Ben Winslow ’23
Ariana Grande has become in the last 3 years arguably pop’s biggest star and a singer well on her way to writing her name down as one of the legends of music. 3 albums in 3 years, 5 number 1 songs, a worldwide tour, all while dealing with trauma, heartache, and struggles in her personal life. On her new album “Positions”, she breaks into a new mold and distances herself from the heavy painful topics of her past two albums. She rings in the new album with the string-heavy track “shut up”, and she closes the album with the standout song “pov” a song about looking at yourself in the way others do. Throughout the album, she fills a lot of the songs with generic lyrics, repetitive beats, and a new R&B sound that it seems she has not quite found her footing in yet. In this album she of course delivers amazing vocals, her use of a whistle register in the track “my hair” is unlike any other singer in the world. But the overabundance of her whistle register seemingly takes away some of the mystical feels about it. She collaborates on this album with Doja Cat, The Weeknd, and Ty Dolla $ign, the collaboration with rising star Doja Cat is one of the biggest misses of the album with a generic sound, a boring verse from Doja Cat, and lyrics that are not standout. The other two collaborations stand out more, but still not some of the best songs on the album. Reflecting on Ms. Grande’s past few years she most definitely deserved a fun, lighthearted album, but coming off of the emotional heavyweight “thank u, next”, some listeners may be disappointed in what they hear on “Positions”.
Even with its negative parts this is still not a bad album, in fact with her voice and her ability to market a song it would be hard to even think of her releasing a bad song, but this is most definitely not her best work. Ariana has an interesting fan base that genuinely just likes to hear her sing, and they will appreciate whatever music they can get their hands on. This album to them is the best, but give them a few months to sit with the material “Positions” will not be able to hold its own against Grande’s “thank u, next” and her fan favorite “Dangerous Woman”. If Grande was trying to step away from her younger audience, and begin to have an appeal to an older audience as stars like Taylor Swift and Adele do, she is on the right path, but if this is her trying a new sound it may not end well with her fans. Grande has had an amazing few years as pop’s biggest star, and her time is not over any time soon. “thank u, next” brought her to the table with the stars, and “Positions” is just good enough to make sure she keeps her seat. Give her time to figure out her R&B sound, and she will deliver a grammy-winning, show-stopping, masterpiece in her next album.