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Original photo by Molly Van Gorp
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Ariana Grande Encourages us to Manifest, Finesse, Read a Book and Let Down our Hair with Her New Album

Ariana Grande has done it once again. Her week-old album Positions beautifully blends pop and R&B in 41 minutes of passionate positivity. It’s flirty, sassy and bubbly, yet deeply reflective and spiritual. Jazz underrones infuse Positions with a distinctly 90s, R&B edge, while lyrical, pop moments bring us back to 2020. Each song feels like an intimate conversation, and in classic Ariana fashion, we never feel too low as lively hits follow emotional moments. With its witty lyrics, reminiscent of “MONOPOLY,” jazzy instrumentals and creative acoustics, Positions is guaranteed to make you smile, dance, giggle and maybe even tear up after “pov.” Positions feels like a playfully progressive combination of Sweetener and thank u, next, but without the heartbreak and sorrow: an optimistic outcome of her past two years. OG Ari shines through in “my hair” and “love language.” She’s returning to her Broadway roots as these tunes echo “Honeymoon Avenue,” “Baby I” and “Lovin’ It” from 2013’s Yours Truly

As the album’s namesake, “positions” itself certainly doesn’t disappoint. After listening to this song 50 times it never gets old, something that, in my view, can’t be said of “thank u, next” or “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored.” In comparison, “positions” seems fresher than its compatible predecessors.

Above all else, what I appreciate most about this album is its underlying messages of living in the moment, loving life and learning to let your guard down. I could rave for hours about anything Ari, so without further ado, let’s dive into the songs. Here are my top three favorites from the albums, apart from “positions” itself.

“just like magic”

  • This is my favorite song of the album, and possibly, of all time. For lack of a better term, “just like magic” just has the best energy. With soft sassy vibes, it’s truly magic to your ears, and to your mood. “Just like magic” is like the “successful” of Sweetener. It makes you feel confident, inspired and fantastic, like the world is your oyster, and you’re the main character. Grande hypes us up with the sassy lines “Good karma, my aesthetic” and “Manifest it, I finessed it.” Recently I’ve been fascinated by manifestation, a concept popularized on Tik Tok that encourages us to achieve our own life goals by believing in our capabilities. It’s the adult version of “dream it and it will happen.” Grande follows with “Take my pen and write some love / That has to happen.” And of course it has to happen because we’ve manifested it. This is what I love about Grande’s lyrics. The pop culture references are always so current, so relevant and so on point, but her message of self love is timeless. Play this song while getting ready in the morning, and it’ll guarantee productivity. 

“safety net (feat. Ty Dolla $ign)”

  • This song is about falling head first in love without worrying about getting hurt. It’s a response to thank u, next’s “in my head,” where Grande reflects upon a past relationship built only a fantasy — possibly with her ex Pete Davidson. Like “in my head,” “safety net” is moody, passionate, and a bit dramatic. The way she coos “tripping, falling” displays Grande’s incredible vocal range. The line “Is it real this time or is it in my head?” is a direct lyrical reference to “in my head.” Allusions to Pete and other ex’s are apparent when Grande claims she “came to peace with my path.” These subtle references and hidden insights are endless in “safety net.” 

“my hair”

  • “My hair,” i.e. the hidden gem of this album, imitates the jazzy melody of “Jason’s Song” but in a more low-key fashion. The lighthearted topic — her famed ponytail — contrasts her sultry voice and the bluesy melody so perfectly. But the best part of this song is that it keeps building and building until it reaches the ultimate climax, which is perfectly encapsulated in this video. She’s showing off that out-of-this-world soprano range, as her voice fades into a high pitched whisper behind the smooth instrumentals. It’s surprising to me that this isn’t one of the starred songs from Positions. Hence, I’ve deemed it the hidden gem, a song worth gatekeeping, like “Greedy” from Dangerous Woman or “Hands On Me (feat. A$AP Ferg)” from My Everything.
My name is Molly Van Gorp, and I’m a freshman at Northwestern from just outside of Evanston. Last year I took a gap year, where I interned in the fundraising and development department at an education nonprofit called Bottom Line. I’m currently planning to major in Sociology; minor in the Farley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation; and take a costume design class or two along the way. I'm passionate about all things lifestyle, and my ultimate my goal is to pursue a career in the fashion and/or beauty industry.
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