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Ariana Grande – 'Sweetener' – First Day Review

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S W E E T E N E R

Ariana Grande

first day listen review

 

 

1. Raindrops (An Angel Cried)

It's kind of difficult to review this song. She sounds absolutely gorgeous, of course, but it's a very short track with very little to it. It's difficult for me to fully rate or score intros, outros, or interludes.

 

2. Blazed (featuring Pharrell Williams)

Pharrell is one of those producers that has a very distinct style. It is very evident in this song. Some people hate his productions, other love it – I'm somewhere in between. I think this song works. It reminds me a bit of his 'Happy', but with a subtle yet bubblier vibe to it. Ariana's vocalizations, layers, and harmonizations are really gorgeous. I enjoy this song a fair amount. I imagine I'll bop to it more as I listen to the album, but it didn't give me tingles or anything.

 

3. The Light Is Coming (featuring Nicki Minaj)

Nicki's involvement in this song is extremely unneeded. She fit so well into 'Side to Side' and even had multiple verses throughout the song. It was a true collaboration. In this song, however, Nicki raps an intro verse and you forget she was even apart of it at all once the song starts going in. This is a weird song. It's catchy but not really in the type of way you want to bop to it. The chorus has been described as annoying and tragic. I think that's a little harsh, but it can be a bit irritating. I think the beat is funky and the verses have a lot of flavor to it. Definitely one of my lesser liked tracks on the album, but it's not terrible, imo.

 

4. R.E.M.

I'm honestly not surprised that this is Ari's favorite song at the moment. I noticed that she used a sample from Imogen Heap in a later song in the album, and although it is not this one, I feel like 'R.E.M.' is like a marriage between Pharrell's funky R&B, repetitive productions and the electronic, dreamlike quality of Imogen's music. The song is smooth and sensual yet quick; Ari switches between spitting out lyrics and gorgeously arranged layered vocals. Although there are various hooks, the song itself is a little here and there, adding to the dream-like quality of it. I think it's brilliant and is my current favorite.

 

5. God Is A Woman

This is probably my favorite single released thus far. Ariana mixes a little bit of R&B/Hip-Hop in the verses with the pop, sonically sound vocals of the choruses. This is one of the few songs where she truly goes off on the vocal performance. I think 'God Is A Woman' was the perfect follow-up to 'No Tears Left To Cry'. It follows a modern pop sensibility but steps it up a notch. This entire album is a little more chill, but 'God is a Woman' has a lot of oomph to it. A bop, tbh, and in my top 5, probably. It's solid and I hope it gets rejuvenated on the charts.

 

6. Sweetener

Boy this chorus was disappointing. The song starts with a really vibrant and light-hearted beat. The verses are full of content and the pre-choruses are really sweet and I quite like the piano accompaniment during those moments. However, the chorus just threw me off and it's just... dumb. This might grow on me, and it has enough positive qualities for me to not skip it during my listen-throughs. But it's definitely low on the rating scale.

 

7. Successful

Again, the chorus had be going "huh?", but the instrumental to this song is so interesting, I vibed with it immediately. It's really hard for me for me to pinpoint what it exactly it reminds me of. It almost reminds me of like... 2000s video game music? I wish I could articulate it some more, but all I know is that I really love it. Ariana's vocals are really gorgeous, of course – particularly in the "it's a surprise / surprise" parts. Some of the vocal arrangements in some sections actually reminded me a bit of Destiny's Child or something? The lyrics of the chorus caught me off guard. Upon first listen they seem narcissistic and not related to the rest of the song, but I'll have to look at the lyrics and see if Ari explains this song at all. This is an odd song to describe and pin down, but I adore it a lot. I'll be bopping to it.

 

8. Everytime

(Now thanks to both Britney and Ariana I will continue to think that 'everytime' is one word...) I feel like this is a very standard, uptempo ballad-y type pop song you would expect on an Ariana record. However, I think it's a very good one. It kinda reminds me of 'Sometimes' from Dangerous Woman, not because they sound alike or about the same thing, but I think they serve kind of the same purpose. I actually found some relief when this song came on because it is very accessible. I think the lyrics are very intriguing and honest, though. "I get drunk pretend that I'm over it / self-destruct / show up like an idiot" was a line that grabbed me. It actually reminded me as the opposite scenario of 'New Rules' by Dua. I quite like this one a lot.

 

9. Breathin

The beginning jingle and jangles reminded me of Gold Panda immediately. I think it is no surprise (considering that the GP is already latching onto it) that it could be a contender for the next single. I think it's something of a No Tears Left to Cry 2.0. but with its own flavor, of course. It reminds me a lot of other types of pure pop songs released in the past couple years, but people are still here for. It's got that Ali Payami (Taylor's 'Style' and Ari's 'Love Me Harder') feeling to it. Something of a tropical flavor. Which is all good stuff. I love the sound. It's catchy and it bops. That being said, I love the actual message. Ariana explained it was about anxiety/anxiety attacks. ("People tell me to medicate") You can hear muffled voices/crowds during the verses and it has a tender side to it's message. Not only does the breathing calm her down, but it is her new lover: "but you tell me every time".

 

10. No Tears Left To Cry

This is a bop and a classic. Not much to say about it anymore since it's been out for months. I latched onto it quickly and listened to it over and over. That being said, I have a hard time connecting first singles to the album when it's finally released. It always feels... detached somehow. It still works in the vibe of the album, don't get me wrong, but it somehow still sounds... separate?

 

11. Borderline (featuring Missy Elliot)

We return to the Pharrell side of the album. This had a little more urban-electronic flavor to it. This is a pretty middle-of-the-road song for me, and it's probably one I will forget about when I'm not listening to the album on repeat anymore. However, I do enjoy it a bit. It's a smooth jam and it's fun to listen to. Not necessarily a "turn up" bop, but I think its placement in the album serves its purpose.

 

12. Better Off

I don't have much to say about this song in depth but I really, really like it. It's a really tender, bittersweet ballad that tells an emotional story. I wish it was a bit longer, especially the string accompaniment towards the end, but that's okay. A very solid song.

 

13. Goodnight N Go

Along with 'Breathin', I which this song's intro was incorporated into the song a bit more. The beginning of this song has a starlight, almost chiptune-esque twinkle to it before the "beat" drops. This is one of my favorite songs on the album, for sure. It feels very magical and intimate. I love how that the verses don't follow the same arrangement. The second verse is just... spectacular. The music falls away to make way for Ariana's vocals, which are soaring up in a vulnerable, sweet head voice. It fits so well with the lyrics, which are narrative in nature.

 

14. Pete Davidson

I actually like this song, but it's too bad it's too short. It has a nice flow to it, with a sweet nature to it. But it just kind of fades away fifty seconds into it when I just wanted it to go on. I don't think people can say this is song is bad (because of its namesake), but I would definitely say it's unfulfilling.

 

15. Get Well Soon

Wow! On my third listen of this song I realized that its style reminds me a lot of her debut album, actually. It has a lot to do with the tempo, beat, and piano. I will say that the entire album makes such stellar use of layering Ari's harmonizing vocals, but this track is a perfect example of how she and the producers do it. If you just stop and pay attention you'll notice that her vocals are everywhere on this song. It's songs like this that makes me feel like Ariana is really finding her footing as who she is as an artist. I don't know who is making a song that sounds like this right now. It is a stellar closer and one of my favorites as well. (although idk why there's a minute of silence at the end of the track)

 

Favorite Tracks:

(not including the two official singles)

 

- R.E.M.
- Goodnight N Go
- Breathin
- Get Well Soon
- Successful

 

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