Ariana Grande: ‘Sweetener’ Album Review

Hello,

It’s been a while since I posted an album review and I’m beside myself with excitement to be returning with a hugely anticipated record, Sweetener, by pop princess, Ariana Grande.

Released on 17th August 2018, Sweetener, Ariana’s fourth studio album has been long awaited since her last record, Dangerous Woman, which dropped in 2016 and gained mass global success.

Tracks from Sweetener that we have already been blessed with include No Tears Left To Cry, God is a Woman and duet with Nicki Minaj, The Light is Coming which have all done fantastically in the UK and US charts.

As always, a disclaimer before I begin. I am no music expert nor do I know anything about the technicality of it. I am simply a music listener and lover and all of what you’re about to read is completely my own personal opinion.

The album has 15 tracks, including collaborations with Pharrell, Missy Elliott and of course, Nicki Minaj. The record collectively adds up to 48 minutes.

THE REVIEW:

Track 1 – ‘raindrops (an angel cried)’:

Ariana starts the record with an acoustic intro. It’s very ‘Over the Rainbow’-esque, which I know Ariana is a huge fan of. However, she wastes no time in showing off her angelic vocal range. The perfect way to open an album.

Track 2 – ‘blazed’ ft. Pharrell Williams:

Instantly, Ariana brings out the vocal layering she’s became so well known for! No one harmonises with Ariana Grande as good as…well, Ariana Grande. I think this tracks is quite influenced by soul and Motown, picking up from the melody and the vocal choices. From the first beat of the song, you can already tell Pharrell has had his clever little fingertips all over this track and in true Pharrell nature, produces a very catch track and chorus.

Track 3 – ‘the light is coming’ ft. Nicki Minaj: 

I’m not going to talk too much about this track as I’m guessing the majority of people have heard it already. When I first heard the song, I wasn’t keen at all. I loved Nicki’s addition to the track and thought her vocals really added something to what otherwise was quite a meh song for me. However, the more I’ve listened to it the more I’ve began to like it. I just wish Nicki had maybe another short verse to break up the song a bit more.

Track 4 – ‘R.E.M’:

If I didn’t already know that R.E.M was a reworked Beyonce track, I would have picked up on it within seconds of listening. It’s nice to see Ariana exploring more of an RnB sound on her album as her voice is compatible with the melodies typically used in rhythm and blues music. For Ariana, this track lets her play about with similar styles of vocal arrangement that her musical inspirations, Beyonce, Whitney, Mariah etc are familiar with. It would be amazing if, for a special release, Beyonce could do a short feature of the song.

Track 5 – ‘God is a woman’:

Nothing but scalding hot tea from the queen that is Ariana Grande. We’ve been blessed, God is truly a WOMAN. I’m obsessed with this song, from the high head voice to the RnB beat, it’s a masterpiece. I can’t not mention the music video too, a work of art and the quote from Madonna snatched wigssss.

Track 6 – ‘sweetener’:

It’s time for the title track. If I had to pick out a track on the album that was most similar to her debut album, Yours Truly. However, as expected out of a woman who has grown up and found her musical identity, the lyrics are more mature. Sticking with the typical Ariana piano led melody we all know and love, a synth flair gives it that 80s/90s flair that brings in just a flavour of Mariah. I love this track and the positivity of the lyrics. A perfect fit for a title track.

Track 7 – ‘successful’:

If you ever needed a song to be motivated by, it’s this one. Ariana talks about how successful she is and rightly so, she’s a star that’s had to battle the menaces of fame to come out the other end. It’s great to hear a woman singing about her successfulness rather than having it shoved in our face by male artists and their nine layers of gold chains for once! Once again, Ariana’s vocals sound outstanding playing alongside an angelic lulling piano with a soul/funk beat, a sound that’s became so staple to her vocal identity.

Track 8 – ‘everytime’:

For me, everytime, is the most typical current style for pop music right now. The heavy beat is used alot by the likes of Katy Perry and Taylor Swift and that’s simply because, it works. Its gives some dimension to a song, being able to build up the rhythm. This track is super easy listening. Just one thing, I would love maybe a rap feature on this, perhaps Chance or Quavo?

Track 9 – ‘breathin”:

This track completely sums up to me, who Ariana is as an artist right now. One of my favourites on the album on the first listen with sweet lyrics, a catchy pop beat and insane vocals. ‘breathin’ lets us have a little insight into Ariana’s struggles and her lows, which carries nicely onto the next track where she picks herself up again.

Track 10 – ‘no tears left to cry’:

When Ariana first released this song, I was fully expecting a sad song that maybe gave insight into how Grande was coping with the dreadful Manchester attacks in 2017. Instead, we got a BOP. I’m not joking when I say I played this song for at least one entire week without listening to a single other song. The dancey pop had me dancing about and attempting the high notes at every turn. I really think it’s such a brave move to release such an upbeat song after attacks but it’s done exactly what Grande wanted and brought positivity and optimism.

Track 11 – ‘borderline’ ft. Missy Elliott:

Yeeeeees, come through Fergalicious vibes! This track reminds me of old style Fergie, who I love and miss, come back girl! You can really hear the RnB direction Ariana seems to be steering in clearly on this mellow dance track. Missy feature is nice, short but sweet, which is the premise of the album itself.

Track 12 – ‘better off’:

I love how on this album, Ariana stays completely true to who shes is. You can hear the tracks that could fit into her previous releases and how she’s grown in ability since. I think better off sounds like it’s been plucked straight off of My Everything, which perhaps is comparing her feelings to the person who influenced the second album, to how she sees them now. It’s a easy listening break up song, where Ariana talks about wanting to feel free and wild once again.

Track 13 – ‘goodnight n go’:

This track, played straight after better off, to me shows a sequence of Ariana trying to think about herself and her goals but being unable to ignore her feelings for someone. Comparing to the lyrics in better off, Ariana seems to have found someone who let’s her be young, free and does not dim her shine. Yas, gal! This track is such a sweet love song, which brings us onto the next song.

Track 14 – ‘pete davidson’:

When I first heard Ariana was dedicating a song on her album to her fiance, Pete Davidson, I was concerned. Such a big decision. However, after hearing the track and Ariana referring to Pete as her ‘soulmate’, I thought why the hell not! Why shouldn’t she be singing about her love for her man. The track, which includes a beautiful violin led outro, is again short and sweet but fitting to the structure of the album.

Track 15 – ‘get well soon’:

Ariana bringing back in the broadway/jazz influences with heavy piano, my favourite. I love the way she sounds on this track, it’s really fresh in the current musical climate, although using classic styles. Her harmonies and ad-libs are just incredible as per usual. She’s ending her album on a bang, definitely not a fizzle.

FINAL THOUGHTS:

Without a doubt, Sweetener is set to top charts. Ariana has outdone herself once again, keeping true to her musical identity but trying new little flairs to keep her fans hot on their toes. The album has a lot of shorter tracks, which fits in with the purpose of the record, shedding light and positivity, especially after the horrific events of 2017. This is an album both, Ariana, herself and the fans really needed.

The record bursts with happiness and it’s great to see that Ariana is content in her life and it really shows through her music. I can’t wait for tour, I’ll definitely be buying tickets!

 

To view my previous post, click here.

Thanks for reading,

Chanel

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Month in Music: April 2018

It’s May!

Not that you’d be able to tell by the current state of the weather in the UK, but I have high hopes that summer heat is just around the corner to compliment all the upbeat anthems that are being released!

April was very good to us, music-wise. We had the unbelievably, spectacular Beychella at the start of the month, the release of Arctic Monkey UK tour dates (absolute chaos but I managed to snatch some!) and to end the month off we had Kanye West being Kanye on his Twitter rants, which I can’t tell if it is his genuine thoughts or all just a huge marketing publicity stunt. Who knows? It’s Kanye.

Anyway, here are my top 5 songs of the month and the link to my playlist:

  • Calvin Harris (With Dua Lipa) – One Kiss

I bloody love Calvin Harris! Always have done, probably always will. One Kiss is yet another summer anthem. When How Deep Is Your Love came out in 2015, I literally listened to it none stop for a good month and I’ve done the exact same with One Kiss. I really don’t believe Calvin has the ability to make a bad song? and Dua sounds top notch as usual. Fingers crossed for more from these two!

  • Ariana Grande – No Tears Left To Cry

She’s back and coming for ALL of our wigs! No Tears Left To Cry is so long in the making, I feel like I’ve been waiting for more Grande music for a lifetime and I’m super glad she’s storming the charts with this little banger. Alongside the majority of other fans, I expected a slower, ballad track when I heard the song title and when the beat dropped I was fully shook. I’m waiting with baited breath and a tight grip on my hairline for Sweetner.

