It took just three years for Ariana Grande to become a prominent pop staple. On the Pharrell produced Sweetener, Ariana was starting to unravel her potential that is finally coming to light. With a vocal ability that’s wise beyond her genre, the songstress utilizes her strength to go against the grain. On her sixth studio album, Positions, Grande finally breaks free from the chains that were holding her back. At last, she finally sounds mature to take seriously, on a record where she takes herself less seriously.
Picking up where Thank U, Next left off, Ariana finds herself back at a similar territory. Inviting her clique of songwriters and producers for one more go, the singer sounds at home and is comfortable with opening up. Straight from the get go, album opener “Shut Up” unleashes an illusion of what to expect. Backed by strings and subtle goofiness, the song is unlike anything else on the album, yet finds her in demand in this erotica body of work.
“Can you stay up all night, fuck me to the daylight”, Ariana sings on the chorus to her next single “34+35”. With a clever title, the lyricism and her signature trap-infused pop production, the song is a blatant attempt to be over-sexualized for the sake of being sexual. But then again, it’s Ariana having fun, and taking things lightly. This then transitions into the most joyous moment on the album, “Motive”. On this late-night post club moment, the house inspired pop jingle, captures your full attention. Ariana asks “what’s your motive?” as Doja glides in with a “Say So” like approach.
Things then begin to travel into a slow motion reel, and it kicks off with the highly anticipated “Off The Table” with The Weeknd. The slow burner takes cues from 00s R&B collaborations that finds the two retracing their past relationships as they speak to one another as if they’re speaking to their past lovers. Not as lively as “Love Me Harder”, but it’s a luscious, candle-burning, cozy collaboration. But yet, the album’s most important moment is Ariana’s collaboration with Ty Dolla $ign on “Safety Net”.
On track number seven, Ariana comes into her own, sounding like the mature vocalist that she was destined to be. Ariana is no longer making music for just her fanbase, or for top 40, but now she’s making music for millennials who will finally take her seriously. At the last minute, the songstress harmonizes with Ty Dolla $ign on the climax of the album that will leave listeners in awe.
With a title like “My Hair” you really don’t know what to expect, but yet again, it’s a sexual, on the fence, throwback to the 00s anthems that impresses with a tribute to the whistle note. A fan favorite to come, “Nasty” is as the title suggests, “West Side” finds her way back to 00s R&B, while “Love Language” is nostalgic for ‘Sweetener’ fans as Ariana shines on a Neptunes-esque production.
Track 12 of course is the title track and lead single, and at this point of the album, it’s proof no other song had the “first single” potential. “Positions” lives up to the pressures of representing the album in all of its glory through its massive London On Da Track production. Finally, the album closes with the ballad every fan was waiting for with “POV”.
Positions finds Ariana Grande back into her comfort zone, her safe space in which she has fun in. For Ariana going against industry standards as a pop star who admits she wants to release music with no schedule like “rappers do”, she’s embracing releasing music with no pressures. Positions shines for the fact that it’s not an album critics expect Ariana Grande to make or to experiment on, instead, it’s the record where she finally evolves into the mature powerhouse that is just having fun, like every other twenty something.
At this moment in music, especially when tons of artists try to to be someone they’re not, Ariana Grande revives the experience of 00s R&B and pop, when things were once again, just fun — nothing more, nothing less.