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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at U Penn chapter.

As an Ariana Grande fan, it’s easy to imagine how excited I was when she tweeted that she was dropping her sixth album by the end of October. After releasing Sweetener in 2018 and Thank U, Next in 2019, Ariana Grande has emerged as one of the biggest pop stars in the world. This new album has hints of an RnB tone, with Grande focusing on production, even engineering many of the songs. Seeing as I’ve had this album on repeat for the past week, here’s my thoughts on each song.

shut up

The opening song of the album begins with a beautiful layered harmony of strings, which gives way to shorter string strokes as Grande begins softly rapping. “shut up” focuses on people that judge Grande’s life too heavily. Being a worldwide superstar, she lets people know that they should “shut up” and stop “worrying about [her]” life. With the orchestral background contrasting lighthearted, yet serious lyrics, Grande achieves a fun track that still feels sophisticated.

34 + 35

As the math clearly shows, Grande’s second song is a lighthearted piece about sex. In an interview, she said that the background music sounded so pure, she wondered, “What is the dirtiest possible, most opposing lyric we could write to this?” The song is catchy and upbeat, with Grande jokingly asking her partner to “gimme them babies.” It’s fun, flirty, and Grande’s clever lyrics and ad-libs shine through.

motive (with Doja Cat)

Reminiscent of the sound of Grande’s album Thank U, Next, this song has a trap beat backing her vocals. Although it wasn’t my favorite when I first listened to it, it slowly grew on me –  it’s just really catchy. Doja Cat and Grande’s voices fit well together, with both rapping and singing on the beat. 

just like magic

While this song also has somewhat of a trap beat, it feels very forward-thinking, and, dare I say, “magical.” The song alludes to the law of attraction and manifestation, as Grande ultimately claims that she can get everything she wants because she attracts it, singing “losing friends left and right, but I just send them love and light.” To me, the message was very optimistic, reminding me of the song “successful,” from her previous album, Sweetener

off the table (with the Weeknd)

Coming off of “just like magic,” this song is much slower, almost heartbreaking. Full of synth and strings, it shows Grande pondering whether or not love is “completely off the table” after a failed past relationship. In her second collaboration with the Weeknd, their voices coalesce together beautifully to represent the pain of heartbreak and the healing required to move forward.

six thirty

When an analog clock is at 6:30, both hands point down – so, throughout this song, Grande is asking whether her partner is “down” to be serious with her. A soft song with a few strings, it feels cozy, with casual-sounding lyrics actually asking serious questions (“when I’m old and stuff, will you still have a crush?”) By using soft, high notes and a conversational tone, the song achieves a calming sound, like the security of a long-term relationship. 

safety net (feat. Ty Dolla $ign)

For lack of a better description, the vibe of this song is just truly beautiful. A soft trap beat with a hazy overlay, Grande and $ign sing about falling in love and how it can be scary to take that leap with no “safety net.”  Grande references her song “in my head” from Thank U, Next, wondering if it’s “real this time or in my head.” My favorite collaboration on the album, I love how both voices flow and harmonize together, representing the excitement and fear of falling for someone.

my hair

One of Grande’s signature features is the long ponytail she often sports instead of her naturally curly hair. In this song, she tells her partner to run their hands through her natural hair, putting her in a vulnerable position. It’s beautifully executed with a jazzy sound, but the most incredible part is the last chorus, which is sung completely in the whistle register. Grande proves again that her vocal abilities are unmatched.


A sexy piece, “nasty” is set to a beautiful background with hints of a trap beat. As someone who’s been criticized for singing about her sex life, the 27-year-old lets us know that she doesn’t care (and she’s right!) Her soft vocals combined with an intro reminiscent of her first song with Mac Miller, “The Way,” make this a beautiful listen.

 west side

Although this song is only 2 minutes and 13 seconds long, it creates a unique atmosphere with soft tones and a repeating cascade of electronic tones. Grande utilizes her voice as an instrument, layering it on top of itself to expose her vulnerabilities. 

love language

Opening with catchy, repeated strokes on a violin, Grande sings along to the beat of a chill background that has both piano and orchestral tones. The verses highlight her vocal abilities, and in the chorus, she reverts back to a sharper pitch to match the violin. Singing about love languages, Grande focuses on learning her partner’s love language and appreciates that they understand hers. It’s lovey without being cheesy. The outro, which comes as a surprise, shows off her rapping, similar to her song “7 rings.”


The lead single of the album, “positions” is catchy and accompanied by a powerful music video. Grande speaks about switching positions both in and out of the bedroom, as she asserts that women can be in any position they want  – the music video also preaches female empowerment. The pizzicato in the background, combined with the beautiful layers of her voice, creates a chill and mature track that showcases her growth as a woman.


After wondering whether love was “off the table,” Grande comes back to talk about how she has fallen in love again (aw:’) She expresses the love she has for her partner, and it’s heartwarming to see the healing that has occurred. Though it’s not a love ballad, it’s soft and simple, highlighting the simple joys that love offers.


This song is hands-down my favorite on the album. Grande expresses that she wants to see herself from her partner’s POV to understand how they love both her “pretty” and “ugly.” The ending song of the album, it closes with vulnerability as Grande says, “I want to trust me the way that you trust me.” It’s beautifully done, and she uses her soft but strong vocals to convey a message all of us can relate to. “pov” is reminiscent of some of Grande’s old ballads, but it’s also a beautifully honest piece. Grande is known for her honesty in both music and life, and this will forever be remembered as one of her greatest songs, both lyrically and vocally.

Overall, I absolutely loved this album. It’s what I think a child of Sweetener and Yours Truly would look like, with a healing sound and a re-emergence of her RnB roots. As she continues to heal, we are given a mature, yet vulnerable album. She’s in love, but also expresses her fears. It doesn’t feel like a radio-made album; instead, it’s just open and passionate. 

Dhatri is a freshman at the University of Pennsylvania who is majoring in Networked and Social Systems Engineering. She's from Michigan, but she's super excited to be spending the next four years in Philly. When she isn't journaling or cooking, you can probably find her somewhere eating ice cream, painting her nails, and listening to Ariana Grande.