Sweetener: Ariana Grande's Latest Hit Album....We'll Take More Of This Sugar....
On August 17th, pop singer Ariana Grande dropped her fourth studio album, Sweetener. Filled with content both sugary and sultry, and produced predominantly by iconic producer, Pharrell Williams, Sweetener is an album that delivers tunes you can do just about anything to—dance, cry, hell, put on “God is a woman” and you can even have sex to it! With striking lyrics, production, and visuals, Grande is clearly demonstrating her growth not only as an artist, but also as a 25-year-old woman. She’s no longer the fiery redhead from Victorious! While Grande has clearly been distancing herself from her Nickelodeon roots, especially with her 2016 album Dangerous Woman (which, if I may, was also amazing), Sweetener is a proclamation that she is here for the long haul. She proves her range as an artist by delivering breathy, sultry vocals on tracks like “God is a Woman,” and also shows off her skills as a singer on songs like “get well soon” and “everytime” .
Despite widespread critical acclaim—Sweetener garnered a score of 81 out of 100 on Metacritic—many fans weren’t pleased with Pharrell’s “trap” influence on the album, as they put it. To be clear, there is nothing trap about this influence. Trap, a sub-genre of rap, is hard-hitting. It’s southern. It’s gritty. It’s not at all a defining characteristic on Grande’s (very) pop album. Sweetener is a cohesive and genuine album that, as the title suggests, is drenched with distinctively sweet production. Not trap, kiddos. The cohesion of this album rests not only on Grande’s vocal abilities, or Pharrell’s always superb skill as a producer, but also in the honesty and relatability of much of the lyrics.
In this album, Grande opens up about the Manchester Bombing, an event that tragically killed 22 of her fans at her concert in Manchester, England. She also references her anxiety, her doting, and maybe just a bit obsessed, fiancé, Pete Davidson (it’s okay, Pete, we all are), and what many people suspected to be the end of her relationship with rapper, Mac Miller. While this is a review of Sweetener, it’d be remiss of me to ignore this recent tragedy. As she, Miller’s family, friends, and fans cope with his sudden death, many spiteful fans of the rapper have pointed the blame to Grande, blaming her for his untimely death. It’s important that we recognize his death, is by no means the fault of Ariana Grande, and she is also grieving with the rest of the world—she needs support and sympathy along with all those touched and affected by Miller’s death.
Ariana Grande opened up immensely with this album. Her development as an artist has been made ardently clear. This album translates much of the human experience: love, loss, and, ultimately, life. Despite critiques from fans, Sweetener has proved itself to be a standout album in a world where pop has become fairly lackluster. Grande herself mentioned this album is the first time she’s been this present and what she’s been craving to do—and it’s clear. Verses of humanhood, of womanhood, placed alongside dreamy harmonies make this album such a powerful one. I don’t know about the rest of you Ari fans, but this album was pretty damn seamless for me—but hey, that’s just me…and a ton of other reputable critics. If you haven’t yet given it a listen, plug in your earphones right now and get prepared to dance, get in your feels a little bit, and sing your heart out. Trust me, this album’s a good one.
Cover via Fuzzable