Ariana Grande’s “Positions” lightened up the flop of the year that is 2020.
“Positions” is practically a scrapbook of each era that Grande released throughout her career, yet she pushes her pop boundaries into the R&B realm. Everything about this album is cute, romantic, lustful and everything that is representative of the popstar wrapped into 41 minutes.
To open this new musical journey, a fairy-tale cinematic introduces us. “Shut Up” tops my favorite Grande intro from “Yours Truly” and “Honeymoon Avenue” because it is a blunt, fun way to tell someone to stop being negative. It slaps positivity into our faces with Grande shutting up critics and those who thrive in negativity.
“34+35” is a sexual math problem in a song. This also alludes to a sexual position, which puns with the “Positions” title. The outro of the song also gives us a relatable line, “Math class, never was good.” It is brilliantly sexual and playful.
The third track on the album is “Motive.” This track is the first time Grande collaborated with rapper Doja Cat. As suggested by the title, the song questions a person’s motive in a relationship. There is a touch of fear between the lines. Doja’s feature added more to the song, and her impeccable flow made the track.
My favorite song on “Positions” is “Just Like Magic.” Is it the most lyrically defining song or the best on the album? Not really, but it embodies positivity, which we need right now in a non-corny, forced way. “Just Like Magic,” alludes to the Law of Attraction philosophy, which posits that we attract int our lives what we focus on.
Collaborating with her 2014 “Love Me Harder” counterpart, Grande creates perfect vocal synergy with Canadian R&B singer The Weeknd on the track “Off The Table.” Whenever The Weeknd is on a track, the production is so intense and moody. This song is vocal heaven. In her interview on the Zach Sang Show, Grande expressed how she wanted to shift from narratives to singing. She conquered her goal with this song.
My first impression of “Six Thirty” was that it was lackluster compared to the song before it. The chorus repeats itself to me, especially during the middle of the album. However, Grande explained that it means “are you down?,” Representing how both hands are facing down on an analog clock.
The midway point of the album is track seven, “Safety Net.” This track features Ty Dolla $ign, who surprised me. It is his first collaboration with Grande. The track again treads closer into R&B territory, specifically old school ‘90s R&B. Produced by The Rascals, a prominent producer behind Grande’s first album, this song feels like a throwback for older fans.
“My Hair” addresses the saga and infatuation around Grande’s hair. In her 2019 hit, “7 Rings” Grande alludes to her hair with the lines “You like my hair? Gee, thanks, just bought it.” “My Hair” reveals the
characterization and identity tied to Grande’s hair. She ties her natural curls of hair to her off-time and taking off her work uniform.
Bringing in Grande’s iconic whistle tones, “Nasty” continues Grande’s exploration of her sexuality.
“West Side” gifts us the best pre-chorus on “Positions.” ‘90s influence is dashed into the production along with Grande’s hush and deep notes.
If you need more proof that Grande is the vocalist of our generation, please listen to the chorus in “Love Language.” As “Positions” progresses, Grande experiments with both her vocal ability, R&B elements, and her vulnerability.
The title track, “Positions” displays Grande’s flexibility between genres and commitment. To promote the lead single, Grande portrayed herself as president of the United States.
The love child of “Yours Truly” and “Sweetener” is “Obvious.” It is a simple adorable love song, blending both albums sonically.
To conclude this work of art, “POV” closes with a flood of strings and a fresh concept. Instead of giving us another mushy love song, Grande takes the idea of how someone could love your imperfections while you do not. This song questions how a person loves you and your flaws when you do not love yourself as they do.
“Thank U, Next” stands as her best album. The work of art holds such intimacy and lush vulnerability that solidifies Grande as a true pop star. To compare albums is unfair. Yet, “Thank U, Next” defined her career.
“Positions” is not another pop album for Grande. Her storytelling opens up another world that we have not yet seen. Grande exceptional growth as a writer, even though her lyrics are not the most poetic and metaphorical. She tells her story without any hesitation.