Ariana Grande is a pop icon. There is no doubt about that. That is why her most recent album, Sweetener, has been anticipated for so long now. After the massacre at her concert in Manchester, many debated whether or not she would take a break from music. Lucky for us, the tragedy made Ariana stronger, helped her grow, and served as inspiration for her new perspective on life. Ari didn't let the hate get to her and decided to keep creating, and she delivered.
I will start by saying that this album was not what I was expecting. I wasn't a huge fan of her first single, "No Tears Left To Cry". It started to grow on me as it was played more on the radio. It had a techno, pop beat that was familiar to her sound, but some light rapping that wasn't so familiar. Needless to say, it was different.
She then released, "God Is A Woman". This is the Ariana I knew. Her feminist hit had the vocals I was looking for. Though this also had some light rapping or whatever one would call it, I was more on board with this single, because I felt as though she was really using her instrument. The acapella ending with her belting as high as she can including her whistle tone - that is what I wanted to hear. Not to mention the video was full of meaningful feminist metaphors, a Madonna cameo, and amazing imagery.
What I was expecting upon the release of this album were more songs like, "God Is A Woman". Hit after hit after hit. Like her last album, Dangerous Woman, she had many songs do well on the charts such as "Side to Side", "Into You", and "Dangerous Woman".
Like I said before, this album is just different. There are definite signs of her old sound in her music on this album, but it is clear that she wants to make a distinction between her albums, her sounds, or "eras" as fans like to call it.
The album opens with "Raindrops" which Ariana claims is a sample from an older song she loves. I love when an artist has a short intro song like this on their album to kind of set the tone. For example, Halsey has one of these on her Hopeless Fountain Kingdom concept album. This short, but sweet song shows off Ariana's voice and just gives you a sense of what you're about to hear on the album.
Then she has a song called, "Blazed" featuring famous producer, writer, and artist, Pharrell Williams. I wasn't a huge fan of this song. Don't get me wrong, I love a good collab, but I felt as though this was more of a Pharrell song than an Ariana song, and that didn't sit well with me. It was repetitive, not much of a change in melody and rhythm for that matter. But hey! It's always cool to collab with famous artists like Pharrell Williams right?
Then we have "The Light Is Coming" featuring Nicki Minaj. I LOVE when Nicki and Ari get together. "Side to Side", "Bang, Bang", both are absolute bops. I love the song they did on Nicki's album called, "Bed", however, I didn't share the same enthusiasm for the song on Ariana's. I love Nicki's verse, it fits the beat perfectly. Like I mentioned before there is a lot of light rapping, or talking, or maybe scatting? I'm not really sure what to call it, but I'm not a fan of it. The beat changes very abruptly in this song, and again, it just didn't feel like an Ariana song to me.
I feel the same way about her collaboration with Missy Elliot, "Borderline". Enough said about that - moving on:
"R.E.M" is the next track off the album. AGAIN this is a very rap heavy song for me. The whole song is basically this light rap, there is some singing in the chorus. One thing I do have to say about this album and the rapping is that you can tell she was very involved in songwriting. Her inspiration for this album seems to be her life after the Manchester Massacre, her old romance with Mac Miller, and her whirlwind romance with Pete Davidson, her current fiance. I like that in most of the lyrics there is a theme throughout the album, and "R.E.M." is the first song where I get a sense of what was driving the artist.
After "God is A Woman" which I have already mentioned, there is one of my favorites, "Sweetener". This song starts out with a melody that reminds me of her very very first album Yours Truly which, to me, seemed like it had a lot of old-timey, 50's-like inspiration to it. Then she jumps right in with some rap, back to singing, and so forth, which is why I think it's one of my favorites. I like that she incorporated some of her very old sound to a brand new sound to kind of help the adjustment for her fans. Or at least that's what I think she was trying to do. Maybe it's just me, but this song is what made me realize, okay Ariana wants to do something different here, I'm gonna hear her out.
It's light-hearted, but also has a sick beat when the post-chorus kicks in. It is one of my top five for this album.
Then there's "Successful." Honestly, I feel the same way about this song as I do "Sweetener". I find this one hilarious though because she literally says "I'm so successful" in between verses. Queen is very humble okay guys?
"Everytime" is just too trap for me. Kind of like "R.E.M.", grande tries very hard to bridge both her vocal abilities and her newfound love for rapping? Again, I still don't know what I should call it... I like this track better than "R.E.M.", but to me, the two felt more like a Jhene Aiko song than an Ariana song.
"Breathin'" is the star of this album. This is a true vocalist's song okay boo? This is an Ariana Grande hit by definition. Amazing verses, followed by a pre-chorus that builds so much anticipation for the chorus which perfectly sets up the chorus for some belting. I can hear the techniques in her singing the most in this song, which for a person who just is obsessed with everything music, is really amazing for me to hear. Her vibrato is consistent the whole time. Truly my favorite of the album. If you are an Arianator, you know that this song is just her.
Another one of my favorites is, "Goodnight N Go". The lyrics are so romantic and intimate. Again, my favorite songs are when she shows off her voice, and I feel as though her falsetto in this song is the most impressive thing I've ever heard. Also because I just know she could hit it live probably every night on tour. I love when she finishes a song with some sweet harmonies as well. Just warm, cute, and the least amount of rapping - this one is a gem.
"Pete Davidson" is also a very intimate, beautiful song. Very short (only a minute and 13 seconds), and kinda just sounds like her talking softly, it's not the best song on the album, but I think naming a song and dedicating it to someone you love is very beautiful and clearly meant a lot to her, which makes it special.
The last song is "Get Well Soon". I love this one. This underlying piano beat reminds me so much of her first popular single "The Way". Not much change in this song either in regards to melody rhythm, any of that, but I think it's the perfect wrap to the album in that it has this sweet layer underneath, and this new style she loves overlaying throughout the song while also including her voice in sample in between her chorus and verses. It's also just another song where I feel as though her voice is being showcased, and that's what I think Ariana fans look forward to the most.
My top five are:
2. Goodnight N Go
4. God Is A Woman
5. Get Well Soon
Overall, this album was consistent with its sound and style which I think is really important. It's a personal album, which fans love. It's new, fresh, and current, and I have no doubt it will do well. I don't love it as much as I loved her last album, but I can absolutely tell that this is the album that will put Ariana at the top and in her musical prime. I'd give a 7.5/10. Not that i have any professional input that actually matters...