How Lizzo defined our present moment with 'About Damn Time'

A woman with long fingernails holds her hands to her face
Minnesotans chose Lizzo's "About Damn Time" as their number one song of 2022.
Artwork by Natalia Toledo | MPR; Lizzo: Atlantic Records

By Bora | The Current

Lizzo’s “About Damn Time” was for all of us. That is probably why The Current’s listeners chose it as the No. 1 song of the Top 89 of 2022.

In Lizzo’s HBO Max documentary Love, Lizzo, she says she wrote “About Damn Time” and the rest of her album, Special, while feeling sad, mad, and hurt. Over the past couple of years, all of us have experienced one or a combination of those same feelings. The whole world felt the effects of the pandemic to varying degrees. Lizzo knows this.

She empathically checks in on fans when she poses the questions, “Is everybody back up in the buildin'? / It's been a minute, tell me how you're healin'” and “How you feelin'? How you feel right now?” As the culture heals, a new normal arises and the feelings we’ve had become yesterday’s problems. In an interview she did with Sean Evans on the “wings and an interview” web series Hot Ones she exclaims, “we needed [‘About Damn Time’] right when it dropped.” The song’s unmatched timing and message captures the zeitgeist of this weird period in time.

Released April 14, “About Damn Time” was Lizzo’s first single of 2022, but the last song she wrote for her fourth studio album, Special. It arrived at the front-end of a wave of upbeat releases this year — Beyonce’s Renaissance, Rina Sawayama’s Hold the Girl, and Drake’s Honestly, Nevermind.

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Playing into the line “too fine to be this stressed,” the song’s music video appropriately opens with a Stressed and Sexy support group congregating. In the short skit, the group leader asks attendees for an assignment she gave in presumably the previous meeting. As the leader calls on Lizzo to present her poem first, she gives an award-winning performance by acting surprised while taking a sip of her beverage. (A second Emmy is already in order.) As soon as a loud, yet quiet “ANYWAY” echoes the music begins.

The theatrics plays into the underlying playfulness of the song with lines like “feelin' fussy, walkin' in my Balenci-ussies” while still accompanying the more serious ones such as, “I been so down and under pressure.” The oscillation between the low spirits and classic Lizzo confidence in the lyrics are a familiar balance of emotions. Then the first strum of the bass is like a beck and call and without a second thought, the disco-pop track mesmerizes you.

Social media had been salivating for its long overdue roaring 2020s moment and “About Damn Time” just might’ve been the catalyst. On TikTok in particular, Lizzo got caught up in a dance challenge when user Jaeden Gomez choreographed some moves to the second verse. The app has the ability to blow up a song in no time and it did just that. The trend was already going viral, but after Lizzo promoted the dance the machine got working. Others joined in, such as Reese Witherspoon, Gisele Bündchen, Selena Gomez, Joe Jonas, among others. It got to the point where Lizzo had to come back on TikTok and gently correct the poor, rhythmless people clapping off the beat.

She went on to demonstrate the dance on The Late Late Show With James Corden segment, “Carpool Karaoke,” where she tapped the original dance creator, Jaeden, to appear in the bit. Bringing the dance to television further cemented the reach of “About Damn Time.”

Live, or through a pair of over-ear headphones, “About Damn Time” holds an unarguable amount of magic. When Lizzo graced us with her presence at the Xcel Energy Center, she described it as a “homecoming.” The entire concert felt like a long-awaited reunion when the protagonist returns from a long journey after achieving their goal — in Lizzo’s case, another hit. She kept the audience on their toes, making everyone wait till the very end to hear her biggest hit of the year. When she finally gave concertgoers that relief and performed “About Damn Time” it was as if the audience ascended into a new level of happiness while reciting the second verse back to Lizzo word for word.

In the decades to come, “it’s bad bitch o’clock” will be considered a legitimate measure of time and popular Instagram photo caption. From appearing on Saturday Night Live twice this year to launching Yitty to premiering an Emmy-winning reality show, Lizzo has had a monumental year. The catalyst for it undoubtedly includes (but is not limited to) the dropping of “About Damn Time.” The song spoke to us on varying levels. It packaged everything we’ve been feeling the past couple of years in a disco-esque tune and got us on our feet again.