“Positions,” Ariana Grande’s sixth studio album, ascends listeners to the heavens through an emotive journey of astounding vocals, storytelling and whistle notes.
Ariana Grande is an American singer and actress who has continuously found great success in creating music that presents her individuality as an artist.
With countless awards and an iconic hairstyle, Grande has established her own throne in the music industry by releasing music that chronologically tells a story and includes insights into her personal life.
The distinct sound of her music is often accompanied by demonstrations of her breathtaking vocal abilities and lyrical themes that sonically move listeners in pushing past personal hardships.
Grande’s previous two albums, “Thank U Next” and “Sweetener,” explored the bliss of newfound love and the immense devastation that resulted from traumatic experiences.
In a continuation of this personal story, “Positions,” released on Oct. 30, details the vulnerable experience of healing and tearing down internal barriers to pursue happiness.
Consisting of 14 tracks, the new album breaks the formulaic structure of pop songs and delves into the R&B genre with the addition of collaborations from Doja Cat, The Weeknd, Ty Dolla $ign and lush instrumentals that accentuate Grande’s vocal range.
“Positions is ostensibly about the excitement of a fresh relationship, but regardless of the subject matter, Grande continues to grow by leaps and bounds as a recording artist,” critic Jason Lipshutz wrote in his review on Billboard.
In relation to previous works, Grande’s artistic growth is portrayed by the sonic progression of themes throughout the sequence of the album.
Beginning with the song “Shut Up,” Grande addresses critics in a theatrical opening and initiates the tone of the album by dismissing the individuals who refuse to listen to her story and continue to scrutinize her public life.
After dismissing critics in the first track, Grande explores the initiation of a relationship in the songs “34+35” and “Motive.”
In these tracks, Grande describes the mindless fun of a new relationship until one begins to question the other individual’s intention in pursuing the relationship.
This development continues in “Just Like Magic,” in an interlude of personal achievement and self-growth, to a vulnerable transition to “Off The Table” in which Grande contemplates whether love is a possibility after losing a past love that is impossible to replace.
After acknowledging the inevitable occurrence of love, Grande questions the level of commitment in “Six Thirty” and faces the fear and uncertainty in pursuing a new love in “Safety Net.”
This progression leads to a newfound confidence after Grande expresses the freedom of overcoming fear to present your true self to another individual in the song “My Hair.”
The feat of breaking down internal barriers leads to the conclusion of the album in the song “POV” when Grande expresses that she will continue to love her new partner despite her fears.
In the final chorus of the album, Grande conveys the progression in the battle to heal as she strives to love herself in the same way her partner collectively loves every aspect of her flaws and beauty.
This sonic progression begins with the lighthearted start of a new relationship to the following doubt and fear that prevents one from accepting new love. In the strategic sequence of the album, Grande highlights the theme of healing and learning to love again.
As listeners embark on this journey of healing, listeners will first laugh at the sexual lyrical content of the song “34+35,” and later find themselves swimming in an ocean of tears as the album progresses to the heart of its thematic message of breaking down internal barriers to love again.
“It’s a pleasant listen, but this feels strange juxtaposed with the lyrical content that flits between brazen vulnerability and all-out raunch-fest, demanding something more,” critic Hannah Mylrea wrote in her review on New Musical Express.
While some may argue that the explicit lyrical content, describing sexual endeavors in a new relationship, overshadows the vulnerability of the album, the explicit lyrical content illuminates the vulnerability of the album by detailing the progressive nature of relationships as one experiences initial doubt and fear before finding the strength to show their true self to another individual.
In other words, the lyrical content highlights the progression from uncertainty and fear in a new relationship to trust and resulting acceptance.
As a result of this acceptance, Grande sonically presents that this progression is a natural part of the human experience in healing, learning to loving others and allowing love to be received.
Through the implementation of effective collaborations, breathtaking vocals, whistle notes, strategic track sequences and the progression of meaningful themes listeners are encouraged to pursue their own path to healing.
In departing on this musical journey, from the first track, “Positions” is an album that takes listeners on a heavenly journey of healing and loving again.