Ariana Grande - 'Sweetener' Album Review
Faced with releasing one of the most eagerly anticipated albums of the year, Ariana has not let us down. Sweetener is a prime of example of what makes Ariana Grande the new princess of pop.
ORIGINALITY7.5
LYRICS8
REPLAY VALUE8.6
INSTRUMENTATION7
IMPACT10
8.2Overall Score
Reader Rating: (2 Votes)
5.9

Following up an album as incredible as Ariana Grande’s last release Dangerous Woman would be a huge task at the best of times.

But paired with the struggles that she has faced over the last year, and what feels like every pair of eyes on earth watching her, creating Sweetener must’ve been an absolutely mammoth task.

From the tragedy of the Manchester bombing, to splitting with Mac Miller and then a new engagement to Pete Davidson, the princess of pop has had enough of an emotional rollercoaster to fill an entire discography.

Therefore, in the months running up to the release of Grande’s fourth album, it was hard to know what to expect. And the tasters we got while we waited only gave us slight hints.

The first single release No Tears Left to Cry indicated that Grande wasn’t about to step away from the powerful pop sound she is notorious for, and honestly, I couldn’t have been happier about it.

The lyrics manage to address the subject that the world obviously needed to hear about, in a radio friendly way. A lot of less experienced artists would have undoubtedly struggled.

The opening line “Right now I’m in a state of mind, I wanna be in like all the time” let the listener know that, as the title indicates, Ariana Grande has dwelled on the events of last year for long enough and now has ‘No Tears Left to Cry.’

When listening through the full album, you truly have to give Ariana credit on the choice to release this as the first single.

Had she not, assumptions would be made as to if she was simply going to leave the subject off of Sweetener. Simply stepping forward and acknowledging that it happened, but that she isn’t going to let it be the focus of the rest of her career is an insanely bold move and allows Grande to continue making music that she truly enjoys.

This, along with the dreamy production and strength of her vocals on the track highlight just how deserving Ariana is of her prestigious place in pop music, and how much she has grown as an artist – and as a person.

After this, we were given the Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande collab that is The Light is Coming.

TLIC is a huge step away from Grande’s usual sound, and while seemingly sticking with the theme of overcoming the darkness that she has experienced, it couldn’t be any more different than No Tears Left To Cry.

With CNN samples, alien-sounding synth and a choppy beat that is the complete opposite from the smooth sounds of the first single, it is truly a sound only Nicki and Ariana could pull off.

The final single released, God is A Woman, showcases everything Ariana does best. Deep, seductive, vocals with constant changes in pace that keep you on your toes throughout the song.

God Is A Woman is lyrically reminiscent of past Grande tracks Into You and Love Me Harder, yet also brings a whole new level of female empowerment to Ariana’s music. One that we didn’t even know we were missing. And, as a bonus, we are finally treated to the notorious Ariana high notes that were previously absent in the Sweetener singles.

The mix of moods, themes and experimental new sounds that we saw in these three tracks were the perfect foreshadowing for what was to come in Sweetener.

No two tracks from the album are the same, and for someone with a sound as established and recognisable as Ariana Grande, this is a huge step.

ariana-grande-sweetener

Ariana Grande – Instagram

Occasionally, this could be because the influence from other artists is so apparent. An example being the albums second track, Blazed, which both features and is produced by Pharrell Williams and has a sound that is so Pharrell it could’ve been kept for his own album.

However, other influences come from more suiting places. While R.E.M is also Pharrel-produced, the song was originally a Beyoncé track.

Grande has more than made the song her own, but the influence is still there in verses which are half-sung-half-spoken, in a Queen B-esque manner.

The result is an intimate R&B blend, which feels almost as though you are listening to Ariana read from her diary.

This is a common theme on Sweetener, which is seen again in Pete Davidson, Grande’s song for her fiancé.

The song is as sugary sweet as you would imagine a love song on an album called Sweetener would be, but hearing Ariana repeat “Gonna be happy, happy, I’ma be happy, happy” gives off a positive vibe, that is hard not to enjoy.

The album by no means lacks lighter, fun pop tracks such as Successful, which sees Grande give herself a well-deserved pat on the back. With lines like “Yeah, it feels so good to be so young, and have this fun and be successful,” it’s only a matter of time before this becomes a feel-good pre-drink anthem.

ariana breathin

Ariana Grande – Instagram

Track nine, Breathin, which is a standout, combines both this feel-good mood and the introspective darker side that is seen elsewhere on the album.

The lyrics describe Ariana’s struggle with anxiety attacks, while the impossibly infectious chorus send a encouraging message, a reminder to “Just keep breathin’ and breathin’ and breathin’ and breathin.”

Breathin isn’t just a shining example of Ariana at her best, it is an example of what makes pop music so important. It is taking a personal situation, albeit a negative one, and turning it into three minutes of instruments and vocals that hundreds of thousands of people can use to escape into.

This is a point which I think Sweetener proves in its entirety. Even after the hardships thrown at her, Ariana Grande has produced an album, which despite the themes included, is fun to listen to and can easily be left on repeat for the rest of the month.

And that is exactly what I will do.

Listen to Sweetener, here:

Featured Image Credit: Ariana Grande, VEVO

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