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Ariana Grande exceeds expectations on ‘Sweetener’

| Tuesday, September 4, 2018

DOMINIQUE DeMOE | The Observer

“When raindrops fell, down from the sky
/ The day you left me, an angel cried.” These tantalizing lyrics, from “raindrops (an angel cried),” open Ariana Grande’s fourth full-length album entitled “Sweetener.” The long-awaited album had fans clinging onto every teaser since Grande’s last album, “Dangerous Woman,” was released in May of 2016. “Sweetener” contains 15 songs with features from artists such as Nicki Minaj and Pharrell Williams. Notable tracks include “no tears left to cry,” “god is a woman” and the highly anticipated “pete davidson.”

Grande kept the media’s attention through the promotion of her album via Instagram and Twitter where she would interact with fans and provide subtle hints about the album. For instance, on August 10 Grande posted a video on Twitter of her listening to “R.E.M” with the caption “one week :).” She also posted “sʎɐp ǝǝɹɥʇ on August 13 along with a photo of a “3” suspended in the clouds. This influx of Twitter interactions kept the media on their toes in anticipation for Grande’s fourth album.

Expectations were high as to whether Ariana could deliver with her fourth album, but I can confidently say she exceeded expectations. Grande saw success through the early release of “no tears left to cry” and the highly controversial “God is a woman.” The first release, “no tears left to cry,” begins with a slower tempo and showcases Ariana’s vocals — however, it picks up and quickly turns into an upbeat track with hints of the ‘90s pop that she is known for.

Listening to the song “successful,” I felt as if I was listening to the “Uptown Girl” soundtrack. This was in stark contrast to her previous album, “Dangerous Woman,” that had a more alternative rhythm and blues vibe. The diversity that Grande is able to display on “Sweetener” is fantastic.

Another song on the album in which Grande introduces an innovative sound is “get well soon.” Its ‘90s R&B element is accented by her falsettos, reminiscent of Mariah Carey. It reminds of my childhood, when I would listen to my mom’s old CDs in the car. Grande is able to fuse sounds from different genres from the past 20 years and create a unique sound that I have not heard before.

Probably the most popular release of the album, “God is a woman” includes a pop beat and stellar vocals from Grande. With lyrics like, “I tell you all the things you should know / So baby, take my hands, save your soul,” listeners are transported to another realm. Grande was able to put her listeners into a dream-like trance with the peaceful rhythm of “R.E.M,” which contains a chorus sampled from Beyonce. While the chorus was kept the same, Grande did put an excellent spin on the rest of the song.

Although fans were excited for the whole album, public intrigue ensued in particular over the song “pete davidson.” Ariana Grande officially confirmed that she was in a relationship with the “Saturday Night Live” comedian Pete Davidson on May 30 via a later deleted Instagram post — however, they had been rumored together since the beginning of the month. It was an even bigger shock to the public when Davidson officially confirmed their engagement on June 20 on “The Tonight Show.” The two have been on a whirlwind romance and the track “pete davidson” showcases how happy Grande with Davidson in her life.

While the song is only one minute and thirteen seconds long, she is able to express the emotions that she needs to. The simplicity of the lyrics make the song raw and heartfelt. Towards the end of the song, she repeats the line “I’ma be happy, happy,” an indication of her optimistic attitude. 

While the album is filled with great songs, some were met with criticism, such as “the light is coming,” which features Nicki Minaj. The track does have an awkward flow when it comes to the lyrics and the beat, and there is also an ominous voice yelling obscure phrases. 

In all, “Sweetener” was a solid album. Ariana Grande was able to solidify her position as one of the best artists of the decade. While there are awkward aspects to the album, it is still very good and it has definitely made it onto my Spotify playlist.

Artist: Ariana Grande

Album: ”Sweetener“

Label: Republic Records

Favorite Tracks: “breathin,” “an angel cried,” “sweetener”

If you like: The ‘90s, or being transported to another universe

Shamrocks: 4/5

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