Zara Larsson fans have been waiting for this moment.
It's been almost exactly four years since the Swedish singer released her debut international album So Good, positioning her as a force in the global pop scene with the second most-streamed debut by a female artist on Spotify ever. And now, after a steady string of singles teasing the collection dating as far back at fall 2018, she's finally returned with her new LP, Poster Girl.
"I didn't really know where to go when I first started making it," Zara told E! News about the 12-track album, released on Mar. 5. "And then the last couple of weeks before lockdown, I felt like I really got it together, just sonically and [with] the theme of the album."
As she explained, she was hoping to capture the feeling of transitioning out of being a teenager and into becoming a young woman, going through heartbreaks and "just finding yourself." But that doesn't mean the material isn't a good time. "It's not an album for someone who wants to cry," Zara added. "Maybe cry on the dance floor."
With the album arriving just days ahead of International Women's Day on Mar. 8, Zara will commemorate the annual holiday with an exclusive online concert, performing tracks off the new LP as well as some of her biggest hits. The livestream, presented by Live Nation courtesy of Ikea, will air exclusively on Zara's YouTube page for a limited time.
In celebration of Poster Girl, E! News asked Zara to pull back the curtain on the albums and artists who have influenced her over the years. From the one song she'd listen to for the rest of her life to the LP she wishes she'd made herself, this is the soundtrack to her life.
The song/album that reminds me of childhood: It's actually a Swedish artist. Her name is Carola, and she was my first idol ever. She sings in Swedish, so I really connected with that and, later on, I found out about international artists and stuff. I don't know if you guys watch the Eurovision Song Contest, she won that in Sweden at 16, so she started out very young. But that was in the '80s, so she was well in her career when I was young. I just thought she was the coolest person ever and I wanted to be just like her...I always said, "I will never do a song in Swedish," but then I had a late-night concert that was shown on Swedish television [when] we had no live shows this summer. I invited her as a guest because I was like, "This is my first idol. I would love you to be on it." She said yes. We did a song together. People were like, "You should release that song." So we did and it's one of her biggest hits. It blew up in Sweden, like strangely huge. So that was really cool for me.
The first album I remember buying: Probably Back to Basics with Christina Aguilera. I just saw the album cover, and I thought she looked so beautiful. It was at the time where you could go into a record store and actually listen to the album, they had headphones and you could hear the tracks. "Hurt" was on that album and me and my mom, we saw the video for that song and we just cried so much...I remember so well the first time seeing it. She always goes back to that video when she wants to cry. But that one, I remember buying it myself. My mom was really nice to me and bought me a lot of CDs, but that one I got for myself with my money.
The song/album people might not expect me to love: My two main categories when I listen to my Spotify, it's rap and hip hop and Afrobeats. I really like J Hus. He's my favorite artist, I think. One of them, for sure. And then I really like Burna Boy and WizKid. I've had WizKid on my tracks, I hope people know that I like him. I really, really love him. I really do listen to everything. A lot of people say that, but I really enjoy everything except for death metal, I would say. My dad loves that, so I've heard a bit of that as well.
The song/album I turn to when I'm at my lowest: I don't listen to music at all when I'm at my lowest. It's really strange. That's how I know. That's a first sign that I don't feel well, that I don't want to listen to any music. I won't touch any apps, YouTube—I'm not interested. That's when I know, "Ugh, you're feeling bad." I just put on a podcast. That's how I deal with it.
If I could only hear one song for the rest of my life, it would be: "Bohemian Rhapsody," since it's like five songs in one. So I get five songs. Also, it's such an amazing song. It's like, what the f--k is going on? I think it's so beautiful that they made that. So free, no rules, but it still works. It's a masterpiece to me.
The song/album that's guaranteed to get me turned all the way up: I would say anything by Megan Thee Stallion these days. One hundred percent. Absolutely. I really like her EP before this, Suga. I like Good News too, but I think Suga was lit.
The song/album I wish I wrote/recorded: channel ORANGE [by Frank Ocean]. I wish that was mine. Don't we all? It's just, from top to finish, perfection. So well made.
My own song that I'll never get tired of performing: I think "Lush Life." I saw Céline Dion, I can't remember where it was, [but] she was saying in an interview—and I was like, "That's so true"—the fact you go out, "F--k, I have to sing this song again. I've been singing this song a million times." And then you start the intro and you just see the crowd go crazy. And then you're like, "Oh, OK, this is why I enjoy singing this song." Because of the reactions you get from the crowd. That song gets people really hyped, that one and "Never Forget You." I love to perform them because people know them really well. So that's very fun.
My own song that I'll be happy to retire: Well, it's kind of the same answer in a weird way. So hopefully, on this record, I'll get another hit and we can just say goodbye to "Lush Life" and "Never Forget You" and still have that same reaction.
The song on my new project that I can't wait for fans to sing along with me on tour: I am very excited for "I Need Love." It just feels like such a good sing-along tune. It's really something that's made for an arena, like a big crowd singing with me. I can't wait for that.
Poster Girl is available now.