Review: Ariana Grande's Positions

With coronavirus cases rising in England again and a month-long lockdown looming on the horizon, the end of October had me desperate for some good news. Seemingly in answer to my pleas, the universe offered me this: a whole new Ariana Grande album. As is characteristic of the singer’s past two albums, the tones constantly edge between RnB and pop, though this newest album also interjects sound influences from the 70s and 80s. Though on my first complete listen-through I thought that there was a lack of notable distinction between all the songs, the more that I listen now the more that each of the songs start to stand out to me in their own way – enough for me to now have firm favourites and others that I’m not as fond of.

The standout songs to me on the album are “motive”, “just like magic” and “positions”. My affinity for “positions” surely needs no explanation given that it’s the first and (so far) only single from the album – an uplifting, affectionate song, complete with its own music video (because who doesn’t want to see Ariana Grande as President?). “motive” and “just like magic” both stick with the fun charm that “positions” provides, but each in its own way. “motive” is at the very top of my list, and not just because the Doja Cat feature means two of my favourite artists on one song, but because it’s one of those tunes that gets you dancing around your room whenever it’s on (whilst also desperately trying to pretend that the clubs are still open). “just like magic” possesses a contrasting vibe to this, but one that is just as captivating. Grande, in a mere two and a half minutes, offers us an insight into some of her daily self-care routines that definitely didn’t make me want to start trying out those manifestation trends that have been creeping up on me across the Internet. The lyrics are like a musical reminder to smile, therapeutic in their delivery across the magical synth sounds in the background.

I didn’t want to make my favourites list too long by including almost all of the songs, but I am also particularly fond of “shut up”, “34+35” and “pov”. “shut up” and “34+35” are the first two songs on the album and manage to successfully introduce the project as truthful and unapologetic, as well as marking it as Grande’s most explicit album to date. “pov” is the very final song, an abbreviation for “point of view”, and feels like a breath of fresh air. After an album also focused on anxieties and struggles surrounding the idea of falling in love again, Grande finalises the album by revealing she has someone who loves her so whole-heartedly that it also makes her want to love herself more. On the other hand, some of the songs from the album that stand out less are “obvious”, “six thirty” and “west side” as I find they have weaker lyrics and are overshadowed by the other powerful songs surrounding them. And whilst “Positions” still may not have breached the top spot that the “Dangerous Woman” album holds in my heart to this day, it has certainly earned itself a space up there on the list. So, cheers to Ariana for giving me the soundtrack to my next month of quarantine, and I’m sure I’ll be able to recite every word by the time December rolls around!