When Ariana Grande first came on the scene, I was skeptical. Another family-friendly channel-pop-princess? I was over it. But then I heard “Problem” and my jaw dropped: this girl has PIPES. She is immensely talented. Could she be the next super-pop star that could actually sing?
I would soon find out with her sophomore album My Everything.
This is a delicate, fantastic pop-induced introduction that has Ariana’s vocals playing over the arrangement in harmonic bliss. I wish this had been longer, but maybe that’s why I like it – because it leaves us wanting more.
Problem feat. Iggy Azalea
As soon as the horn section starts up, this song makes you want to dance. The beat is excellent, and Ariana’s strong vocals play over the percussion in a catchy melody. Iggy Azalea’s verse is on-point and makes the song that much better. This is one of the hottest songs of the summer, and everybody knows it.
One Last Time
This super-catchy lover’s ballad is the kind of song you’d blast while driving through the city on a summer’s night, singing along at the top of your lungs. On the chorus, Ariana’s voice lifts up in a crescendo that will give you shivers. This might be the best song on the album.
Although this song discusses matters of the heart, as it seems all the songs on this album do (which gets a bit tiresome), the lyrical-content delves a bit deeper than some of the others (“Oh baby, look at us/We been living like angels/Living like devils/Oh baby look/I’m loving the pain/I never wanna live without it”) and it offers a very interesting insight to Ariana’s perspective on love and relationships. The overall song itself is excellent and catchy – it should see many naysayers becoming fans.
Break Free feat. Zedd
This sounds like a pop hit from 2011 (I hear a lot of Britney Spears in this track). But the chorus is awesome and huge; this could be the next “Dancing On My Own” (Robyn’s 2010 mega-hit). I could do without the dubstep drops and breakdowns pounding throughout the track. The note she hits at the climax is almost unbelievable, but the dubstep-heavy ending really detracts from the rest of the song.
Best Mistake feat. Big Sean
This is a melodic, slower pop jam that really showcases Big Sean’s adaptability and talents. It’s worth it alone to hear Big Sean, but it isn’t the strongest song on the album.
Be My Baby feat. Cashmere Cat
I’m loving the arrangement: sounds like a mix between Frank Ocean and Mariah Carey but the melody is cliché and uninteresting. Again, it’s a song that shows off Ariana’s vocal prowess, but I’m paying more attention to the mix and instrumental techniques being used than to her vocals, which isn’t good. Ariana’s voice is so strong, she needs unique and amazing melodies written to match her talent.
Break Your Heart Right Back feat. Childish Gambino
I was rolling my eyes all over the banality of this song until the Diana Ross sample kicked in, and that’s where Ariana’s vocals and the melody really start working together with the arrangement. The chorus is bangin’.
Love Me Harder feat. The Weeknd
The arrangement and instrumentation on this song is a surging flux of electronic excellence. The Weeknd obviously impresses with his Michael Jackson-influenced vocals; his voice flows easily through the melody. It will be interesting to see what kinds of duets he works on in the future.
A Little Bit Of Your Heart
Here we go. This is my jam. We’ve got a mega-ballad on our hands here. This is a moving, strongly written song that pulls at the heartstrings. It shows off Ariana’s range, low to high, without having her belting throughout the entire thing. Harry Styles is one of the co-writers on this track and it proves Harry may have some diversity as a songwriter!
Hands On Me feat. A$AP Ferg
This is a power-pop banger that has Ariana inviting her lover to seduce her. It’s definitely a little bit Britney Spears-inspired (think “Boys” and “Overprotected” from Britney’s 2001 self-title album). A$AP Ferg sounds a bit like Danny Brown on this track, which lends itself well to the overall vibe.
If you don’t listen to any song on this album but one song, listen to “My Everything.” This is a beautiful outro reminiscent of modern-day musical theater, such as Rent. It’s a wonderful ballad, with a sparse arrangement, allowing us to focus on Ariana’s voice and harmonies. This is simply beautiful!
RATING: 8 out of 10 high ponytails
The stage is set to allow Ariana to become the next huge thing in pop music. She has proven her talent is immeasurable. It will be interesting to see if on the next album, she tackles issues other than love and relationships. If she continues to work with incredible producers and songwriters, while developing her own style a little further, there’s no telling what she could accomplish. One thing’s for sure: Ariana is setting her sights on something greater than pop-princess — she wants to be the queen.
Ariana Grande’s My Everything is available now.