Lizzo is good at many things: singing, rapping, twerking… and playing the flute. The very presence of a chubby black woman performing in front of thousands, wearing extravagant show costumes, proudly throwing her ass in a circle, and simply not giving a fuck, is pretty radical in and of itself. But there’s also never been a pop star who can do all that and virtuosically shred on the flute at the same damn time.
A classically trained flautist, the artist born Melissa Jefferson first picked up the instrument 20 years ago to play in her Houston junior high marching band. She first started getting recognition for her flute skills on her 2016 song “Coconut Oil,” but really started going viral when she shared a cover of Future’s “Mask Off” the following year. Since then, she’s uploaded dozens more videos of her mind-blowing performances; the more famous she gets, the more she breaks preconceptions that flautists are only band geeks, black tie-clad first chairs at the Philharmonic, or old prog rock dudes. “One day there’s gonna be a person that fucks up the flute and twerk way harder than me and I’m gonna be so proud I paved the way for that bitch,” she recently tweeted.
In anticipation of this week’s release of Lizzo’s new album CUZ I LOVE YOU, we’ve gathered, in chronological order, the most impressive—and often hilarious—Lizzo flute footage. From a cover of Kendrick Lamar’s “Big Shot” to a showdown with Ron Burgundy, these are Lizzo’s best flute moments.
The first Lizzo flute video most people saw was her March 2017 octave-jumping cover of Future’s “Mask Off.” In her Instagram caption, she indicates that she was inspired by the Twitter user @BonafideTye, a fellow black female flautist who slayed her take on the flute-sampling Metro Boomin-produced beat and sparked a trend of “Mask Off” instrumental covers.
In a handful of clips that can be referred to as the “Suck My Dick” series, Lizzo delivers a grouping of crazy classical runs before pausing and singing “suck my diiiick” in an operatic voice. “The only clout I have to offer is my self worth,” she wrote in the caption of a September 2018 clip. “When you come to my shows there won’t be a viral moment, but there will be a real moment.” Lizzo doesn’t make flute videos for the internet fame. She makes them because she loves showing her full Lizzo-ness to the world.
In October 2018, Lizzo posted a video of her playing the flute at hyperspeed to a reworking of Kendrick Lamar’s “Big Shot,” only stopping to spit out a ferocious “BITCH!” Perfectly on beat, she finished a rapid trill and quickly launched into the viral “Shoot” dance in sync with her backup dancers. She captioned the clip: “HAVE U EVER SEEN A BITCH PLAY FLUTE THEN HIT THE SHOOT?” The internet collectively realized that the answer was “no.”
New Orleans’ Voodoo Music and Arts Experience took place on the weekend before Halloween last year. For the occasion, Lizzo went all out by performing dressed as Sailor Moon (with her backup dancers dressed as all the other Sailor Moon characters). In this video, Lizzo is trilling on top of a trap beat while a Sailor Mars-dressed dancer goes off behind her.
When rumors came out that Disney was working on a live-action version of The Little Mermaid, some Lizzo fans pointed out that the singer’s evil villain laugh was proof enough that she could be an amazing contender to play Ursula. To continue this “Lizzo for Ursula” campaign, in a November 2018 video, Lizzo dressed up as the sea witch and started playing a few notes of “Under the Sea” on the flute. But immediately, the “Knuck If You Buck” beat starts, she does a mini-twerk, and plays along.
In a November 2018 message to her haters, Lizzo addresses allegations that her flute-playing videos are doctored. “There are people who are doubting that I’m classically trained flautist, that these videos are fake,” she begins. “I just really think that that’s a sign that I’m finally popping! I’m going to celebrate by actually putting my flute together and actually blowing notes out of it, so you hoes can shut the fuck up.” She then explains the details of her particular flute (which she named “Sasha Flute” after Beyonce’s alter-ego) before playing “her favorite note of the whole scale”: F natural for “fuck y’all.”
In this clip from January 2019 of Lizzo performing at a Los Angeles strip club, she plays a ripping flute solo during a breakdown of “Juice.” She’s crouching on the stage with bills strewn around her, a backup dancer holding the microphone up to her mouth. As soon as she releases the final note of the solo, Lizzo grabs the mic and launches straight into a wailing ad-lib. Since that appearance, Lizzo has brought that solo to “Ellen,” the GLAAD Awards, “The Today Show,” and “TRL.”
While appearing on Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson’s “2 Dope Queens” HBO special in February, Lizzo demonstrated her trademark flute and twerk. While Williams and Robinson watched on, mouths with flutes in hand, Lizzo turned her backside to the audience and somehow shook her booty to the exact same tempo as her trills.
Also in February, Lizzo uploaded a cover in honor of the 20th anniversary of Juvenile’s “Back That Azz Up.” Standing in a beautiful Amsterdam plaza with her friends, wearing a green ombre wig, Lizzo starts playing the synth part to the classic twerk anthem, awaiting the beat to drop. And when it does, they all shake their asses at once.
Lizzo is the hottest flautist in pop culture since Will Ferrell’s Ron Burgundy character set a flute on fire in Anchorman. To prove it, in March, she recreated that iconic scene from the 2004 comedy in a sketch video in which she casually rips out a rendition of her single “Juice” at a smoky jazz bar. (Este Haim makes a cameo). And yes, she sucks up a bystander’s margarita with the flute and then ignites the end of the barrel. The elaborate, extremely accurate Anchorman replication was Lizzo’s latest move in an ongoing “jazz flute duel” that she challenged Ferrell to last November. (In January, Ferrell, as Burgundy, responded to Lizzo with his own crazy solo.)
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