By Milan Flagler, Staff Writer
Ariana Grande released her sixth studio album on Oct. 30. The album told the story of Grande’s maturity through herself and experiences gained over the years of her musical career. The album spoke to a different side of Grande, one that was introduced as a new sound. “Positions” is the reconciliation of the self, in this case, of Grande. Grande spoke on themes of growth through pain and loss, and the heights of joy derived from pleasure and love. The elements of the album are still familiar to Grande, her high tones, softs mhm’s, and eccentric beats gave vision to her lyrics.
“Positions” spoke to a new, mature set of fans that Grande has garnered over the past few years thanks to collaborations with well-known artists like Nicki Minaj, A$AP Ferg, Major Lazer, Victoria Monet, Normani, Future, Childish Gambino, The Weeknd, Ty Doll $ign, and Doja Cat. Leading up to the album, Grande has been in the public eye for her relationship with Pete Davidson, the loss of Mac-Miller and a terrorist attack at one of her shows in Manchester. The core of “Positions” revolves around taking tangible pain and making something from it. The end message of the album is to own your pain, to let it make you stronger and to take more control of more areas of your life with this added strength.
“She’s coming into a new style of music,” senior psychology major Alissa Vitale said. “Ariana has a combination of Hip Hop, R&B, and Pop all into one album. This was a smart move because I feel this way, she could incorporate interest from all of her fan groups into one, great album. Throughout her studio album collection, you can see her begin to grow and dabble with sounds. This last album is the cherry on top. On “Positions”, I feel like she literally wanted to show everything that she’s mastered and learned thus far. As it is a goodbye to her first studio album collection, she introduces us to what she has in store for us.”
Aside from the self-awareness factors of her album, Grande speaks on her maturity through her sexual freedom, love, and self-sustaining strength. Riddled with sexual innuendos and references, Grande’s album celebrates the fact that her sexuality and sexual life is owned by her, showing she’s not afraid to take control and take things at her own pace.
“This is a new Ariana,” senior Jayden Greensgrove said. “ Of course, I’ve grown up with the Disney star, more so known for her Disney channel work and minor songs. I’ve always seen her in that little girl Disney light, even as she worked more and more with other artists. I feel like this album, “Positions,” really displayed her growth and maturity! Some of the lyrics had me yelling in agreeance, “Okay Ariana!” She really showed her range with this album. Even I was having flashbacks and love-dovey memories of certain ex’s I dealt with.”
“Off the Table,” a song made in collaboration with The Weeknd, spoke to the feelings of moving on, picking up, and learning to accept the love you deserve for yourself. The lyrics sung between the two acts as a conversation between two lovers, deciding when it is the right time to enter a relationship. On Grandes end, she was still picking herself up from her previous relationship, learning how to move on and accept what’s lost. The new lover, The Weeknd, is waivered by her slow progression into entering this new relationship. The two harmonized on being ready, and who will still be around when the time is right. The song falls right in line with one of Grandes main themes of the album. Learning to let go of what’s gone and deciding when it is the right time to begin anew. The process of restoring yourself before you can give yourself a way to another person is emphasized, for the fate of the future relationship. The lessons learned, pain gained, and love lost, all act as examples of how to not repeat that toxic cycle.
Grande ends her album with “Pov”, a song in which she spent self-reflecting on the progress she’s made. The song lays out Grande for everything she is, the good, the bad and the ugly. She reflects over her past choices, experiences, downfalls, joyous moments, and everything that makes her complete today. “Pov” explores the curiosity that one holds over their partner, the curiosity of why they love them so much. It seems that if Grande could have a better understanding of all the reasons why her partner loves her so, she will learn to love those things, even what she considers ugly. Attempting to understand why, the one person that you spend the most time with, wants to spend that amount of time with. Putting a mirror up against yourself, picking through flaws, insecurities, even strengths trying to figure out why that person can be so in love with just you. The song ends on a melodic note. Grande having received confirmation from her partner that he’ll love her throughout all of her imperfections is the reason why she is in his point of view.
“Positions” introduced a new era of music for Ariana Grande. An era where she is fully in-touch with the emotions of her music. A majority of her songs are set to give off certain feelings of togetherness, love, even flashbacks of pleasurable moments due to her playful writing. This album sets her apart from her five recent studio albums. This indicates the potential that she is just beginning to tap into. Just when you think that you can master one field, another door for mastery opens right up again. Having grown up with her fans, mainly from her Disney days, the album was able to resonate well across listeners. Most have been through bad relationships, tough decisions, low points, pleasured in new ways, or received love they never knew was possible. Grande drew on the emotions of the heart and flesh to compromise this album. Being that love, is an unconscious, non-mediated action, the outcomes can be drastic. Whether the end may be good or bad, Grande shows you how to pick up and move on, or own it and wear it with pride.