Photo Credit: Alexi Lubomirski/ELLE
Ariana Grande is one of those artists who have created a catalog of great commercial music throughout the years. Her new album Sweetener is exactly that, Sweet pop, just with a tad bit more added sex appeal. The fifteen-track studio LP that is the follow up to her 2016 smash Dangerous Woman, is the fourth official release from the former Nickelodeon beauty. Grande’s artistic progression is obvious from the very opening of the CD’s intro track “Raindrops”, where she shows off her vocal chops on a brief but beautifully sang two-part vibrato. Merely from that, you can already see why she has drawn comparisons style wise, to a young Mariah Carey (Whom she has previously cited as one of her biggest influences).
Popular singles “God Is A Woman” and “No Tears To Cry” have already been burning up the Billboard charts thus far. However, those two songs are just some of the highlights on the album considering Grande’s vocals shine the entire way through. For example, the album flows from mid-tempo R&B tracks like the standout “The Light Is Coming” with good friend rap diva Nicki Minaj, whom she seems to have great chemistry with musically. She effortlessly belts out on the chorus: “The light is coming to give back everything the darkness stole.” Then she teams up with Missy Elliot on the very sensual and seductive “Borderline” boasting playfully: “Once you tastin’ my ice cream / I bet you won’t ever leave / I know it’s hard to believe / Boy, you got me all on my knees.”
Elsewhere, “Blazed” is a love ballad featuring super producer Pharell Williams. He also lends a hand with his flawless production skills on the empowering “Get Well Soon” in which the pop star went on to explain was not only a tribute to the victims of the shooting at her Manchester concert in the summer of last year, but also “a way of healing for her peace of mind.” Adding, “I just wanted to do something to make people feel good and less alone.”
Other highlights include the empowering and uplifting track “Breathin” and the catchy bass booming “R.E.M.” (Which actually samples an unreleased Beyoncé track titled “Wake Up”). Grande rolls in like a savage on the unvarnished “Better Off” boasting: “I’m better without him / I’m better off being a wild one / On the road a lot, had to keep it a thousand / So that I’m better off not being around ya.”
Then on the album’s title track “Sweetener”, she sticks to her cute and standard pop style as she croons: “I like the way you lick the bowl”, seems like Miss Grande is all grown up, yes? Elsewhere on Sweetener songs like “Successful” and “Everytime” are average at best but seem to fit the bill just fine.
All in all, the album is a solid effort and by far her very best vocal wise. Grande seems to have come into her own on this project, making it her most impressive yet. Already certified platinum, the album has been extremely well received, therefore marking Sweetener Grande’s third number one album of her so far impeccable career. It is as if she has finally found where she needs to be artistically and she absolutely shows it. Sweetener is a fun, engaging, seductive thrill ride, and even if you aren’t a fan, she sure provides a great case this time around to make you one.