SXSW: Lizzo/Beto 2020? That's what our national treasure says
She wants to be in it. Man, Lizzo’s just born to be in it.
Hands over your hearts, America! The new leader of the free world is here. Hand over your nickels and $2 bills, too, because we’ve got to switch Thomas Jefferson out for Melissa Jefferson. The singer/rapper/flutist better known as Lizzo declared her candidacy for president of the United States on Thursday at South by Southwest. Perhaps sensing that the country might not yet deserve her full executive power, she also informed the nation (and Stubb’s) that she would join Beto O’Rourke as the former El Paso congressman’s running mate. Does Beto even know? Who cares: He had a chance to launch his campaign in Austin last week, and he passed. It ain’t Lizzo’s fault that she’s out here making news!
Oh, you say that she was joking? Maybe you didn’t see her satin, Texas-themed eleganza. Lizzo is a Houston gal. She knows that red, white and blue look best in sequins and fringe. The ensemble could have been described as “Betsy Ross after listening to Kacey Musgraves.” And the speechifying! The sermonizing! The charismatic oration! The Lauren Bacall-worthy pronunciation of "unbothered"! Lizzo preaches self-love — always has, always (hopefully) will. She's more urgent now, it seems. There's ease, there's conviction.
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“Being unbothered is the best accessory a bitch can wear,” she said. Where is the nearest Claire’s? I need it!
“We’re all under one roof. If America springs a leak, we all got work to do,” she said. Show me where to find the caulk, ma’am!
Lizzo blasted the roof off of Stubb’s with powerhouse vocals on “Cuz I Love You” and “Jerome.” It was especially impressive because Stubb’s has no roof. Ugh, her mind. She laid down the playful bars she’s been spitting since day one on “Worship Me” and “Truth Hurts.” She classed up the joint with the help of her trusty flute (which has its own Instagram account) on “Coconut Oil” and “Juice.” That latter track is a pop-funk masterpiece, and the fact that it’s not yet on every radio station and in every TV commercial and on every wedding DJ’s setlist is proof that the devil is still punching his timecard.
She's got the power of true inspiration. When she tells you that she’s conquering depression, loneliness and her email inbox, she’s not trying to boast for boasting’s sake. You know how some people repeat affirmations to themselves in the mirror each morning, about how they’re worthy of love? Lizzo and her fans are that reflection for each other. The singer's audience lifts her up (she'll be the first to say it), and Lizzo lifts them up in return. You feel high when you leave the venue, because you know there’s truth to her claim: If you can love her, you can love yourself.
Of course Lizzo isn’t running for president. Because America is not a monarchy, and she is already a queen. She has the lewks. She’s got the talent. She speaks the truth. The joy of watching this artist embrace the full charisma that she possesses over the years — from SXSW appearances past to Austin City Limits Music Festival daytime sets to opening for Haim to taking over Emo’s — has led me to one question. Why isn't this woman a household name yet?
It could be tomorrow, and it should be tomorrow. Thursday's spin through Austin, I’d wager, will be the last time anyone in this town saw Lizzo before she’s a bonafide national treasure.