Positions by Ariana Grande

Review by Anneka Dallin O’Grady

Last October 30, Ariana Grande released her sixth studio album titled Positions. With everything going on in the world at the time – a global pandemic and a U.S. presidential election – Grande recalls being unsure about whether or not to put out new music. Ultimately, she chose to release the album which she said in an interview at the time that she hopes will “make a lot of people feel something good.”

At first listen, Positions seems to be disappointingly boring – something that could be played in a Forever 21 at best. However, if you listen closer, Grande has experimented greatly with this album, and it has paid off. Tracks are focused on vocals, with strings and R&B beats supporting her voice instead of being centre stage. Singing in whistle tones, Grande flaunts her range in “my hair,” and she uses auto tune to produce a unique sound in “shut up.”

Something that is well known about Ariana is her hair, styled in her signature ponytail. At the beginning of her career, she strived to separate herself from her role as Cat Valentine in the Nickelodeon sitcom Victorious by ditching the red hair and opting for a confident high ponytail, establishing her persona as a sweet but sexy popstar. With the release of Positions, Grande turns this around and challenges her persona as she lets down her hair, focusing just on enjoying her craft and writing music she wants instead of catering to the industry.

The album’s lyrics speak for themselves and get straight to the point. Grande says she wrote most of the lyrics “just having a good time making songs” and “[doesn’t] think it’s any deeper than that.” Grande has always been confident in her sexuality, but that is something that is time and time again frowned upon for women in the music industry. In Positions this is a major theme, starting off with “shut up,” a song about putting aside your negative presumptions and just listening. Grande empowers and exudes confidence with lyrics such as “just like magic, I’m attractive,” all the while singing with vulnerability about her relationships. On “pov” she sings, “I’m gеtting used to receiving, Still gеtting good at not leaving”

The one track that stands out is “pov.” Filled with beautifully mixed harmonies, meaningful lyrics that truly put a spotlight on Grande’s inner thoughts and a catchy melody, it’s certain this song will be a favourite for many. The album also contains three collaborations: “off the table” with The Weeknd, “motive” with Doja Cat and “safety net” featuring Ty Dolla $ign. While “off the table” is arguably the second-best track on Positions – with Ariana and Abel’s voices providing a perfect balance together – “motive” and “safety net” fall short. Both songs face the same downfall, with the featured artists seeming to be there only for the money. The verses they sing are not memorable, adding little to the tracks.

Grande’s Positions brought fun with no commitment to one of the most eventful years of the 2000s and served as a platform for an influential pop artist to let go and experiment with her music. This album seems to be the prequel to something big for Grande and a treat for her fans, but for casual pop listeners, it’s nothing that hasn’t been heard before. I would rate this album a 6/10, and my favourite track is “pov.” A sex-positive album with hints of love, but one that is lacking memorability.

Anneka Dallin O’Grady is a Grade 11 student at Glebe Collegiate Institute. This is her first year on the school newspaper, the Glebe Gazette.

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