Listen to three surprise new songs from SZA: Nightbird, I Hate You and Joni
Uploaded onto an anonymous Soundcloud account, fans think the three "random thoughts" - as she called them - comes with a tease of her next album.
Everybody knows that SZA's next album - the long-awaited follow-up to her 2017 breakthrough Ctrl - is one of 2021's most anticipated records. It's also one becoming just as infamously delayed as its predecessor too; the album - currently untitled, with no announced release date - seemingly being on the backburner amongst a battle between SZA and her label, according to often-deleted tweets from the singer across the last few months.
Nevertheless, the slight teases of new SZA we've heard all point that Ctrl's follow-up is going to be just as impressive. Last year, she teamed up with Pharrell Williams and Ty Dolla $ign for Hit Different, a song believed to be the first taste of the TDE musician's second full-length album. Then, on Christmas Day last year, she then shared Good Days, a swelling favourite that became a late entrant to one of the year's best singles. So far, the only work we've heard from SZA this year are collaborations; one with Doja Cat - Kiss Me More - and one with SAINt JHN for the Space Jam: A New Legacy soundtrack).
That is, until now. Overnight, SZA seemingly uploaded three surprise tracks to an anonymous Soundcloud account, which she then posted onto Twitter with the caption "dumping random thoughts", hinting that the songs are just throwaway ideas rather than a taste of her next album. Regardless, the three songs do show where SZA is taking her new material: Nightbird, I Hate You and Joni joining the leagues of Hit Different and Good Days as tastes of how SZA is continuing to evolve her sound in the years following Ctrl.
Nightbird has a slight psychedelic-like production, with hazy guitars and washed out percussion moving amongst a more upbeat vocal when placed comparatively with much of SZA's past work. I Hate You is a more subtle and seemingly 90s-indebted take on SZA's sound, with a crunching production swaying amongst SZA's vocal. The third song - Joni - is stripped back and acoustic, featuring SZA singing some remarkably inaudible lyrics amongst a lone guitar and rich piano chords, before rounding out about a minute-and-a-half later.
The next taste of SZA's actual album, however, is seemingly Shirt - a long-requested song that featured at the end of Good Days' music video, and was performed by SZA at a virtual concert earlier in the year. "She nex," SZA responded to a fan asking about the song earlier in the day.
Fans have also pointed out the numbering pattern of the three songs: Nightbird prefixed with a 12, I Hate You having a 9 before it, and Joni being 21. Together, the numbers seemingly spell out a date - 12/09/21 (September 12th or December 9th depending on which date system you use, but considering SZA is in the US, we're going with December 9th). Could it be the day SZA's second album comes out? Or is it all a ruse?
Who knows. But in the meantime, you can take a listen to the three new "random thoughts" below: