Positions by Ariana Grande: An Album Review
October 30, 2020
Genre: Pop & RnB
After nearly two years since her record-breaking album, “thank u, next,” Ms. Ariana Grande has released her sixth studio album. So far, “Positions” has faced much criticism from fans who prefer her pop songs over the album's R&B stylings; and here’s why that’s absurd.
When listening to “Positions,” one finds it pertinently evident that this album is like nothing Grande has done before. While her talent has never faltered, the musical stylings, storyline, and overall vibe of the song collection are simply a new version of Ariana, in comparison to the aesthetics of her past albums.
Back in late August of 2018, Grande dropped her fourth album, “Sweetener.” At the time, she was briefly engaged to SNL comedian Pete Davidson. However, after their tumultuous breakup following the fatal overdose of Grande’s ex-boyfriend rapper, Mac Miller, Grande experienced loss like she never had before. While she was able to capitalize on this in “thank u, next,” her pain and suffering is very obvious on the majority of the album’s tracks, such as “ghostin,” “fake smile,” and “in my head."
Yet despite the singer’s past misfortunes, Grande’s newest album tells a new addition to her story. Diving right in, “Positions’” opening track “shut up” quite simply tells her audience, “If you have nothing constructive to say about me, my music, you can either shut up or leave.” Backed by the gorgeous stylings of violins, harps, and cellos alike, “shut up” introduces Ariana’s frank attitude, unafraid to make her feelings apparent to anyone in her way while maintaining her elegant demeanor. This elegance is one that remains throughout the entirety of “Positions,” further melding her sophisticated image with a vulnerable look into her growth since “thank u, next.” The next two songs (“34+35” and “motive”) feature a similarly blunt tone with Grande unafraid to tackle sexual themes in a relaxed manner.
Grande’s story truly begins with “just like magic,” where she embraces the idea that she can achieve anything she wills, as a preface of some sort to her fairytale recovery. The subsequent track, “off the table,” delves into Ariana’s fear that she may never love again after the traumatic loss of the individual whom she believed to be her soulmate. Nevertheless, “six thirty” details her interest in a new love, doubting her suitor’s devotion. The same can be said about “safety net,” expressing Grande’s fear of being abandoned by another lover. Yet, her fears quickly subside as Grande lets her guard down in “my hair” and finally commits herself to Dalton (her current boyfriend) in “obvious.” And with “pov,” Grande closes “Positions” longing to see herself the way Dalton does, in adoration.
Now, the album is quite slow. Period. There is no denying that. Believe me when I say that I was disappointed when I found out that the majority of the album is not meant for the Hot 100. This is a complete shift from her previous albums, focused around multiple widely popular singles, such as “thank u, next,” “Dangerous Woman,” “Problem,” and others. Due to this change in Ariana’s musical stylings, it is easy to understand why those who became fans during the “thank u, next” era were disappointed. However, when delving into the album, the message becomes increasingly apparent. What may seem to be a continuous loop of strings and whistle tones to anyone unfamiliar with Grande’s work, can only be described as a masterpiece by those who know and love Ms. Grande and understand why the album is formatted the way it is: to heal. ‘Positions’ is a deep breath with which Grande collects herself after the torment of her ex-lover’s death and extremely public break up with another love. Breathe. Listen. Enjoy.
Personal Top 3: pov, 34+35, my hair
Personal Bottom 3: just like magic, obvious, six thirty