SZA's 'SOS' is a huge success, but why does it hit different? The experts explain

A unique melodic approach to the different stages of healing
SZA Photo credit Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images

It's no secret that SZA is not one who likes to be easily defined or shoved into one box, and her recent album, SOS, is a perfect example of her not being one-dimensional. With the soaring success of SOS since its release, she is showing the world it's okay to defy the norm.

LISTEN NOW: Switched On Pop: SZA's Endless Melody

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But what is it about SZA’s album that is unlike any other project? What makes it hit different?

Musical experts Charlie Harding and Nate Sloan from Switched on Pop break down the musical inconsistencies and rhythmic displacements that make SOS unlike any other.

The opening song on the album, “SOS” begins with morse code possibly symbolizing a sign of distress and from this point on you can understand that SZA will be taking fans on a “psychological journey.”

Harding and Sloan identified the consistent themes of danger, healing and anxiety throughout the album which happens to have been the only thing SZA remained consistent on.

With lyrics like “feeling lost but I like it,” in the song “Shirt” this project is the embodiment of going through a storm but finding the rainbow on the other side of it.

SZA described this album as “bizarre acts of self-embarrassment,” but in all actuality, it’s a unique melodic approach to the different stages of healing.

Something else that makes this project so interesting and abnormal is the inconsistency of genres. You hear a mix of Hip Hop in songs like “Low” and “Smoking on My Ex-Pack,” Indie Rock/ Punk in “Ghost in the Machine” and “F2F,” all of which were very unexpected from her.

Throughout the tracklist SZA does a lot of rhythmic displacement, which is simply “taking a little idea and placing it on a different rhythm each time to keep you guessing.”

Her endless melodies keep fans on their toes and guessing what is to come next.

Listen to the full episode of Switched On Pop above -- now streaming on Audacy -- a podcast all about the making and meaning of popular music. Musicologist Nate Sloan & songwriter Charlie Harding pull back the curtain on how pop hits work magic on our ears & our culture.

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Featured Image Photo Credit: Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images