New Englanders Respond to Lizzo’s ‘GRRRLS’ Lyrics Controversy
Editor's note: This article was written by a Townsquare Media Northern New England contributor and may contain the individual's views, opinions or personal experiences.
Lizzo was berated for a word she used in her new song "GRRRLS"
It was later on last night when word started making the round that Lizzo was taking a verbal beating on social media after the release of her new song, "GRRRLS." The song, which was supposed to serve as an anthem of sorts for best female friends getting each others' backs in a fight or altercation, instead became a lesson on the importance of understanding how slang terms can differ between countries.
The "GRRRLS" lyric in question
Within the first 30 seconds of "GRRRLS," Lizzo sings, "Hold my bag, b****/Hold my bag/Do you see this s***?/I'ma spaz/I'm about to knock somebody out."
To Lizzo fans in America, we probably wouldn't even bat an eyelash and consider any of that derogatory or "ableist speech," which is what Lizzo has been accused of with the lyrics in this song. In the US, the word "spaz" (which is the word causing the uproar) is defined by Merriam-Webster as "one who is inept; klutz."
In fact, the sentence examples given in the Merriam-Webster definition are as follows:
"I'm a real spaz on the ski slopes."
"I haven't played tennis in years, so don't be surprised if I am a total spaz on the court."
The UK definition of "spaz" is a lot more offensive
While the term isn't really even thought of as offensive in the US, it takes on a whole different meaning in the UK. The Cambridge Dictionary defines spaz as "an offensive way of referring to someone who has cerebral palsy (= a condition of the body that makes it difficult to control the muscles.)
A totally different playing field when you cross the pond. To her credit, Lizzo immediately addressed the situation and actually changed the lyric from "I'ma spaz" to "Hold me back" while offering this message on Twitter.
Classy move by Lizzo and also begs the question in the future -- should artists release country-specific versions of songs to avoid situations like this? You'd think Lizzo didn't use that word with the genuine intent of insulting anyone or being derogatory. But, all that said...