  • Harry Styles – Woman

Ok so, I went to see Harry on his world tour on the 9th of April and ever since I’ve had Medicine stuck in my head. It’s a solid bop and I need a studio release right this instance please. Since there’s no version of the song I can add to my Spotify playlist, I picked the other song I came away singing. Woman is a fantastic song, I pick up a lot of Pink Floyd influences from this track with its slightly psychedelic melody and ‘you flower, you feast’ is one of my favourite lyrics that Harry has written so far.

  • Avicii – Lay Me Down

I was on the way out for drinks with my friends when the news that Avicii had passed away broke and I couldn’t believe it. It’s devastating that such a young, talented person struggled with their mental illness to the point where they felt there was only one option. It highlights just how important it is to talk about your mental health. Lay Me Down is a track I feel like not many people really know about. I found it through being a huge fan of Adam Lambert, the vocalist featured, and it became my no.1 song from Avicii.

  • Anne-Marie – Then

Last friday, Anne-Marie released her debut album ‘Speak Your Mind’ and I reviewed it on my blog (which you can read here if you’re interested).  The stand out track for me was ‘Then’ and ever since I’ve had it played on top volume. The song is pretty upbeat, like much of the album, but the lyrics and the tone of Anne-Marie’s vocals bring an element of vulnerability and heartbreak. I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for tour dates.

If you want to listen to the Spotify playlist you can find it here.

I also have a January, February and March picks you can read about/listen to.

Cheers for reading,

Chanel

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Month in Music: March

Happy Wednesday!

Only two more days until the weekend, hurray!

Although, we’re 11 days into April I want to go back a few weeks and talk about all of the great music I’ve been listening to throughout March. I’ve reduced the size of the playlist from 20 songs to 10, just to make it a little easier to narrow down my favourites.

March brought a lot of musical goodness! I went to see both Niall Horan and Sam Smith on their world tours and they were fantastic. I reviewed Sam’s tour on one of my latest blog posts which you can find here if you’re interested!

My picks this month are very male orientated and I’m desperately waiting for the females to snatch back the charts crown (Ariana, Rihanna, I’m look at you gals). Without further ado, here is my top five from March:

My top 5 songs of March are:

  • John Newman – Fire in Me

I’m a huge John Newman fan, his first album ‘Tribute’ was played to death in my house when it was released, so you can imagine my excitement when I seen he had a new single. Fire in Me does not disappoint! It’s a proper feel good song that you can shout out loud and has so much power behind the lyrics, especially following Newman’s hiatus to focus on his health. I’m very excited John is back and I can’t wait to hear more from him!

  • James Bay- Pink Lemonade

Although James Bay has changed his style of music slightly to a more edgy, indie rock influenced sound, I still am a huge fan, if not more than ever. Pink Lemonade is so easy to listen to and enjoy, I’ve been playing it constantly and the bridge really adds an extra element of drama to the song. It works so well and I’m obsessed.

  • Sam Smith – HIM

Since seeing Sam at the end of March, all I can do is listen to HIM. I liked it before tour but hearing it live and the crowd singing along had me immediately playing it the second I got home. The choir in the background of the track add a gospel feel to the song which mirrors the play on word with HIM in relation to both God and a homosexual relationship. It’s such a fantastic song and it might have made it to my favourite track on the album. Oh and of course Sam sounds insanely good as always.

  • Years & Years – Sanctify

THEY’RE FINALLY BACK! I’ve been waiting for new music from Years & Years since the release of Meteorite for Bridget Jones’ Baby and as soon as they dropped Sanctify, I picked up my phone and gave it a listen. I’m glad they’ve stuck to their electronic style music as I think it really suits Olly’s vocals. Waiting on more, boys!

  • Todrick Hall & Jade Novah – Play

Todrick’s last release ‘Straight Outta Oz’ blew me away. It was absolutely incredible, from the cinematography to the genius references to Oz in the lyrics, I couldn’t praise it highly enough. When I seen he was releasing another visual album, Forbidden, I was eagerly waiting for the upload. If you haven’t seen it yet, I recommend you go and watch it here right away. It’s spectacular, Todrick and his crew are insanely talented. It was hard to whittle down my favourite from the album but Play features both Todrick and Jade and they sound great together.

If you want to listen, I’ve made up a playlist on my spotify which you can listen to here.

I also have a January and February music picks which you can view by clicking on the links.

Until next month, happy listening!

Chanel

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