SZA’s “SOS” Guides You Through the Five Stages of Breakup Grief


It’s not you, it’s SZA. After ending an 11-year relationship, the 14-time Grammy nominee claims she’s in her “villain era.” 

In 2017, her album “Ctrl” explored themes of adolescence, heartbreak, and lots of love. The five-year album drought since then has not been easy, though no one was wronged as much as the broken couple. Fortunately the singer’s long-awaited 23-track album “SOS” has finally dropped for those waiting to save their (relation)ships or end their engagements. 

Run through the five stages of breakup grief with the “SOS” songs quoted below! Ratings are based on my ambiguous assessment of whatever tickles the ears best. 


Denial. The first stage after a breakup, denial looms over SZA’s “Love Language,” “Blind,” and “Snooze.” 

  • “Love Language” (6/10): “You don’t wanna be, be without me / You don’t want to leave” 
  • “Blind” (8/10): “All of the love I seek living inside of me / I can’t see, I’m blind”
  • “Snooze” (10/10): “You just too important / Nobody do body like you do”

Anger. “Kill Bill,” “Smokin on my Ex Pack,” and “Forgiveless (feat. Ol’ Dirty Bastard)” truly exemplify SZA’s anger by bringing in a former Wu-Tang member with a record of yell-y tracks.

  • “Kill Bill” (10/10): “I might kill my ex”
  • “Smoking on my Ex Pack” (9/10): “You gassin’ like Texaco / Infection like microbe”
  • “Forgiveless (feat. Ol’ Dirty Bastard)” (8/10): “I don’t mind burning bridges… I might forgive it, I won’t forget it”

Bargaining. In “F2F” and “Nobody Gets Me,” SZA adamantly dodges closure as she enters the third phase of breakup grief. 

  • “F2F” (3/10): “Wishin’ that it wasn’t so hard… I hate me enough for the two of us”
  • “Nobody Gets Me” (5/10): “If I’m real, I deserve less / If I was you, I wouldn’t take me back”

Depression. With a Phoebe Bridgers feature in one song, “SOS”’ “Ghost in the Machine (feat. Phoebe Bridgers),” “Special,” and “Far” induces *inevitable* tears from the artist’s depression phase. 

  • “Ghost in the Machine (feat. Phoebe Bridgers)” (4/10): “Can you make me happy? Can you keep me happy?”
  • “Special” (6/10): “I’m just a loser / I used to be special”
  • “Far” (7/10): “It makes me feel very small… Try to wash all my emotions”

Acceptance. Finally, four of the album’s last songs in a row — “Shirt,” “Open Arms (feat. Travis Scott),” “I Hate U,” and “Good Days” — show that SZA’s finally accepted the split and is working to move on. 

  • “Shirt” (8/10): “Feeling lost, but I like it / Comfort in my sins, and all about me”
  • “Open Arms (feat. Travis Scott)” (10/10): “I gotta let you go, I must… I’m the only one that’s holdin’ me down”
  • “I Hate U” (9/10): “I be so sick of you… I can’t keep no conflict with you”
  • “Good Days” (10/10): “Gotta let go of weight, can’t keep what’s holding me”


While the eight other songs don’t fall into the five stages, SZA generally dwells on heartbreak in “SOS.” I prefer the variety of topics and sound in “Ctrl” (and personally can’t get over the “How Far I’ll Go” / Avril Lavigne sound of “F2F”). Hopefully, though, with SZA’s guidance every step of the (breakup grief) way, your split won’t garner the “SOS” you think it needs. Rather, you’ll feel much more in “Ctrl.”