The Record Scratch: Ariana Grande’s “Sweetener” leaves a bitter taste

September 2, 2018

The ‘pop princess’, Ariana Grande, returned to the studio two years after her ‘Dangerous Woman’ album, and put out her latest, “Sweetener”, which is pretty bittersweet and disappointing to say the least.

It is easy to tell that Grande is trying to take some chances with her art, inviting Pharrell Williams, big time producer and artist of the famous single, “Happy” into the studio. “Sweetener” is mostly produced and co-written by Williams, with six tracks with his name on it.

Some might think “Well, she has had a rough two years from a hard break-up to a bombing at one of her concerts, of course she would want to produce with someone who wrote a song called “Happy!” “.

However, the album doesn’t seem to connect to any of those situations, as she’s mentioned in many recent interviews, her new album is about “bringing light into the situation,”. Although I can somewhat get the positivity vibe she is going for, that doesn’t excuse the mess of album she has released.

Two tracks are related to her previous hardships: “Get well soon” and “Better off”. “Get well soon”, a track related to her concert that was bombed in Manchester, United Kingdom on May 22, 2017, is exclusively for the fans at the event and left an extra 44 seconds at the end to make the song duration 5:22, the date of the tragedy, to honor the victims. “Better off”, I assume, is about her harsh breakup with rapper, Mac Miller.

Tracks like “The light is coming” and “Blazed”, were annoying with the random samples in the background that truly threw me off. For an album that is supposed to show her overcoming hardships, the strange ad-libs were were like annoying gnats flying around my ears. I seriously wanted to swat those repetitive samples away. This is a major part of the inconsistency of “Sweetener”.

Cover art for the album “Sweetener” by Ariana Grande.

Grande has always been known to have a bubbly, sweet music style and over the years has started to mature with her sound respectively. However, with this album, it almost seems as if she is confused with what she was trying to make. The tracks are all over the place; one song Grande is going with a 90s R&B route and the next it is a strange futuristic-techno sound.

There are some sweet spots in this album, however, one being “Everytime”. The track truly gives off a solid R&B sound with no confusion and Grande truly shows off her range this love song. Another song, “Breathin” beautifully showcases the strength in the talented Grande’s voice.

Sadly, this seems like an album one would jump around and pick random songs to listen to, rather than enjoy the album as a whole. I expected more out of Grande, with her two amazing singles “No tears left to cry” and “God is a woman” (even though she still could’ve done more with her voice in these two tracks). The two songs were charming and showed a different side of Grande.

Even though this album was quite the disappointment, I would like to think of this as a trial and error type of album. Grande was trying something new with her sound so I am truly excited to see what the the future holds for her. I hope she can truly bring the light into the darkness with her next album.

Rating: 3.3/5

Favorites: God is a woman, Everytime, Breathin, No tears left to cry, 

Least Favorites: The light is coming (feat. Nicki Minaj), Sweetener, Blazed ( feat. Pharrell Williams)

Favorite lyrics: not any in this album

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