Over an irresistible club-ready beat flush with earworm lyrics and a hook that just won’t quit, “Phone” — the first single from Minneapolis rapper/singer Lizzo’s forthcoming EP Coconut Oil — is a welcome distraction to the seriousness of the world that encircles us.
Lizzo eschews the profound for a study in the minutiae of digital connectedness as attached to the frenetic social life of millennials, regaling us with the results of a beast of a night out. With every room-shaking drop, “Phone” revels in self-absorption. (Feet sore from walking home! Dudes with weak game buying ME cheap drinks?!) Lizzo, through a charismatic and coy delivery, wholly and completely commits to the concept, as one no doubt has to do with flavor-of-the-moment, meme-ready tracks.
“Phone” is a fun, quirky, pulsating study in distractionism. It will be impulsively set as the tongue in cheek ringtone by young professionals who have elbowed into gentrified neighborhoods. It will be the joint that makes everyone scream “WOO!” at in the club, drinks in hand, halfway through the DJ’s set. It may even shake a subwoofer or few on the block.
Where the substance exists is in “Phone”’s video. The visuals are minimal, no fancy theatrics. There is, though, a subtle genius in pairing an obvious money grab of a song with visuals that turn the expected on its ear. It’s not just clever bust shots to hide Lizzo’s fullness. There are no waif-thin dancers flouting an unattainable body image to be found. The video, instead, celebrates the beauty of realness — curves, a range of melanin, natural hair, flamboyancy — and does so without using any of the above for a cheap laugh. There’s a pride and self-assuredness to it all that’s compelling. Perhaps it’s here that Lizzo has the most to say, and hints at what she aspires to represent.