• Darby VanDeVeen

‘positions’ lacks sparkle, but is still an enjoyable Ariana Grande album

"positions shows the three facets that Grande has found to be most successful with in her songwriting: love, sex and success.”

Ariana Grande surprised fans with a new single, music video and album all in the span of two weeks at the end of this October. After her quarantine collaboration with Justin Bieber and her release of thank u, next in early 2019, fans were delighted to see Grande teasing new music on Instagram throughout the summer.

positions shows the three facets that Grande has found to be most successful within her songwriting: love, sex, and success. Raunchier songs like “34+35” and “nasty” give listeners an intimate look into her bedroom, while songs like “pov” and “love language” showcase the softer side of Grande’s love life. The one theme that remains constant throughout positions is her bubbly outlook on life, and that after experiencing tragedy and trauma, we can all heal again.

“All these demons helped me see shit differently/So don’t be sad for me” she sings on the sweeping opener “shut up” that puts her haters to rest. This new blissed-out look on life is most clearly seen in “just like magic” a bright song detailing the singer’s day while showing how effortless it is for her (in a similar way to “7 rings”). Positions finds Grande in a comfortable and happy place, which is reflected on the record.

Trap-pop production and simple lyricism with semi-clever punchlines are what comes naturally to her and she doesn’t seem to take any risks on this album. Features with Doja Cat and Ty Dolla $ign are enjoyable but do nothing to showcase a new era of Ariana Grande. In fact, the positions era feels like an extension of thank u, next with a slight relation to fourth-studio album sweetener. Fans of Ariana are sure to love this album, as it takes what works and uses it again. A collaboration with the Weeknd also enhances the album with “off the table,” which looks at feeling guilty for moving on from a relationship.

Vocally Ariana is strong as always, showcasing her impressive whistle tones on the outro of “my hair” and leading into “nasty.” Lyrically, it’s simple and shallower than thank u, next which comes as the sacrifice of becoming more sexually explicit in her work. However, the closing track “pov” sees Grande wondering what it would be like to see herself from someone else’s point of view. “I wanna trust me/The way that you trust me/Ooh, cause nobody ever/Loved me like you do.” This depth is welcome after the opening two songs that barely scratch the surface of what Ariana is capable of producing.

Overall, this was a solid and cohesive Ariana Grande album but lacks the sparkle that has made her past work so successful. There are some great tracks that are sure to be fan favorites and it is clear that Grande is sure to track her growth over her career.


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