history, not just because it broke the boundaries of what we expect of a live performance, but because it was one of the first times that a massive number of viewers were given the powerful message that all bodies are beautiful and worthy.
Of course, while it may have been a singular moment for TV, it was not the first time Lizzo used her platform to promote powerful messages on stage. Having an impact is what she does. During a Pride performance last month, Lizzo took the time to remind audiences that black lives and trans lives matter, while her dancers held signs behind her doubling down on that message. She continued by urging her audience to keep the same energy they have during Pride Month all year long, and to always protect and support black, trans and queer lives.
Even more recently, Lizzo took to the stage at Glastonbury music festival and stole the title of most popular performer there. Once again, folks across the internet lost their minds as tens of thousands of posts and likes popped up praising the artist’s stand-out performance.
Clad in the coolest, iridescent purple bodysuit known to humankind, Lizzo threw a party for her enthusiastic audience of thousands — quite a turnaround from her Glastonbury audience of four years ago, which she noted was made up of two people (we can only assume they were still having the time of their lives, though). In 2019, the large crowd was eagerly jumping up and down, screaming her lyrics back to her. Without question, Lizzo left every single person in the crowd and at home happier and more positive than they were before the show.
There is no debate that there is something about live performances that is even more uplifting than hearing your favorite songs through speakers. You get to experience the music you love alongside others who feel the same way, and better yet, with the musicians who created it. Some live acts drag, others are just so-so and some will leave you wishing the concert never ended. And then, every once in a while, an artist arises that is able to truly entertain each and every person in the audience. Lizzo is just such an artist. Thanks to her music, her ability to connect with her audience and her critically important message, Lizzo is quickly becoming one of the greatest live performers of our time.
Message to myself and to all readers, add seeing Lizzo to your bucket list. You deserve it.