The songstress is back with a raunchy albeit disappointing new record.
Ariana Grande has firmly established herself as an icon of 21st century pop, a leading lady of the music industry. After the record breaking year she had with Thank U, Next (of which I am a massive fan), pop goddess Grande has made a highly anticipated return with Positions, a new album oozing with seduction and provocation. Grande has loosened her ponytail and broke free from her cutesy girl-next-door image trading it for something sexier.
However, I feel that Grande has slightly missed the mark with this new record. Thank U, Next was always going to be a tough act to follow therefore expectations were soaring but Positions was a disappointment for me. Vocally, it’s stunning. ‘Off The Table’ with The Weeknd is a stand out for me, in which she laments an ex-lover, asking if love is still a possibility; Grande and The Weeknd’s voices blend so beautifully together. In ‘Hair’, she flaunts the whistle register she is known for, making it one of the most vocally impressive songs on the record. However, lyrically, the album feels unnatural for her. It’s hard to decipher whether this new sexy yet vulnerable side has gotten lost or if this style just doesn’t suit her. Raunchy tracks like ‘34+35’ (I’m sure you can do the math) leave little to the imagination as she gives us the details of her bedroom antics. It’s admittedly catchy but lyrics like ‘Baby, you might need a seatbelt when I ride it’ make you cringe upon a first listen (or gasp in disbelief like I did).
Apart from that, the rest of the songs are virtually indistinguishable. It pains me to say it but the album is boring. The record feels meaningless and if there is any intended emotion in any of these songs, I certainly can’t feel it. Sex is the inarguable focal point of the record but not in an empowering way; it feels as though she has written sexual lyrics and performed these provocative tracks for the sake of doing so. It’s unnatural, forced and it makes you question whether the pop princess should stick to what she knows and what evidently works. Perhaps she should retire this sexy new-found sound and leave it to those who do it best. Ultimately, Positions falls flat, more prominently so after following the monumental success of her previous album. I was hoping Grande would continue to ride this wave of pop domination but unfortunately, it misses the mark.
Positions is available to listen to now via Republic Records. Check out ‘off the table’ down below.