In a position of power

Ariana Grande’s new album: unique and catchy


Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Ariana Grande strikes a pose for her latest album “Positions.” Through many killer songs, the album showcases the confident and intimate side of Ariana.

Emma Baker, Catalyst Editor-in-Chief

For more than a year and a half, Ariana Grande fans have been wondering what was “Thank U, Next” for the singer’s music career. I dreamt of a return to her lighter and softer music and longed to hear her angelic voice grace us with another outstanding album like 2018’s “Sweetener.”

Well, she delivered. 

On October 23, Grande released her new lead single “Positions,” and a week later, her sixth studio album (also “Positions”) was made public for the world to enjoy. Written while in quarantine with her luxury real estate agent boyfriend, Dalton Gomez, the 14-song album showcases a healed and empowered side to Grande that many have been rooting for. Hinting to past and current partners and the journey of self-love, her latest music displays both intimacy and empowerment.

The first song of the album is “Shut Up.” It begins with long, stretching strings and then ups the tempo. The verses are executed in that perfect look-at-me-now kind of way, expressing how Grande’s past “demons” actually helped her see things differently.  The chorus makes you want to jump in and do vocal runs with her. At first, I was hesitant about the high toned “shut ups” throughout the song, but after a few more listens, I was hooked. It’s definitely a song you could belt out in the shower, just make sure to skip the ridiculously long and eerie orchestral outro.

Some of the following songs, like “Motive” featuring Doja Cat, “Just Like Magic” and “Off the Table” featuring The Weeknd,  fit the album but are certainly not the strongest. The repetitive nature of those songs’ has my finger above the skip button after a minute or so. In addition, they’re slow and don’t have anything unique or exciting to offer. I was hopeful for Doja Cat and The Weeknd, but they really under-delivered. Their vocals stuck out—and not in the best way possible.

Things look up, however, when the album gets to “Six Thirty.” The song starts out with a techno and spacey intro. Her out-of-this-world voice hits you softly and makes the flirty lines pop. Although it’s one of her slower songs, it’s soothing, inviting and conveys Grande’s sweet desire for a committed relationship.

The next song “Safety Net” featuring Ty Dolla $ign was a welcome surprise for me. It starts off with richer and deeper tones than most other Grande songs. Her voice is so smooth and against the chill background music, I can merely close my eyes and feel the vibes radiating from the speakers. Dolla $ign incorporates himself into the song extremely well, and their harmonies are incredible.

While “Safety Net” was one of the better songs on the album, the next songs “My Hair,” “Nasty” and “West Side” are far lower on my favorites list. The hints of jazz in “My Hair” are unique and fun, but otherwise, those songs didn’t overly impress me.

“Love Language,” though, definitely grabbed my attention. There was no old-timey orchestral music; rather the violin’s beats were punchy and energetic. Grande infused fresh lyrics and intimacy into a song that exudes powerful energy. The only piece of “Love Language” that caused a raised brow was the fact that the song fades out and then comes back in with blasting lyrics that don’t fit the rest of the song.

Of course, the album wouldn’t be complete without its lead single “Positions.” This song was not hitting the mark for me upon the first listen. However, the more I listen, the more I like it. As with all of her songs, there are many double meanings to her lyrics. I chose to see this song as one of confidence and empowerment, as truly shown in the music video where she switches from completing housework to running the White House. I love the strings and catchy beat included in this song and her vocals scream classic Ariana.

The two songs left on the album, “Obvious” and “POV,” were alright, but nothing special. I did, however, appreciate the call for self-love and messaging in “POV” and thought it was a very fitting end to the album.

So, yet again, Grande took a trip outside the genre box and came up with a fairly successful album. Her fans will have more than enough music to digest and dissect, and I, for one, thought that the songs were full of strong, feminine vibes.