I LISTENED TO ARIANA GRANDE FOR THE FIRST TIME
Ariana Grande is one of the biggest pop stars in the world. With four number one albums, five Hot 100 number one songs, and a plethora of awards, she’s come a long way since her days as Cat Valentine on Victorious. But I would be lying to you, my illustrious reader, if I said she makes frequent appearances on my personal playlists.
Before the Arianators come for my head, I’ve heard the big songs! Radio hits like “Thank U, Next,” “God is a woman,” and “Dangerous Woman,” all BOPS. “7 rings” was kind of whack, but I’m not here to discuss that unpopular opinion. I’m here because for the first time, an Ariana Grande project was released and I listened to it the second it was available on Apple Music. Then I listened to it again. And again. And a fourth time for good measure.
I’m talking, of course, about Positions, Ariana Grande’s third album in two years. From the jump, I loved Ariana’s energy throughout the project. The passion and emotion on tracks like “shut up,” “safety net,” and “love language” is so raw and genuine.
She’s been through a tough road in recent years that included a devastating mass shooting at one of her concerts, the death of her ex-boyfriend and frequent music collaborator Mac Miller, and a broken engagement to SNL cast member Pete Davidson. Having navigated these tragedies with a certain sense of grace, Positions shows Grande working through all of these emotions in a search for peace.
One of the things that really jumped out at me about this project was how raunchy some of it is. From the not-so-subtle “34+35” to the sensual jams like “my hair” and “nasty,” Grande appears to be regaining comfort and confidence as she continues to wrestle with her tribulations.
Throughout the project, Grande contemplates the struggle to piece yourself together and the fear of re-learning how to trust and love. These moments of tension are offset by spurts of hope. “motive” is a more upbeat jam with fire instrumentals from Murda Beatz and a solid feature from Doja Cat. The last track “pov” is simply *chef’s kiss*.
The songs on Positions aren’t grandiose or revolutionary by any means, but I feel like that’s not what this album is about. I’ve always lauded artists and creators for using their art as therapy for their experiences and emotions, and this project is no different. Ariana Grande made this album to allow herself to heal.
There’s bits of hesitancy, fear, grief, glee, and hope all coupled together to perfectly capture the begging and bargaining that comes along with healing. While the individual tracks on Positions still might not end up on my personal playlists, the album as a whole is a strong contender to land on my Albums of the Year list.
Dom Maiorca is a writer and filmmaker from Los Angeles, CA. He graduated from UCLA where he studied Psychology and Film & TV while contributing frequently to The Paper Mixtape, an independent student-run magazine. He loves talking about music and movies and is always looking for new recommendations for both. Some of his favorite artists include Childish Gambino, Toro y Moi, Tyler, the Creator, KAYTRANADA, Gorillaz, and many more.