Capri Scarcelli | arts & entertainment editor
Ariana Grande’s sixth studio album Positions, released on Oct. 30, has already been named number one on Billboard’s top charts and has garnered over 174 million streams on Spotify and Apple Music – and for good reason.
Grande is notorious for cranking out harmonies and teasing them along the way, but no one could have guessed an album was coming so soon.
This album is unique in the sense that it is her very own; I truly believe Grande has finally grown into her sound, style and literary voice in her artistry.
With that being said, let’s take it track-by-track.
The first track of the album,“shut up,” begins with an alluring acoustic plucking, transitioning to soft vocal riffs trickling down from Grande. This musically sophisticated background juxtaposes the lyrics, which, as Grande said in an interview with the Zach Sang Show, was meant to lightly bring up the negativity that the world surrounds itself in, wanting people to keep harmful opinions to themselves.
The second track, “34+35,” also makes great use of contrast between the backing and the lyrics, pairing fairy-like instrumentals and a simple backbeat to an otherwise suggestive mode of lyricism.
At first, I thought this song didn’t fit the album due to a lack of dynamic contrast, but the common thread in this album is a gentle, lulling flow that fades in and out from song to song.
Featuring female rapper Doja Cat, “motive” is more up-tempo, yet also shorter than the past two songs. This song gave me more of a “pop princess” vibe, going back into some of the simpler styles of her older works. Definitely catchy, and works as a good transition song.
In the first six seconds of “just like magic,” the synthesizer gave me an 80s vibe. However, Grande comes in with low, hip-hop vocals, which contrasted nicely with the beat. This song isn’t as memorable, but I did like the ending sequence.
However, “off the table” featuring The Weeknd stood out to me immensely. Grande and The Weeknd’s vocals blended so well from one verse to the next, with The Weeknd even making a reference to one of his prior works “The Hills,” in the lyrics. This song was slow, soulful and quite heartfelt, though still melted into the album as a collective whole.
The next song, “six thirty,” gave off the same energy as “shut up” and “34+35.” It was simplistic and repetitive lyrically, but Grande’s impressive riffs and lulling backbeat made the song evermore compelling. I liked how the song was written chromatically, making the song feel like a quaint daydream.
Featuring Ty Dolla $ign, “safety net” had a pulsing rhythm that both artists glided through effortlessly. I liked how the lyrical line was different from the backing, which allowed listeners to pay attention to the dynamic contrast even more. This one definitely caught my attention when first listening to it.
Next on the list, “my hair,” was easily my favorite. It was the first song that came on when I put Positions on shuffle, and it had my heart from the very first downbeat. It felt vintage and fresh at the same time. The song itself seems like a sweet gesture to a loved one, and it feels like the intimate moments of an old romance movie. Lyrically and vocally, this song was an absolute hit for this album, and I’m hoping it becomes a lead single on the radio. This song was added to my playlist within seconds, but it got even better when I heard Grande’s signature whistle-tone notes at the end that I’m sure her fans were waiting for, but were nevertheless awed by as much as I was.
On the other hand, “nasty” and “west side” I wasn’t as big of a fan of. I think they could have been put earlier in the album since they don’t stick out as much as the others. I liked the whispery vocals and contemporary pop beat, but they both felt more like filler songs.
Nothing was held back with “love language,” however. This song immediately starts off with an attention-grabbing trill, then slides into a jazzy rhythmic beat. Grande’s vocals are effortlessly smooth against the strong backbeat, really making the song pop. This was probably my second favorite; it stood out to me greatly.
The hit single of the album’s namesake, “positions,” was definitely a catchy chart-topper to represent the album. I think it really fit the direction that pop music is going, but still reminded me of Ariana Grande’s older works. I think the lyrics paired with the music video made for a stark symbol of woman empowerment, and she should be proud of that.
Next, I really liked the careful transitioning in “obvious.” She starts off soft and sweet, saying “I love the taste of you in the morning/Keep me warm and/Nothing else, nothing more important,” and then finishes out that short verse as the background kicks in with a steady, methodic beat. This song was great to put second-to-last, as it holds its own as a stand-alone song, yet still ushers toward a conclusion of the album as a collective piece.
Last but not least, “pov” was gentle, mellow, and felt like a fresh breath of air. Grande sings of how grateful she is for love, singing “I’d love to see me from your point of view.” This song felt complete; it seemed to wrap up the motifs throughout the album and set a tone that suggests that, with love, everything is going to be alright. Lyrically sound and astounding vocally, this track was heartfelt and honest, fading out with tender care.
As a whole, Positions grew on me in the time that I’ve shuffled through, and I am proud of Grande’s confidence in herself to put a collection of moments and memories that have true meaning to her. The transparency, yet careful juxtaposition of her “chill” vibe really melded wonderfully to make an album that is true to her.