Loneliness is a slippery slope; it can make people sacrifice themselves and their true desires for the sake of companionship. Continuing our SZA series, see the first part here, we further explore her album’s themes of sexuality, self-love, and control that make Ctrl so hard-hitting and iconic. In the song, “Drew Barrymore,” we are given a voyeuristic element as if reading directly from her diary. What makes this song differ from the others on the album is the blatant melancholy that is present the minute the song begins.
According to Genius, the song is named “Drew Barrymore” because it is heavily inspired by the movies Never Been Kissed and Poison Ivy, which both feature the actress for whom the song was named. This song shows this grim and unassured facet of SZA because it’s about having low self-esteem, specifically feeling unsure about the nature of a relationship.
She starts the song questioning, “why is it so hard to accept the party is over?” Within the notes we learn SZA has gone to a party for a boy she’s interested in, but upon arriving realizes he’s brought another girl to the party as his date. To combat her feelings of loneliness and jealousy, SZA tries to numb herself with distractions saying “somebody get the tacos, somebody spark the blunt . . . let’s start the Narcos off at episode one.” The reality is that the party is over—but just for SZA—because she feels so alone that she is trying to distract herself with drugs, alcohol, and entertainment to continue feeling like she’s still part of the party.
The chorus brings in the metaphor of her asking if she’s not “warm” enough for this man, “tell me that it's warm enough here for ya.” She’s asking if she’s warm enough for him on the outside, to inquire is she hot enough for him? The lines almost stack on top of each other, creating this overwhelming weight. She’s trying to find assurance from him while trying to convince herself that she’s enough, but she’s failing at both.
Line after line she goes and demeans herself, her lack of self-love overtly present. She talks about how she gets so lonely that she forgets what she’s worth; Not to mention the fact that she says “we get so lonely, we pretend that this works.” That’s what makes this song so raw is the reality of this situation. She goes on to apologize to this man for not being more attractive, not being more lady-like, and for not shaving her legs at night. At the end of the apology, she tells him that he needs to collect his soul and get it right. She tells him this because she realizes that both of them are lost. These people are trying to make things work just so they have someone to be with because once they’re alone, they’re left with facing their fears and insecurities.
The bridge of the song really solidifies the feeling of being broken down and insecure. Insecurity and loneliness are very common emotions and this song encapsulates what it means to feel those sentiments so much that you limit yourself out of fear. She says “sorry, I just need to see you . . . I’m sorry I’m so clingy I don’t mean to be a lot.” She questions what his intentions are in this relationship, saying “do you really wanna love me like you say you do . . . give it to me like you say you do?” As if he’s using her for sex and she’s using him to not feel so alone. She does this because of his actions, saying that it’s hard enough on her that he treats her like this but what makes it worse is that she’s “lonely enough to let you treat me like this.”