At the end of SZA’s gorgeous “Hit Different” music video, fans were treated to a second new song. Dubbed “Good Days,” the second track served as a B-side of sorts to the Ty Dolla $ign-assisted Billboard Hot 100 Top 40 hit. After spending a number of weeks in “clearance,” according to SZA, the track finally saw its official release on digital streaming platforms on Christmas Day 2020. A number of days later, due to a less-than-warm reception from fans in terms of the mixing of the song, an updated version of “Good Days” was uploaded to streaming platforms.
“Good Days” has been through the wringer and it’s not even a month old yet. Nevertheless, there’s really nothing that could prevent this track from being an absolute stunner. A sonic shift from the Neptunes-produced “Hit Different,” “Good Days” positions SZA squarely in Ctrl territory with a dash of her mixtape days. The murky guitar-laced track is a tour de force of religious imagery, nostalgia, and hope. On the urgent pre-chorus, SZA sings, “I try to keep from losin’ the rest of me/I worry that I wasted the best of me on you, babe.” This is a SZA that has matured greatly from Ctrl. On her incredible debut studio album, there were songs like “Anything” and “20 Something,” that were tracked with a specific fear and pain that “Good Days” is free from. “Good Days” doesn’t reject that fear and pain as much as it studies it, understands it, and transforms it into something that SZA can turn into grace and power as she moves forward. When Jacob Collier’s backing vocals come in on the chorus, the song lifts into a dreamy mélange of optimism as the two sing: “I still wanna try, still believe in/Good days, good days, always.”
“Good Days” doesn’t shy away from commenting on the codependency and toxicity that grounded some of “Hit Different’s” lyrics. In the second verse, she sings “I’ll disappear if you let me,” but she quickly returns to staking out a space for herself and her own journey with “gotta hold my own, my cross to bear alone.” SZA’s melodies often have a sense of unpredictability, but on “Good Days,” it’s almost divine the way everything seamlessly fits together. Whether she’s harmonizing with Jacob or using a more rap-leaning cadence, she delivers. If “Good Days” and “Hit Different” are anything to go off of, SZA’s sophomore album is going to be a problem.