Lizzo has changed the lyrics to her new track “GRRRLs” after fans cried out against a word in the song that they deemed a harmful “ableist slur.”
The “About Damn Time” singer, 34, addressed the backlash in an Instagram post on Monday. “It’s been brought to my attention that there is a harmful word in my new song ‘GRRRLS,’” Lizzo wrote. “Let me make one thing clear: I never want to promote derogatory language. As a fat black woman in America, I’ve had many hurtful words used against me so I overstand [sic] the power words can have (whether intentionally or in my case, unintentionally).”
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Lizzo went on to announce that she has made a “new version of GRRRLs with a lyric change.”
“This is the result of me listening and taking action,” she added. “As an influential artist I’m dedicated to being part of the change I’ve been waiting to see in the world.” She signed the post, “Xoxo, Lizzo” and added a heart emoji in the caption.
The controversial lyrics that set off social media comes in the first verse of “GRRRLs”, with Lizzo using the word “spaz” as she sings over the a sample of “Girls” by the Beastie Boys. “Hold my bag, b—h/ Hold my bag/ Do you see this s–t?/ I’m a spaz,” she sings. “I’m about to knock somebody out/ Yo, where my best friend?/ She the only one I know to talk me off the deep end.”
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The derogatory term drew almost immediate backlash online when the song was released. “Hey @lizzo my disability Cerebral Palsy is literally classified as Spastic Diplegia (where spasticity refers to unending painful tightness in my legs) your new song makes me pretty angry + sad,” one person wrote. “‘Spaz’ doesn’t mean freaked out or crazy. It’s an ableist slur. It’s 2022. Do better.”
Hey @lizzo my disability Cerebral Palsy is literally classified as Spastic Diplegia (where spasticity refers to unending painful tightness in my legs) your new song makes me pretty angry + sad. ‘Spaz’ doesn’t mean freaked out or crazy. It’s an ableist slur. It’s 2022. Do better.
— Hannah Diviney (@hannah_diviney) June 12, 2022
Another tweeted, “It doesn’t matter if lizzo knew the ableist connotations of the word sp*z, it is still problematic. so many people will sing this song and integrate the word into their day to day language.”
Others asked the singer to remove the word from the song. “Hey @lizzo please remove the word ‘spaz’ from your new song because it’s a slur and really offensive to the disabled community,” a “disappointed fan” tweeted.
Hey @lizzo please remove the word “spaz” from your new song because it’s a slur and really offensive to the disabled community
From a disappointed fan 😔💔
— Shelby 🖤 (@Shelbykinsxo) June 10, 2022
After Lizzo announced the lyric change, at least some of her critics were grateful to the artist for listening to their feedback.
“I’m going to cry,” one of Lizzo’s original critics posted. “Thank you so much for hearing us Lizzo and for understanding that this was only ever meant gently and being open to learning, it honestly means the world,” she added. “You’re a real true ally.”
I’m going to cry 😭 Thank you so much for hearing us Lizzo and for understanding that this was only ever meant gently and being open to learning, it honestly means the world ❤️. You’re a real true ally https://t.co/RbQCbAwpR6
— Hannah Diviney (@hannah_diviney) June 13, 2022
“GIRRRLs” is the second single off Lizzo’s new album Special, which will be released July 15.