It is no secret that Ariana Grande is an icon — a pop princess who has revolutionized the genre with her independent, feministic nature. Aside from her confidence and clear beauty, Grande has a dominant and dynamic voice that is a force to be reckoned with. She undeniably possesses a wide vocal range — one that is often compared to those on Broadway — that can either sound soft and airy or loud and high.
Grande, though, has had anything but a simple time in the spotlight despite being seemingly perfect. She has faced more trauma within the past few years than most face in a lifetime. From the suicide bombing at her Manchester concert to losing her ex-boyfriend and lover Mac Miller to a drug overdose, Grande now suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, following these hardships.
After both life-altering and tragic events, Grande used her experiences to create defyingly forceful and compelling albums. Following the bombing, Sweetener was released followed by thank u, next, after Miller’s death and her very public break-up with her ex-fiancé, Pete Davidson.
Arguably, thank u, next is one of the best pop albums to be released, as it consists of many bangers and anthems, along with tracks that display heartache, distress and coping mechanisms. In the title track, “thank u, next,” Grande pays tribute to all of her exes, most notably her guardian angel, Mac Miller. Yet, she shows gratitude for these lessons and struggles as it has made her who she is, a theme we can all try hard to emulate when faced with sadness and despair.
Her latest album, Positions, however, is shockingly different, though a lot of her signature traits are still present. The album is more about self-growth, self-love, suspicion and sacredness regarding falling again, and well … a lot of sex. From the title of the album to other songs such as “34+35,” “six thirty,” “my hair” and “nasty,” several sexual references are made, and there is no denying Grande feels as if this is not a taboo topic, but in fact, something to embrace.
By being more carefree in her demeanor, Grande becomes teasing and playful. Lyrics like “If I put it quite plainly / Just gimme them babies,” in 34+35, shows she is overall happier, ready to open up again and confident when it comes to her sexuality. Other frisky lines include a pretty daring verse from “nasty,” where Grande sings, “I just wanna make time for you / Swear it’s just right for you / Like this p---y designed for you.”
It seems clear Grande might finally have no tears left to cry, considering most of her tracks on her latest are all around bubbly and fairly upbeat. That doesn’t go without saying that there are unfortunately no powerful hits worth belting like her well-known sensations. With all due respect, we are all for Grande exemplifying empowering intimacy and sensuality, yet it seems as if her approach to this accentuation became a bit repetitive in essence.
When jumping from track to track, the vibe remains stagnant with no real climax or track that strikes Ari-stans as special. Likely, nevertheless, “motive (feat. Doja Cat)” has potential to become decently popular.
Throughout, all of the songs embody a flirtier tone. Yet, there are few — specifically, “off the table (feat. The Weeknd)” — that touches on vulnerability and fear about letting love in again. The track is arguably the standout on the album, as it is the most beautifully pieced together composition. Both Grande and Abel Tesfaye’s seductive and serenading voices blend perfectly. Originally, they even reference past songs of theirs within the lyrics, such as “Love me Harder,” when Tesfaye sings “I can love you harder than I did before.” He also sings, “I was haunted by the hills,” likely alluding to his hit “The Hills.”
Sadly enough, this track, along with “safety net (feat. Ty Dolla $ign),” are too commonly relatable, as anyone who has either lost a lover to death or even a simple heart-wrenching breakup knows the feeling all too well of wondering if they are capable of love again and, when they discover they are, fear of letting their guard down and risking hurt once more. In “safety net (feat. Ty Dolla $ign),” Grande sings, “I’ve never been this scared before / Feelings I just can’t ignore / Don’t know if I should fight or fly.” If this isn’t a mood … we’re not sure what is.
Essentially, these two tracks are pain disguised by the voices of three angels.
Although Positions is full of lighthearted, flirtatious tracks, it is ultimately missing the same pizzazz and liveliness that make albums like Dangerous Woman and thank u, next so iconic.
However, Arianators and those alike couldn’t be more proud of Grande for continuously picking herself up and creating unmatched content that effectively reflects her state of being and strong womanhood. “just like magic” especially proves she is investing in and bettering herself for a future that is sure to be full of more exceptional music and everlasting love.