Ariana Grande by Dave Meyers,
Sugar, spice and all things saucy was what I expected from Ariana Grande’s sixth studio album, positions. The album title itself, along with track number two blatantly named after a sex position, meant this album was never going to be as tame as the likes of Sweetener or even thank u, next.
The album starts off with Ariana’s wild, single phase and ends with her learning to trust love again. She takes us along as she lets go of others’ opinions in ‘shut up’ and details the empowerment that can be found in the freedom of exploring one’s sexuality with ‘motive’ and ‘just like magic’. As we move into songs like ‘off the table’ and ‘six thirty’, we begin to notice Ariana potentially falling in love again but notice her hesitance to trust before giving love another chance as we reach songs ‘obvious’ and ‘pov’.
However, without this story-telling context, the album sounds very similar the entire way through, from beginning to end you may believe the song has only changed a couple of times. This is not to say that the songs are bad, just that none of them set fire to my soul in the way Grande’s previous tracks like ‘God is a woman’ and ‘thank u, next’ did. If I were to sum this album up in one niche feeling, it would be eating a bag of chocolate and confidently scoffing the last one thinking that there’s another in the bag. . . but there isn’t. Good while it lasted, but it’s disappointing that there isn’t more.
The opener, ‘shut up’ starts us off with a sassy number, accompanied by a violin backing track—it sets the scene for an album about Ariana Grande herself as opposed to love interests in previous records. The song captures what it feels like to be independent and ready to focus on yourself again; it’s the perfect song to drink wine to while getting ready for a girls’ night.
‘34+35’, however, plunges us into the naughtier side of the record as it describes Ariana’s sexual escapades. It also adds to the modern narrative that women enjoy sex as much as men and that casual sex is nothing to be ashamed of. The contrast of the title, merely alluding to a sex position, and the lyrics “fuck me ‘til the daylight” are exciting as they leave nothing to the listener’s imagination—they’re straightforward.
In a similar way, ‘motive (featuring Doja Cat)’ and ‘just like magic’ capture the empowerment that can be achieved through casual relationships. Both tracks describe Ariana living her best life with the former exploring the exciting tension felt between a partner when you’re both too unsure and too afraid to make the first move, and ‘just like magic’ solidifying the narrative of the beauty of single life and self-love.
The tone of the album shifts from sexy and sassy to slow and sad with the lo-fi beat on ‘off the table’, a collaboration with The Weeknd. This song is not a classic Ariana heartbreak song like ‘no tears left to cry’ or ‘Almost Is Never Enough’—it rather describes the feeling of loneliness every person experiences for even a brief moment when they’re single. This is a track I can imagine myself listening to while lying in bed, staring at the ceiling and wondering if they will ever text me back.
Tracks ‘six thirty’ and ‘safety net’ show Ariana dropping her casual façade as she begins to show her vulnerable side. ‘six thirty’ tells the story of the “talking stage”, where she is left wondering whether her partner’s attraction will eventually fade; ‘safety net’ describes the inner turmoil of attempting to trust someone again after being hurt.
‘my hair’ and ‘nasty’ tell the story of Ariana wanting someone to see her vulnerable side and detail the experiences that someone will have once Grande is able to do so. These risqué songs describe both the sexual and emotional intimacy that can be found in trusting your partner.
‘west side’, a relatable anthem about wanting someone to want you, is the next track on the album. This is my least favourite song on the album as it doesn’t provide much substance to the album or the larger story as a whole. The sentiment is nice but it just doesn’t quite stand up to the rest of the tracks. The sound is more suited to Grande’s Sweetener album. However, ‘love language’ is, in fact, my favourite. I can’t help but dance along to this iconic, upbeat track. A cheeky anthem with a catchy, repetitive chorus to sing along to adds a welcome element of familiarity to the album.
The title track ‘positions’ is already a hit on TikTok. This song pulls together all the elements of the album and gives the audience insight into what sexual expression, trust and love feel like in a relationship after being hurt in the past. It plays on the stereotype of being the respectable woman that you’d want to meet your parents, and then tears this charade straight down with the idea of the modern, sexually-liberated female who’s not afraid of “switching the positions” for you.
‘positions’ seems to be the final cheeky song as the final two tracks ‘obvious’ and ‘pov’ delve deeper into the emotional side of relationships. ‘obvious’ shows how Grande has finally opened her eyes to love again. It details being so secure in your love for a partner and that is, simply, obvious.
‘pov’, another TikTok hit that track, is arguably the most vulnerable song on the album. It explores having your partner love you so much that you wish you could experience this love for yourself. Here, Ariana recognises her flaws and delights in the fact that someone else not only sees them but loves them, too. This emotional love song beautifully ends the album and ties up the journey we have been on with Ariana from the beginning.
POSITIONS IS OUT NOW