Ariana Grande’s new album is a mediocre switch in positions
By Mead Gill, Copy & Online Editor
A month ago Ariana Grande gifted the popular music scene with her sixth studio album “Positions,” sending music critics and Arianators around the world into a state of excitement. Veering away from her trauma-induced emotions presented in her 2019 album “thank u, next,” Grande decided to take a more lighthearted approach to songwriting. “Positions” is 14 tracks filled with romance, relationships, and lots of sex. Though there is nothing wrong with sensual music, Grande’s repetitive style and lyricism hold back this good album from being great.
On the opening track “shut up,” the focal point is Grande’s impressive vocal acrobatics, addressing her negative publicity and improved outlook on life. The album is sprinkled with highlights, including the title track which features plucky strings and a dynamic trap beat. The lyric “switching in positions” refers to Grande’s shift in both her role in a relationship as well as in the bedroom, making it one of the many sexual innuendos scattered across the album.
“my hair” is a song about (you guessed it) Grande’s iconic hairdo. This bop continues the album’s seductive theme, and sounds like something that fans will surely be singing their hearts out to in the shower for years to come. The chorus hits with such vocal power, it sounds like a tune that Aretha Franklin would have belted out back in the 60’s. Grande blessed listeners with her remarkable whistle tones in the last leg of the track, which are undeniably impressive.
The R&B influence is also clear on the closing track “pov.” One of the more emotional tunes, Grande wears her heart on her sleeve, wishing that she could see herself the way her significant other sees her. This message is both impactful and relatable as just about anyone who has romantic experience has felt the same way.
Even with its notable highlights, it is impossible to ignore how many songs left much to be desired. The track “34+35,” arguably the most risque of the tracklist, delivers a sub-par chorus that is levels below the catchiness of many Grande songs in the past.
“off the table (with The Weeknd)” feels more like a bunch of half-written vocal lines scrambled over a naked instrumental that lacks any ounce of substance. Both singers offer reasonable vocal performances, yet they fail to translate their talent to something as memorable as their 2014 collaboration “Love Me Harder.”
Another dud, the track “nasty” offers absolutely nothing that the other provocative songs have not already. The generic high hats and the distorted repetition of the word “nasty” is difficult to listen to in comparison with the many bangers on the album. The rest of the album seemed to get lost in a sea of mildly catchy hooks, all extremely listenable but not representative of Grande’s full potential as an artist.
Upon its release, “Positions” garnered mixed reactions from the media. Many argue that the album is too erotic for young listeners, and that young girls should not be exposed to such lyrical content. Sexual songs, especially from female artists, do not deserve critique just for being sexual. Male artists have written sexually charged songs for decades without significant backlash, and female artists deserve the same. Sex is a part of life, and artists should be encouraged to write about their lives as unfiltered as possible.
With this in mind, “Positions” should be criticized not for it’s deeply sexual connotations, but for Grande’s average musicality and songwriting. It is known that she is talented, but “Positions” was a small step in the wrong direction.