Credit: Ariana Grande, Youtube via New Yorker

Review: Positions by Ariana Grande

By Holly Jennings

Ariana’s Nickelodeon days and her Cat Valentine persona are well and truly dead and buried, as she releases her sexually charged sixth album positions. Editor-in-Chief Holly Jennings takes a look at Ariana’s latest work; including her slightly disappointing collab with the “unofficial king of sex music” The Weeknd and wonders – is positions a sexy sensation? Or is it an anti-climax?

There has been a jump in pace for Ms Grande with her sixth album release, as she transitions from opening up about dealing with ex-boyfriend Mac Miller’s death in ghostin’, to allegedly discussing pegging her new boyfriend in positions – a win for GU boys at least? Musically, the album builds on what we have seen of late from Ariana; RnB infused with trap, accompanied by her breathy voice and that strange-but-enjoyable Wii music sound from sweetener. However, the album plays it relatively safe, producing toe-tapper after toe-tapper without any sign of those power ballads signature of Ariana.

Ultimately, the album is fun. 34+35, which it admittedly took me until the end of the song to understand, radiates the same energy as WAP and Pussy Talk: women confidently talking about sex, a 2020 trend I hope doesn’t end anytime soon. Any ideas of the innocent pop star we knew from Victorious or Yours Truly are reimagined as she asks to “Fuck her until the daylight“, then on nasty, declaring “I just want to make time for you / Swear it’s just right for you / Like this pussy designed for you“. 

Her eponymous single, positions, is her best work from the album, even if you don’t have a clue what she’s saying – credit to whoever at Genius had to work that out. A close second for best track is just like magic, reminiscent of the attitude she offered in thank u, next and successful. Ariana powers through morning meetings and mediations to offer some motivation we all need in the middle of the semester, “read a fucking book“, which hits hard as I write this on level 9 of the library looking at my untouched pile of dissertation reading. love language and shut up also reinforce her boss bitch narrative, as Ariana demands her lover to “Treat it just like Givenchy (Givenchy), it’s expensive to taste / Ain’t no need to remind ya, it’s AG in your face“.

Off the back of Doja Cat’s success and the boppy nature of the track, it would be unsurprising to see motive be released as the next single of the album. The contrast between Doja’s crackly verse and Ariana’s voice that floats above the chorus makes Ariana’s vocals seem weightless. Whilst not Doja’s finest, it certainly shows Ariana’s strengths.

The greatest disappointment in the album lies in Ariana’s collab with The Weeknd. Princess of pop’s sex album meets the unofficial king of sex music? You’d think that song would be powerful enough to cause a swipe surge on Tinder. Especially following Love Me Harder, undoubtedly one of Ariana’s greatest collabs to date, what could go wrong? Well, off the table apparently. This song desperately wants to blend the sound of The Weeknd’s Trilogy with the emotional depth of ghostin’ or better off, but instead offers a track with a bit of a soggy bottom. off the table is sure to kill any erection.

my hair and six thirty fight for the title of worst track of the album. The latter lured me into a false sense of security for the first 39 seconds until Ariana repeats the phrase “Are you down?” 23 times in the remaining 144 seconds of the song. The sentiment brings to mind Donkey asking Shrek “Are we there yet?”, with Shrek and I getting equally as irritated. However, my hair takes the crown for worst, as Ariana sings about her signature ponytail, asking her lover: “Come run your hands through my hair / Ooh, baby, so don’t you be scared“. It’s not her most creative moment. Despite her lyrical blunders on both songs, what is most frustrating is the musical capability evident in them; the seductive rhythm of my hair and silky vocals of six thirty makes you wonder what might have been. 

Beneath the sex appeal of the album, lies a core of vulnerability. I recently read a tweet that said: “You’re allowed 2 minutes of sadness then you gotta keep it gangsta.” If this doesn’t sum up every Ariana Grande album, I don’t know what does. pov lays her insecurities bare, echoing the feelings of anyone entering a new relationship who’s been hurt in love before. In safety net, Ty Dolla $ign supports the track as she attempts to find peace amongst her anxiety about entering a new relationship. Ultimately, trauma underpins her tracklist, as it does much of the musician’s work, but she continues to prove it won’t be stopping her from anything – including getting her hole.

Whilst her sixth album wasn’t what we needed (but probably what we deserved) this album will undeniably be soundtracking my winter – as it always goes with Ariana, her songs live in my head rent-free. At least releasing a sex album in the middle of a pandemic will surely create good business for LoveHoney.

Top track: positions

Rating: 6/10


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