The “Truth Hurts” singer’s honor came in one of four subcategories under 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg’s selection as the youngest-ever person of the year. This year’s choices are different from Time’s traditional practice of a winner and runners-up.
For more than 90 years, the magazine has selected the “the man, woman, group or concept” — OK, for most of those years it was the man of the year — that has been the most influential over the last 12 months. This time, the subcategory selections are the people who “dominated” their fields, rather than the runners-up.
“ARE … YOU … NOT … ENTERTAINED?!?” Lizzo tweeted Wednesday morning with a cover from the magazine, echoing Russell Crowe’s angry “Gladiator” line but accenting it with a joyful starry-eyes emoji instead of rage.
“Lizzo is the rare feel-good story in the music business: Six years after her first album, steadily winning over audiences with empowering, musically dexterous records celebrating her black skin and ample curves, she has finally cracked the zeitgeist,” The Times’ Gerrick D. Kennedy said in his review of one of her October shows at the Palladium.
The 31-year-old — born Melissa Jefferson — joked to Time in a video interview that the thing she was most excited about in 2019 was the Popeye’s chicken sandwich. Then she dissolved into a hearty chuckle.
“I’m just kidding. I didn’t eat the Popeye’s chicken sandwich. I was so excited about all the women in 2019,” she said.
“Being a black woman is popping, but right now in mainstream culture we’re finally getting a little more respect and getting our due,” she said. “I’ve always been singing about the same [things]. I just think that people were ready to hear it and they’re also ready to receive it from someone like me.”
Although her ubiquitous hit “Good as Hell” came out in 2016, Lizzo’s dominance in 2019 comes on the back of “Cuz I Love You,” her third album. She’s up against Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X, among others, for best new artist, weirdly enough at January’s Grammy ceremony. “Truth Hurts,” originally released in 2017, with its meme-inspired line “I just took a DNA test, turns out I’m 100% that bitch,” is up for song, record and pop performance of the year.
“What you take away from [‘Cuz I Love You’], though — what makes Lizzo, beyond merely her lack of big success in the past, feel like part of something genuinely new — is her evolved thinking about beauty standards and the nature of femininity and how a power imbalance can affect the way a relationship proceeds,” The Times’ Mikael Wood said in an examination of the Grammy-nominations success seen this year by her, Eilish and Lil Nas X.
“Seeing the beauty in your naked body is really important. I think that naked bodies are artful. They’re masterful. You are a work of art,” Lizzo told Time. “So I take nudes.”
Last year’s Time winners included slain Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi; the staff of the Capital Gazette in Annapolis, Md., where five people were shot to death; Philippine journalist Maria Ressa; and two Reuters journalists, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo.