So far this year, the music released in 2020 has been fairly hit or miss. Aside from Conan Gray’s infectious “Kid Krow” and Taylor Swift’s dreamy “Folklore,” there have been very few albums that have stayed with me this year.
That being said, when Ariana Grande announced the arrival of her sixth studio album, “Positions,” via Twitter on Oct. 14, I was incredibly excited. It’s no secret that I’m a massive Ariana Grande fan and after the release of the album’s catchy lead single, the impending addition to Grande’s discography looked incredibly promising.
It’s safe to say that Grande delivered a mature, R&B-inspired and exceedingly solid follow-up to her much loved “Thank U, Next” album. Despite some mixed responses from fans online, the album received generally positive reviews from critics, currently holding a 72% on Metacritic and the number one spot on the Billboard 200.
As I have been listening to “Positions” non-stop for the past week and a half, I feel it’s only fitting that I formulate a definitive ranking of the album’s fourteen tracks.
Which track did I think was deserving of the number one slot? You’ll have to keep reading to find out!
14. “West Side”
Although it pains me to say so, “West Side” finds itself at the bottom of this list. The song chronicles Grande wanting a more carefree romance, one without expectations and the pressures that accompany the beginning of a new relationship. While the song is backed by a steady, catchy beat, it leaves very little room for Grande’s impressive vocal range and leaves no real lasting impression in its short two minutes.
Grande lays it all on the line in this track, asking “could I be more obvious?” about her feelings for the song’s nameless love interest. The highlight of this song is its memorable, upbeat chorus which encapsulates the all-too-familiar emotions that come with a newfound relationship.
12. “Shut Up”
The essence of this song is captured in its straightforward title. Grande doesn’t hold back from telling her harsher critics in the public eye to, well, shut up. The contrast of the track’s string instrumentals and Grande’s heavenly harmonies with the song’s blunt lyrics are nearly comical, but Grande manages to make it work effortlessly.
11. “Six Thirty”
The sheer catchiness of this song nearly brings it into the top ten of my list. Grande once again ponders the early stages of a relationship, but here, she wonders how willing the object of her affection will be to fully commit to the potentially less glamorous aspects of a romantic relationship. The track is very reminiscent of something that could be found on Grande’s 2018 album, “Sweetener,” and while enjoyable to listen to, this song doesn’t showcase Grande’s growth as an artist quite as well as some of the other songs in my top ten.
10. “Love Language”
In my opinion, “Love Language” is an underrated gem. Grande’s vocals are breezy and sultry in this flirtatious song full of linguistic wordplay. Whether or not you speak Grande’s love language, this song’s infectious chorus and its backing of hypnotic strings will keep you coming back to this song.
Grande and Doja Cat up the tempo for this track while questioning their partners’ intentions with their blossoming romantic relationships. The combined forces of Grande and Doja Cat had fans anticipating a collaboration at the level of Grande and Nicki Minaj’s “Side to Side.” Sadly, this collaboration, while full of zest and supported by a catchy syncopated beat, still left something to be desired. Although this track outshines those previously listed, this song had the potential to be in my top five if Grande’s and Doja Cat’s powerhouse talents were utilized equally. Nevertheless, I have no doubt this fun and carefree track will be circulating radio stations in no time.
This title track truly sets the tone of the album. “Positions” is all about doting on your romantic partner and “jumping through hoops” to show your love for them. However, there’s more to this fun pop song than meets the eye. In its accompanying music video, we are treated to watching Grande as an unabashedly feminine president of the United States. In the video, which has racked up over eighty-million views, Grande demonstrates that women can be both the leader of an entire country and simultaneously part of a loving relationship. Talk about switchin’ the positions for you.
7. “Just Like Magic”
“Just Like Magic” is all about the law of attraction as Grande sings, “I get everything I want ’cause I attract it.” Brimming with confidence and optimism, Grande’s ode to manifestation is backed with a fitting trap beat. If you ever want to start your day on a good note, this is the perfect song to play.
Grande and The Weeknd reunite six years after their hit single “Love Me Harder” for this gorgeous ballad about finding love after loss. Lyrically complex and emotionally raw, this seamless duet is an introspective look at attempting to move on from a seemingly irreplaceable love. Grande and The Weeknd’s vocal chemistry remains very much intact, and is particularly goosebump-inducing on the song’s emotionally-heavy bridge when Grande sings, “Not yet healed already / Shouldn’t be going too steady / Just want to know is love completely off the table?”
5. “My Hair”
If there’s one thing Ariana Grande is known for, it’s her iconic ponytail. So, it seems only fitting that Grande would dedicate a song to her signature tresses. This track truly showcases Grande’s impressive vocal chops as she belts, “But don’t you be scared / To run your hands through my hair” on the song’s chorus. Grande is also not shy to incorporate some staggering whistle tones when drawing this song to a memorable close.
If the suggestive lyrics didn’t already clue you in, you only need to do basic math to understand what Grande is alluding to on this track. In an interview with radio personality Zach Sang, Grande explained that the song began as a joke between her and her fellow songwriters. But as the song began to take shape, Grande eventually felt it deserved a spot on “Positions.” Despite its more risque lines, Grande still manages to craft a ridiculously catchy pop song that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
“Safety Net” is another “Positions” track that I think is vastly underrated. Joined by Ty Dolla $ign, Grande sings about leaping into a new relationship and making herself vulnerable to potential heartbreak. Ty Dolla $ign surprisingly complements Grande in this earnest ballad backed by intoxicating percussion. Unassuming at first, this gorgeous ballad is sure to creep its way into your top five favorites from the album.
Slightly more subdued than “34+35,” “Nasty” is an easy standout on the album. With the clear potential to become the album’s next single, this track provides Grande with the freedom to display her vocal prowess against hypnotic instrumentals. Out of “Positions’” entire tracklist, this song is the one most likely to be stuck in your head for days to come.
Without a doubt, “POV” supersedes every other track for the number one spot on this ranking. Arguably one of Grande’s best songs to date, “POV” is a vulnerable exploration of how we are viewed by those we love. This song not only stands out from a lyric, production, and vocal standpoint, but its clear R&B influence and angelic harmonies cement it as one of Grande’s greatest masterpieces. It’s safe to say, I already added it to the potential playlist for my future wedding.
Well there you have it, collegiettes, all fourteen “Positions” tracks in a definitive ranking. Now that you’ve seen my picks, there’s no time like the present to listen to the album and see how our opinions compare!
You can listen to “Positions” here.