Created during the COVID-19 pandemic, Ariana Grande dropped the cozy and fluffy project "Positions" just over two years ago. When first released, it received a mixed response from critics and the general public as they felt it lacked creativity. Some thought she regressed compared to her last two albums, "Sweetener" and "thank u, next." However, when Ariana drops a new album, there's always an initial backlash, and then people grow to love it. Think of her album, "Sweetener," which people appreciate now, proving it to be a sleeper hit.
However, Grande's vocal performance and involvement received praise as she's listed as an engineer, vocal arranger and vocal producer in all tracks aside from "nasty," where she's not listed as an engineer.
"My presence sweet and my aura bright" serves as the opening lyrics to this album. The first track, "shut up," is a message to those criticizing her. It's full of vocal layers, and the outro sounds something out of Disney with the whimsical strings, then leads to a "Midsommar" type of feel with the ending note.
Looking at the track list, everyone focused on "34+35" for obvious reasons. It's the album's second single, full of double entendres and sexual puns. It was supposed to be the first single, but Grande chose "positions" as the first single as she felt it would've steered people in the wrong direction.
Throughout this album, it's safe to say Grande has a good ear musically. It transfers beautifully on the fourth track, "just like magic." While this track is concise, she sings about manifestations and pays tribute to Mac Miller. While celebrating her accomplishments but not like the bragging in "7 rings." The bass-heavy track is definitely for the spiritual and horoscope girlies.
This is one of her most cohesive albums compared to her others, as the tracks flow into each other and have a story to tell, and it feels like a proper album. Her collaboration with The Weeknd is haunting in "off the table," asking if she deserves love due to her past relationships. It's the strongest collaboration of the three -- she also collaborated with Doja Cat ("motive") and Ty Dolla $ign ("safety net").
This album is more laid-back, but there's some excitement to explore on this album. For example, "my hair" starts as an intimate track, then the final chorus is where Ariana goes ballistic and sings it entirely in the whistle register.
Something enjoyable is that she uses her whistles as a garnish. It follows the same lead as Mariah Carey does in her album, "Butterfly." In "nasty," her signature giggle appears while a whistle tone soars beautifully in the background in the beginning. It's an intimate track about wanting to get nasty, and the production is top-tier.
Tracks that feel a bit lackluster in production are "west side," "six thirty" and "obvious." While they're all beautiful, especially the bridge in "six thirty," it felt like something was missing.
One track that stands out is "love language," as it hits you with a jack swing introduction while she sings seductively throughout the track about "speaking her love language." This should've been the album name instead of "Positions," as I was expecting a more sexually provocative sound when I first heard "Positions" as the title.
Throughout this album, Ariana speaks of her "love languages" rather than her positions per se. However, the first single and title track, "positions," is breezy, and the theme falls in line with the Destiny's Child track "Cater 2 U." The bridge is where the song shines, and it's seen here how much time she dedicated to the bridge.
When first released, this was the track everyone initially fell in love with as the meaning is simply scenic. From the strings to the relatable gushy message of love, Ariana's voice here is mesmerizing. The closer "POV" is beautiful, and she glides among these verses with her silky voice.
These songs have this sense of fullness that I don't hear nowadays. While Ariana's lyricism is not as intense as other artists, she makes up for it with her voice. Her utilization is something artists aren't capable of, and I believe she will eventually become a strong songwriter, but her production skills will always be there.
It's been two years, and she's ventured off into the world of beauty with her makeup line, "r.e.m beauty," and will star as Glinda in the live-action "Wicked" soon. But I hope she'll return to her roots soon.