Ariana has been releasing music since 2011, slowly transitioning away from her breakout role as Cat Valentine in Nickelodeon’s hit show Victorious, making her one of the strongest artists of the 2010s. She reached her peak with the back-to-back releases of her fourth and fifth studio albums, sweetener and thank u, next, released within six months of each other. Whilst experiencing unimaginable trauma, Ariana’s music transitioned from generic pop to emotional and personal lyrics over classical music-inspired R&B beats that have come simultaneous with her artistry.
With Positions, Ariana has further mastered the sound that she has been trying to master over her whole career. Putting orchestral strings alongside a trap beat shouldn’t work, but with her luscious vocals it sounds magical. The album is extremely sonically cohesive, which is both a drawback and an advantage. It can feel repetitive, putting some of the less ‘in-your-face’ songs, such as westside and shut up, in a regrettably forgettable position. There’s nothing wrong with them, they just fall short in comparison to their counterparts.
The same goes for the male features on this album, safety net (with Ty Dolla $ign) and off the table (with the Weeknd). Both songs are pretty chill R&B songs, reminiscent of Best Mistake (feat. Big Sean) on My Everything or Let Me Love You (feat. Lil Wayne) on Dangerous Woman, that I wouldn’t recognise if they punched me in the face. To be honest, Ariana doesn’t need any features on her albums, let alone whiny male artists interfering with the empowering narrative of the album. motive (with doja cat) is the best of all the features on the album, mainly due to the funky beat and infectious chorus that makes it impossible to sit still to, but it’s nowhere near her best feature (which we all know is Break Your Heart Right Back (feat. Childish Gambino) on My Everything).
Lyrically, Ariana has come into her own. She’s brutally honest on this album, both about her relationships and her own success. In just like magic she sings “I get everything I want ‘cause I attract it” which isn’t a lie. Her lyrics are fun, energetic, and wacky at times, exuding a confidence that she knows she has. I mean who else could sing “gimme them babies” or write a whole song about the position of the arms of a clock? Nobody else would ever dare, just the icon herself.
Although Positions is not my favorite album from Ariana, it’s a logical next step for her. She’s done the big pop albums and club bangers, now she’s ready to chill out and make music that she genuinely enjoys making. Positions may not be as loud as thank u, next or as experimental as sweetener, but it feels authentic to Ariana and where she wants to be in her career and personal life. At this stage, everything Ariana releases is an instant hit. However, I don’t see this album as having a massive cultural impact like her previous releases, as it’s simply just not as strong or memorable.
Overall review- 6.5/10
Faves on the album: pov, my hair, 34+35, just like magic, love language