Ariana Grande’s “Positions” surprises fans with new sound

Photo courtesy of Lindsay Neilson Photos, Flickr

Ariana Grande’s sixth studio album, “Positions,” was released this Friday, Oct. 30. The album resonated more with her R&B roots, which resulted in mixed opinions from fans.

The album’s single and title track “positions” tops the charts with 75 million streams on Spotify. While this single is definitely pop, the rest of the album has vocals and rhythm in focus.

Fans of her fourth album, “Sweetener,” are bound to love “Positions.” However, those that favor the “thank u, next” and “Dangerous Woman” eras will notice the lack of radio pop beats, and they have already expressed disappointment in Grande’s new sound.

What many fail to realize is the symbolic importance of this album, as “Positions” is the peaceful yet sexy compilation that took years for Grande to release. 

“Sweetener” and “thank u, next” focus on love, loss and the traumas that the singer has experienced in the past few years. From the Manchester bombing, to the death of her ex-boyfriend Mac Miller, to calling off her engagement with “SNL” comedian Pete Davidson, Grande’s life has been a whirlwind of heartbreak. “Positions” is her album of self-acceptance, as she focuses on new love, inner peace and sexual discovery.

A standout track on the album is “34+35” which, while cheesy in name, is the epitome of the sensual tone heard throughout each track. The upbeat energy has been absent from past albums, and the lyrics complemented by Grande’s voice are nothing short of a vibe. Being the second song on the album, Grande wants listeners to know that she is not scared to perfectly balance on the line between classy and erotic.

Even with features such as Doja Cat and The Weeknd, who are singers that are not afraid to get explicit in their own lyrics, Grande is able to maintain a sophistication in her art. 

Grande still is willing to get emotional on this record, as seen in the final song, “pov.” Perhaps the strongest song in the collection, “pov” notes on Grande’s insecurities and how she wishes she could see herself from a different perspective.

“You love my lips 'cause they say the / Things we've always been afraid of / I can feel it startin' to subside / Learnin' to believe in what is mine,” Grande sings in the second verse. The song continues into the impactful chorus:

“I wanna love me / The way that you love me / Ooh, for all of my pretty and all of my ugly too / I'd love to see me from your point of view.”

Grande’s “Positions” is a nearly flawless approach to discussions of inner peace and pleasure. Mixing R&B with pop undertones with each track perfectly elevated the singer’s four octave range, and each lyric, while playful and funny at times, was placed and written with meaning. This album presents true growth in her career, and it is what many of us needed to end 2020 off on a high note — or a whistle note, if you’re Grande.

5/5 stars

 

ddeange1@ramapo.edu