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Sweetener – Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande is back with her highly anticipated fourth studio album Sweetener. Two years after Dangerous Woman released, Ariana is here to spread positivity and joy through new music. “It’s called Sweetener because it’s kind of about bringing light to a situation or to someone’s life…” dished the songstress on Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show. And with three hit singles already gracing the charts, miss Grande shows no signs of slowing down, which is the positivity Arianators love to hear. From the up-beat, exuberant tracks to the slow R&B-inspired jams, there are songs on this album for everyone. And as a 4th album, Grande shows off her creative and fun side while maintaining that powerhouse yet angelic voice that we all love.

Track by Track Review (Intro skipped)

Blazed ft. Pharrell Williams:
produced by Pharrell Williams

Once I have you, I will never let you go.”

Blazed, while over-produced, is a decent opener for Sweetener. Rhythmically, it feels a little lost, but Ariana’s voice glides from the verses through the chorus that helps balance the erratic nature of the background instrumentals. Still, it sets the tone for the album and provides a jubilant energy that captivates the message that Grande wants to convey – and that is positive, fun vibes. 2.5/5

The Light is Coming ft. Nicki Minaj:
produced by Pharrell Williams

“The light is coming to get back everything the darkness stole.”

As the second single released from Sweetener, The Light is Coming would surely continue Ariana’s upward momentum. Arguably the most different (production-wise) from the rest of the up-beat tracks, the song feels entirely experimental. However, with its video-game sounds, catchy chorus and fun lyrics from Nicki Minaj, it’ll be hard to get this song out of your head. 3/5

R.E.M:
produced by Pharrell Williams

“Before you speak, don’t move ’cause I don’t want to wake up”

Of all the tracks on the album, R.E.M. is the most effortless. Its sweet melody and simple lyrics- accompanied by Ariana’s beautiful tone- usher in feelings of tranquility and happiness after falling in love. And this time around, producer Williams keeps it simple and lets the song speak for itself, which feels like a dream. 4/5

God is a Woman:
produced by Ilya

“When it’s all said and done, you’ll think that God is a woman.”

The first track produced by Ilya and the third music video released, God is a Woman is a winner. The catchy song bears seductive lyrics and a smooth beat that is sure to become a favorite of 2018. And with gorgeous harmonies and flawless ad libs in the outro, Ariana will surely have you believing not only that God is a Woman, but that she personally sent Ariana to bless us with those vocals. 5/5

Sweetener:
produced by Pharrell Williams

“When life deals us cards, make everything taste like it is salt – then you come through like the sweetener you are to bring the bitter taste to a halt.”

After a couple of listens, the album reaches its creative peak with Sweetener. There’s the beautiful message about how someone can brighten up your life; and Grande’s intentions are exactly that with this song. It’s catchy and flavorful with its hip-hop backdrop, yet the varying tempo throughout offers a classical pop sound that will surely make this a fan favorite. It’s HOT! 5/5

Successful:
produced by Pharrell Williams

“It feels so good to be so young and have this fun and be successful.”

Of all the songs on Sweetener, Successful is the least creative, and it feels like it doesn’t belong on the album. The lyrics are mundane and features a boastful attitude from Ariana that doesn’t offer anything new to her discography. Still, it’s nice to hear Grande revel in her success because it’s well deserved, though pairing these words with a vocal magnum opus would’ve been better for everyone. 2/5

Everytime:
produced by Ilya and Max Martin

“I get drunk, pretend I’m over it. Self-destruct, show up like an idiot. Why, oh Why does God keep bringing me back to you?”

Everytime feels like classic Ariana Grande with her smooth pop vocals rupturing through the enjoyable beat. It’s a song that many fans can relate to as it centers around trying to escape the hold that someone (or something) may have over you, but to no avail. Production-wise, it’s not as ambitious as the others, but that’s a strength, and it’s one that old fans can enjoy if they’re not into Ariana’s new sound. 4/5

Breathin:
produced by Ilya

“Time goes by, and I can’t control my mind.”

This is it. Breathin is the best track on the album, plain and simple and from every standpoint. For one, the song deals with the relatable feelings of finding your way up and out of the darkness whether it be from an old relationship, mental health issues, trauma – anything. Additionally, Ariana’s vocals, which have been the most consistent thing about the album, are strong and pair beautifully with the message. The beauty of it all is that it’s uplifting even though it deals with heavy connotations of struggling. But if you just keep “breathing,” things will get better. 5/5

No Tears Left to Cry:
produced by Max Martin and Ilya

We’re way too fly to partake in all this hate.”

No Tears Left to Cry is perfectly placed at #10 and after Breathin. This is what the album is about – forgetting about the negativity and moving on with only positivity. Lyrically, it’s a simple song; but it’s a special characteristic because sometimes life calls for simplicity when our burdens become too hard to bear. And when you’re all out of tears to cry, what better way to move on than to pick it up and turn out to this song? 🙂 5/5

Borderline ft. Missy Elliott
produced by Pharrell Williams

“Baby, I just want you to be mine. Won’t you give me a bit of your time?”

Seeing Missy Elliott as a feature on a song is enough to get any music fan excited. However, Borderline is nothing special and, quite frankly, boring. The lyrics are dull and the production, once again, feels out of place yet repetitive. I’m sure some will like this, but it feels lazy even under its distracting beat due to its banal lyrics. 2/5

Better Off:
produced by Brian Malik Baptiste, Tommy Brown and Hitboy

“And if we’re being honest, I rather your body than half of your heart.”

Better Off is one of Ariana’s best songs, vocally. Her tone is unmatched as she soars through the verses and chorus with a soulful sound that is subtle yet rich with emotion. The track, produced by Baptiste, Brown & Hitboy gives an R&B vibe that fans will come to appreciate against Grande’s angelic tone. 4/5

Goodnight n Go:
produced by Tommy Brown, Charles Anderson and Michael Foster

“Lately, all I want is you on top of me. You know where your hands should be.”

There’s nothing particularly terrible or spectacular about Goodnight n Go; it just exists. One of its highlights, however, are the words that exude passion, temptation and seduction. It’s a mature song, sure, but at 25, Ariana shows that she is ready to continue growing as an artist both vocally and lyrically. 2.5/5

Pete Davidson:
produced by Charles Anderson and Tommy Brown

“Universe must have my back. Fell from the sky into my lap. And I know you know that you’re my soulmate.”

The shortest track on the album, Pete Davidson is a tribute to Ariana’s fiance. The song sounds genuine and is a nice addition as it demonstrates how happy she truly is to have someone like him by her side. With PD, you can’t help but feel excited for her. 3/5

Get Well Soon:
produced by Pharrell Williams

“I’ll be there. I don’t care who is gone, you shouldn’t be alone.”

Sweetener ends perfectly with Get Well Soon. From the lyrics and production to Ariana’s excellent delivery of notes, it feels like the true winner of the album. The sweet yet strong piano background ruptures through and stands out as the importance of being there for someone is conveyed. It’s as if Ariana is directly singing to the listeners, and Arianators around the world will connect to her even more with this one. 5/5

Once again, Ariana Grande proves that she’s an ever-growing artist that can win you over with her voice, alone. Sweetener is a body of work that screams experimentation with several misses, sure; but overall, fans will be excited about her new era as she continues to give outstanding  pop hits and only improves as time goes on. Ultimately, the album will get better with every listen, but one thing that will remain is Ariana’s incomparable talent.

 

Categories: All Reviews, Music

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