Tune In: Grande switches positions

Pop singer Ariana Grande’s last two albums, “Sweetener” and “Thank U, Next,” were both written during her darkest times: after the terrorist attack at a concert in Manchester, the death of her ex-boyfriend Mac Miller and a breakup with her ex-fiance Pete Davidson. However,  Grande’s newest album, “Positions,” introduces a greater sense of comfort in her vulnerability and shares a new chapter in her life in which she finds her individuality. 

The opening track, “Shut Up,” relays the buildup of pressure under scrutiny she faces in public in the form of a direct address to her haters. Her lyrics, “how you be using your time?… you know you sound so dumb, so maybe you should shut up,” blatantly tell them to “shut up” and mind their own business. This attitude is gracefully embodied by the use of orchestra strings alongside an R&B beat in the track.

This album moves away from Grande’s usual pop toward R&B and musical theater with her songs “Six Thirty” and “Obvious,” but they fall short; they made me miss her trademark vocals and lyrical persona. Grande also combined some late 1990s-style R&B with her signature falsettos in “My Hair” and “Shut Up.”

On her song “Safety Net,” Grande collaborates with rapper Ty Dolla $ign as she embraces her vulnerability and uncertainty toward her new relationship with real estate agent Dalton Gomez. Contrary to  previous songs like “Love Me Harder,” she sings about easing her way into love  rather than rushing into things. With her lyrics, “I’ve never been this scared before, feelings I just can’t ignore,” she sings about her fear that she will repeat her past breakups. 

The album’s  title track, “Positions,” was released on Oct. 21, though it’s not quite on par with the other songs in the collection. The  music has a medium tempo accompanied by instrumental strings and has a similar persona to “God is a Woman,” but without the gradual upbeat music. 

The last track on  this album,  “pov,” stands out to me the most. The music highlights instruments such as the cello and viola, which resembled her slight shift to musical theater. In her lyrics she mentions “I wanna love me the way that you love me, I’d love to see me from your point of view,” as she starts to find her individuality. The lyrics were a breath of fresh air as she sings about her desire to love herself as much as her partner does. The song ends off with a gradually growing silence, closing the album. 

Compared to her previous albums, the newest release falls short of her usual belting and upbeat songs. In her 2018 release “Sweetener,” there was a range of ballads and bursts of energetic songs, from slower songs like “pete davidson,” to pop tracks like “God is a woman”  and “no tears left to cry” which had people dancing to its dynamic beat as soon as it released. 

In “Positions,” however, there was no dramatic contrast in her vocal range nor the music itself, and almost the entire tracklist had a similar chill, upbeat tone. Her title track “Positions” and her closing track “pov” were the only ones that had the dramatic flare of Grande’s signature vocals. 

With her newest release, Grande experiments with different genres of music and shows a better side of herself.  But I preferred the Grande of  her previous album “Dangerous Woman” much more.