After her fifth studio album made up of entirely breakup songs, where is a successful young artist like Ariana Grande to turn? She’s obviously turned to the exact opposite direction: complete and utter sex appeal.
The album, released under the label Republic, is the sixth-studio album from the American singer. The album was carried primarily two singles, “Positions,” and “34+35” released prior to the album itself. The album features 14 tracks each of approximately three minutes each, encompassing just more than 41 minutes. The album also features guest appearances by other pop artists such as Doja Cat, The Weeknd, and Ty Dolla Sign.
It should be made completely clear: Ariana Grande is an incredibly versatile artist and can do the light, more family friendly popular culture-type stuff very easily, but when she goes full force into the more adult themes of love and sex, she truly shines. Her penchant for song writing is a force like no other, maybe only compared to Taylor Swift in the modern era. The album doesn’t teach us anything different about Grande. She’s always had a skill for suggestive wordplay penning hits such as “Imagine” and “Side to Side.” Her signature light voice hasn’t changed however. Her sound is still just as athletic and playful as we know and love.
The opener of the album, “Shut Up” is a really stellar opening. It’s like the opening of a grand symphony and the opening of the track tries to replicate this mentality. It begins with a luscious string opening, and unlike many other pop tracks that feature strings, Grande keeps the strings busy, although I’m sure the strings (and myself) would appreciate a slightly longer opening. The album quickly picks up into “34+35.” In this track, Grande employs the strings again, only with much more action. This track has an interesting lyrical contrast with the music, as she describes intimate sexual acts while singing like a Disney princess. The tracks on the album have a uniform approach, and don’t stick out too much individually. This is definitely not a bad thing, but it does cause some tracks to get lost in the jumble.
Unlike similar provocative albums, Grande’s album doesn’t provoke a shock-and-awe reaction as wholeheartedly as “Positions.” This is a perfect testament to the phenomenon in the music industry where the aesthetic of a track is sometimes more important than the actual content. Artists may have perfectly kosher subject material, but the musical material is either too harsh or too bland. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the package may be just fine, but the subject material is just too harsh still. Grande doesn’t suffer from this issue thankfully, employing the sounds of R&B and trap music to propel her music to a sizeable chunk of the airwave real estate.
Ultimately, “Positions” is the perfect album to listen to when acting with a consenting partner or just to jam to in the car. It’s striking rhythmic energy creates the perfect momentum for any activity. Positions receives an A-rating.