Recently, I wrote about Ariana Grande’s lead single ‘Positions’. The track featured powerful vocals, including her signature whistle tones, and was complimented well with an upbeat flow. The song, like many of Grande’s before, was a 90s style blend of pop and r&b, with her unique take giving it a fresh vibe.
‘Positions’ left me, alongside many other fans, waiting in anticipation for a modern-day classic album from the songstress. While many have debated whether the album met these expectations; with solid vocals, a few standout tracks, and some experimentation sonically, it is certainly a great listen.
“Guess it fuckin’ just clicked one night
All them demons helped me see shit differently
So don’t be sad for me”ARIANA GRANDE – ‘POSITIONS’
Grande primarily focuses her album on her lustful love life, while also updating us on her mental health journey and newfound positivity. While the singer has had her fair share of tragedy and loss over the past couple of years, she reassures fans of songs such as ‘Just Like Magic’ that she is feeling better.
With lyrics like “Take my pen and write some love letters to heaven”, we get a sense that Ariana has found peace in the passing of her ex-boyfriend, while she adds that she’s “Losing friends left and right, but I just send ‘em love and light”, alluding to another heart-breaking loss she had had to come to terms with. Overall, though she concludes “Good Karma, my aesthetic”, showing us that she is swiftly moving on from all negativity.
The first song on the album, ‘Shut Up’, also serves as some reassurance of the singer’s healing process. She’s silencing the haters, recovering, and light-heartedly chirps that she’s indulging in some retail therapy as “Diamonds good for my appetite”.
“If I put it quite plainly
Just gimme them babies
So what you doing tonight?”Ariana Grande – ‘SHUT UP’
Grande talks a lot about her spirituality and moving on from negativity, though most of the album is centered around her new relationship and her passionate sex life. The second single from the release, ‘34+35’ is as full of double entendres as its title, which in case you’re not too sure on the math, is explicitly explained by Grande in the song’s outro.
Likewise the passionate and catchy ‘Six Thirty’ emphasizes the singer’s confidence, with her stating that she’s “very delicious” from the first verse. Track 8 showcases the soulful tones of Ariana’s voice as she instructs her partner on how to satisfy her, while embracing new beginnings, throughout ‘My Hair’. On ‘Nasty’, seemingly tired of being well behaved, Grande shakes the double entendres all together and explicitly states her need to “get nasty”. The sultry themed lyrics are accompanied by a bouncy flow and impeccable whistle tones.
The album includes three features. ‘Motive’ featuring Doja Cat experiments with an electronic-pop sound, creating a bouncy dance track which is accompanied by soulful vocals from the duo. ‘Off the Table’ is formed by slow instrumental and lush strings, with a feature from previous collaborator The Weeknd. As Grande questions whether she will ever love again, or if romance is “off the table” for her, the rapper ultimately responds that he “will wait for you whenever you need”. The third and final feature on the album is ‘Safety Net’, on which Ariana is accompanied by Ty Dolla Sign. Throughout the track, she describes how she is “tripping, falling, with no safety net” and is happy taking risks with her new man even though she is admittedly scared. Ty Dolla Sign’s smooth, raspy voice, in turn, encourages her to “let your guard down”, followed by the pair coming together with a delightful harmony for the chorus.
On ‘West Side’ and ‘Obvious’, the songstress makes it clear that for as long as she’s happy this relationship is here to stay, and even lets listeners in on the seriousness of her new love as she lets her partner know that she wants to “Be your wife like that”. ‘Obvious’ brings a joyful, relaxed tone to the album, as the pop star confesses that she knew this guy was great from the start, and comes to the happy conclusion, after her earlier worries on ‘Off the Table’, that she does “believe in love again”.
Love language is one of the few tracks on the album in which Grande experiments with her sound. With disco undertones, smooth, soulful vocals, and sultry lyrics the song boasts a unique blend of genres. In keeping with her theme of recovery, the songstress confesses that she’s still “unlearning what ain’t right”, while also reinstating that she’s in this for the long run as she “ain’t tryna sign no lease” instead she’s “just gon’ make you my home”.
‘POV’ draws the album to a conclusion with Ariana wishing she could see herself from her partner’s “point of view”. The songstress shows off her vocal strength, and lyrical creativity on this triumphant ballad. After 14 tracks of healing, lust, and allowing herself to fall in love, she has finally settled into this new chapter of her life.
To an extent, the album feels as though it is missing something. With the absence of fun, relatable hits like ‘7 Rings’ or stand out singles such as ‘Thank You, Next’, it feels as though it never quite reaches its climax. Though intimate, it lacks personal emotion, except for a few tracks, making it difficult to relate to or grow attached to many of the songs.
Overall the album remains a success, redeemed by a powerful range of vocals, skillful whistle tones, and Ariana Grande’s ability to float between and merge multiple genres.
Though it may not be one for girls’ night or the club, as the UK settles into its second lockdown over these winter months, the album featuring its romantic themes, slow jam-Esque tracks, and soothing vocals, is almost certain to become a slow burner and likely to soar straight to the top of the charts.