Review: Listeners of Ariana Grande’s Positions, a flirty and pop album, strongly admire it for its cadence, old-timey feel and romantic messages
By Mira Sripada
Ariana Grande is a singer/songwriter and actress born in Boca Raton, Florida. Before transitioning full time into the music business, Grande notably began her career as an actress on Nickelodeon. Now in 2020, having become a true household name and one of the biggest female pop stars in the world, Grande stands behind six studio albums: Yours Truly (2013), My Everything (2014), Dangerous Women (2016), Sweetener (2018), thank you, next (2019) and finally, Positions which was released on October 30, 2020.
Positions is a true rarity in that the album never misses. Ariana Grande infuses uniqueness, creativity and lyrical depth into every single track on this body of work. Particularly, the album evokes feelings of romance and intimacy. “34+35”, the second song on the album, exemplifies a shift in Grande’s attitude. Themes of love and flirtation saturate the song and distinguish this album from its predecessor. The song is initiated by the sounds of classical instrumentation and is followed by sassy, skippity and high vocals underlied by a bass-heavy beat. Furthermore, “obvious” hits on this same aspect of the album exuding a coy and frisky feeling. The singer utilizes enjambment during this track to radiate ideas of love, clear through the lyrics “oh my love, oh my love is free”.
This romance is purified, strengthened and deepend in even more songs on the album. “off the table” which is a collaboration between Grande and the Weeknd, joins the list of heart-warming and emotional love songs. Atmospheric and gradual, it is in this song where an emotional dilemma takes place between the two singers. The Weeknd’s transition into this song is seamless and powerful when he says, “I’ll wait for you, even though it always feels like I will be number two”. This passion and intensity escalates as the track progresses, evidenced by the power in each singer’s vocal performance. Additionally, the song “pov”, potentially one of the strongest songs on Positions, has a similar romantic and slow feel. Underlaid by a mellow and mariba-like beat when Grande’s tranquilizing voice is heard, this track feels like it’s melting and dripping into your ears. The lyrics continue to impact and impassion listeners: “How you touch my soul from the outside / Permeate my ego and my pride”.
Coming off of the melodramatic and spiteful work of thank you, next, Positions has a much different mood. This most recent album of Grande’s incorporates classical instrumentation and a certain groove to give it an old-timey, playful feel. There are many songs on this album that demonstrate this style. The premiere song, “shut up” begins with the sounds of a violin and cello and is followed by a staccato violin melody. This instrumentation is glazed over by a fast-paced and sharp vocal performance. The culmination of these techniques allows the track to sound grandiose and mysterious. This album time travels listeners again through the song “my hair”. This 90s-feeling song is both reflective and pensive and, through the use of trumpets, has a certain groove and pep distinguishable from anything Grande has created in the past. A jazzy and jivey melody parade and drive “love language”, the eleventh track on Positions. This song is groovy, danceable, and fast-paced and shys away from trap beats which were prevalent in Grande’s previous works. This piece also has the same reflective quality that “my hair” has. Finally, “six thirty” includes a rocking rhythm, strong down beat and high vocals. This is combined with some of the peppy and boppy techniques present in previously mentioned songs.
In addition to the songs mentioned above, listed below are some honorable mentions that contribute to the album’s memorability: “west side” and “safety net (feat. Ty Dolla $ign)”
Ariana Grande maintains her musical success streak with Positions, a flirty, romantic and playful body of work that will mark her sixth studio album. Positions is everything that thank you, next is not and so it demonstrates a personal growth with the artist. Grande displays a maturity and frankness in this album through cleverly written lyrics. Moreover, an old-timey and reflective mood paints through many songs on the album and is possible through classical instruments and a groovy cadence. Each track on this album possesses a uniqueness that differentiates it from the rest and enhances it for the listener. Because of this, Ariana Grande proves her title as one of the biggest female pop stars through the album Positions.