Concerts and tours have come to a halt since the coming of the Coronavirus pandemic, forcing artists to find innovative ways to connect with their fans. Specifically, R&B artists are collectively shifting their focus from consumer to art. Artists like Jazmine Sullivan, Jhene Aiko, Kehlani and Queen Naija bear it all on their most recent projects, focusing less on catchy choruses and more on poetic expression through song-writing. Continuing this theme of “bearing it all” is SZA in the alternative genre. SZA released “Good Days” at the end of 2020, on Christmas, as a gift to her fans. Since its release, “Good Days” has been at the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. On February 21st , during its 9th week on the charts, SZA announced through an instagram post that her single had just went platinum, selling over two million copies in the United States. She captioned the post, ” Proof of life. Good days is platinum ? thank you beyond a caption???✨?? ” .
I think it’s high-time we reflect on the magic of “Good Days”.
What exactly makes “Good Days” so special? Well, it’s a mixture of things. SZA’s fans have waited over three years for a solo project by her since the release of her debut studio album CTRL, in 2017. Her voice was missed. But even moreso, her genius lyricism was missed. It’s also nice to witness SZA’s growth as not only an artist but also as a woman. I thought it was a testament to her womanhood that SZA (a usual hopeless romantic) used her heartbreak as the backdrop for this particular story. She made her life the subject of her inspiration, rather than relying on a love interest as her muse like she has done so many times in the past on songs like “Sobriety” and “Love Galore ” featuring Travis Scott. On one hand, SZA is emerging from heartbreak in “Good Days”, but on the other, she is healing. As the song progresses, her regrets and doubts are replaced by acceptance, and we get to heal with her.
SZA redefines a “Good” day in a time when so many of our days have been questionable. While we maneuver these news transitions, and care for our mental states, while depression creeps up into our everyday lives, and the questions about the future persists, SZA teaches us several lessons about what having a “Good” day really means.
- First of all: A good day can be a decent day.
- Secondly, not all good days start off so good.
- Good days can have sad moments.
- Sad days can still be Good Days.
- Any day that you are alive and get to feel is a good day.
- And lastly, you can choose to have whatever day you wanna have.
There is something paradoxical about how SZA presents all the binaries in her song. Her lyrics are filled with opposing ideas but yet these opposites cannot exist without each other . There is an inside and an outside, a dark past and a hopeful future , fear but also courage. She begins the song with a dichotomy between the world in her head and the one outside of it, “Good day in my mind/ Safe to take a step out/Get some air now”. She starts out feeling confident and decides it may be safe to step outside of her thoughts and literally, physically step outside. But she quickly realizes that she is not ready, “ Too soon, I spoke. You’ve been heavy on my mind”, then she’s back in her thoughts. She describes this process of trying to make sense of this heartbreak as a war going on in her mind, “Trying to make sense ( or cents) of loose change/ Got me a war in my mind”. I think that anyone who has experienced heartbreak, or any trauma for that matter can relate to that feeling of your mind literally battling to let go of the pain.
How does SZA cope with the pain? Through acceptance. I’ve been wondering for so long what that line about armored fate meant. She sings, “Choose to watch/ While the world break up in front of me/ All the while, I’ll await my armored fate with a smile”. SZA is known for her wordplay and she is familiar with double entendres, like the one she used in the line about making sense/cents of loose change. While tumbling down the rabbit hole of google, scrolling through rap genius summaries, and SZA’s tweets, I came across a Wikipedia Page explaining the term Amor Fati, “Amor Fati is a Latin phrase that may be translated as “love of fate” or “love of one’s fate“. . . used to describe an attitude in which one sees everything that happens in one’s life, including suffering and loss, as good or. . . necessary”. This is SZA’s attitude on ” Good Days”. Otherwise, why would she be waiting with a smile? Another way to read armored fate is that anything armored is protected, it cannot be assaulted or affected. She could be acknowledging the fact that fate is concrete, and you cannot change it no matter how much you stress, or maneuver. This could be why she chooses to wait with a smile.
The most important take-away is that SZA is processing her own healing experience, which involves isolation, self-doubt, regret, fear, and insecurities. Heartbreak is not the main focus of “Good Days”, but I don’t necessarily think healing is either. I think ” Good Days” is celebrating the transition or the process and all of the parts in between heartbreak and healing. Sza chooses to relinquish a need to control her circumstances and instead allows herself to just go through the motions. Sometimes, we focus so much on the end goal we forget that living is all in the process.