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"Sweetener" Ariana Grande

by Joseph Massaro - Campus Talk Editor
Tue, Sep 4th 2018 10:00 pm

On Ariana Grande’s highly anticipated fourth studio album, “Sweetener,”  the singer brushes off her personal defeats, while climbing the ladder to happiness. Grande deeply evaluates herself on her strongest, and surprisingly most mature, pop opus yet. 

Having always been a success, whether it was acting or releasing sexy bubblegum pop,  it was the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing, at her own show, that really influenced her. Soon after Grande held the benefit concert, “One Love Manchester” she went back into the studio to start the next chapter in both her career and personal life. 

The opening track, “raindrops, an angel cried,” finds Grande delivering one of the most powerful vocal deliveries of the year, even if it is less than a minute-long. It then transitions into one of the finest songs on the album, “blazed,” which features the soulful Pharrell Williams, who is one of the greatest pop and R&B producers of our generation. Williams certainly played an influence on this track, even if his featured vocals are notably overshadowed by Grande’s. It is a perfect blend of the two genres Williams is best known for, as it features a clear drum pattern and a smooth Prince-esque groove. 

My personal favorite comes from a collaboration with Nicki Minaj, the queen herself, on the track “the light is coming”  Grande’s most interesting pop single. It samples an old CNN clip of a man shouting “You wouldn’t let anybody speak for this and instead!” at former Senator Arlen Specter at a town hall meeting in Pennsylvania in 2009. As it is strangely gripping,  and uniquely upbeat, thanks to its jumpy and seamless rhythm, lively drums and punchy synths. Just imagine Bill Murray’s character from “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” dancing and shaking his pretentious rump in a scuba suit to this . These are some of the best adjectives to describe one of the best pop songs to come out in recent years.

The most popular song off “Sweetener” is the lead single, of course. “God is a Woman” combines various genres, such as pop and reggae,  in an absolute banging pop single. Grande’s refined vocals steal the show once again. This track  also features a powerful female gospel choir, adding pure femininity and emotion on the standout single. 

Even though Grande has improved herself in the contemporary pop field, there are still some low moments on “Sweetener.” There are a few predictable and cliché moments, especially in Grande’s melodies on tracks such as “breathin” and “better off,” which both could have been left shelved. In general, the ending of this album is as weak as it is repetitive. Nonetheless, her vocal deliveries are still strong. 

Surprisingly, Grande, with the help of others, put together a really interesting pop album full of highlights. “Sweetener” is just more evidence showing how monumental of a pop figure Grande is in the music world. 

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