After weeks upon weeks of cryptic teasers and curious hints, all mysteries have finally been unravelled with the release of Ariana Grande’s “Positions”. Serving as Ariana’s sixth studio album, “Positions” witnesses all the usual suspect: dreamy runs, simplistic songwriting and familiar themes.
The album nurses a good 14 tracks. This includes some star-studded features from the likes of The Weeknd, Ty Dolla $ign and Doja Cat. Now, while it’s always a delight to return for a second-helping of Ariana’s flawless vocals, whether this album offers anything new is a question that involves closer inspection.
So, we figured we’d kick things off by tackling Ariana’s collaborative efforts on this album. After heaping praises on Doja Cat earlier this year, the young star’s wish finally came true when they tied up on a sparkling new track. Titled, ‘Motive,’ the song boats of a disco-pop flavour, arriving with a husky rap verse, courtesy Doja Cat. Though, it’s worth noting that lyrics on this track are a bit dry, regurgitating familiar notions of lust and desire as Ariana is heard singing, “Tell me why I get this feeling/ That you really wanna turn me on/ Tell me why I get this feeling/ That you really wanna make me yours”.
Next up, Ariana recruited Ty Dolla $ign for the track, ‘Safety Net’. Interestingly, the chorus of the track is quite reminiscent of Chris Brown’s ‘No Guidance’. It follows similar melodies up until the climax – which is where ‘Safety Net’ truly comes to life. We get a full dose of stunning harmonies from Ariana and Ty. Despite this portion of the song being rather brief, it certainly gives the track a much-needed push.
Grande then joined forces with longtime collaborator, The Weeknd, for the track, ‘Off the Table‘. But unfortunately, this number proves to be the weakest of the lot. Featuring signature runs and pretty falsettos from both acts, the song drags on, sounding all too familiar and frankly a little monotonous.
‘Positions’ Ticks All The Expected Boxes
Now, diving headfirst into Ariana’s solo numbers, some tracks see her inching a toe past the confines of her comfort zone. While others simply mirror her previous work, both in terms of style and sound. The artist’s ‘Love Language,’ is a prime example of the latter. Despite adopting a quirky retro flavour, Ariana’s vocals land in all the familiar boxes.
And yet, tunes like ‘pov,’ see the star experiment with softer, more ambient sounds. Her vocals also shine brighter on this track as she sings of a lover, who knows her inside-out, accepting of the flaws she still struggles to come to terms with. The songwriting also arrives like a breath of fresh air, bringing a new take to ideas of self acceptance as she sings, “I wanna love me/ The way that you love me/ for all of my pretty/ And all of my ugly too/ I’d love to see me from your point of view”.
And yet, it feels like the album goes back into a rut, featuring a set of interchangeable songs like ’34 + 35,’ ‘Nasty’ and ‘Six thirty’. All three juggle between the same chords, featuring lyrics like – “Like this pussy designed for ya /Ten outta five on ya”. “So what you doing tonight?/ Better say, “Doin’ you right””. “And maybe that’s just how it’s supposed to be/ I’m the release, you the dopamine”. Yes, the lyrics you just read were from three separate songs.
While it’s always wonderful to have Ariana Grande back and buzzing in the music scene. This album still left a lot more to be desired. Time and time again, the young star has shown the world that she’s got some powerhouse vocals on her. But after all the hype surrounding “#AG6” the album’s made a rather quiet, frankly boring landing. We’re now well-versed with Ariana’s formula. And it looks like she’s getting far too comfortable, so perhaps it’s time she switches positions.
By: Nina Karun