Ariana Grande Eternal Sunshine
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nol
March 10th 2024


12280 Comments


People act like her music was so much better when she belted. If you listen to her early hits like Problem nowadays, you’d see that sound is very much stuck in the 2010s. Has not aged well.

Odal
Staff Reviewer
March 10th 2024


2260 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

Her belting sound worked really well and I think there is certainly a way for her to modernize that sound, but that's just not what has been doing for the last seven years.



My Everything has probably aged the worst out of all of her albums thanks to tracks like Problem and Break Free, but it's still pretty enjoyable. I think people don't credit Ari enough though for sorta opening the door with this current wave of production-focused moody rnb pop. It also gives more power to when she does decide to take the kid gloves off and just go for it, vocally.

Kompys2000
Emeritus
March 10th 2024


9474 Comments


Yeah I was really surprised to find out she hasn't worked on production for any of her stuff before this, she writes with such a keen eye towards the studio and really knows how to make soft/quiet tones hit hard

pizzamachine
March 10th 2024


27363 Comments


Album is a little mid and I miss Halsey

solrage
March 10th 2024


309 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I don't think her music was necessarily better when she belted (though Tattooed Heart is still my favorite song from her, and it was always retro), but having her constantly in this soft, reverbed-drenched head voice is like having a Ferrari and only ever driving it in a school zone.



This production already sounds dated to me. That amorphous, digitized bass + skittery hi-hat samples has been done to death and its creatively banal. The album is immaculately engineered (as I'd expect from Max Martin), but Martin is capable of much better, and has done better even with Ariana on tracks like Into You. Most of the production here lacks any personality or originality.



Further, Ariana is really at heart an R&B singer and this album strips most all of the interesting musicality away from R&B, like its roots in jazz and soul. The only reason it works at all (when it does) is because the vocal hooks are copious here when they were really lacking on Positions. Look past the vocal hooks and there's very little else of interest.

solrage
March 10th 2024


309 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I will say props to whomever decided to insert a random, loud ~30Hz tone in the chorus of Don't Wanna Break Up Again. Actually gave my 18" subwoofers something to do and made me do a quick head snap!

Odal
Staff Reviewer
March 10th 2024


2260 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

I couldn't disagree more about the production lacking personality.



There's a lot going on that might be difficult to parse on a casual listen, but she's juggling retro 90s/2000's sounds with dark trap beats and this sorta icy-but-cute style that is reminiscent of the Paper Mario soundtracks that maybe sounds similar in a superficial sense to a decent chunk of popular music now, but I think still sounds distinctly like an Ariana song.



I don't know how someone can listen to "bye" and "the boy is mine" and not think that the production here has personality.



I also don't think that I would liken Ariana scaling back her voice as keeping a ferrari in a garage. Her voice is still obviously incredible and she deploys it a lot more intelligently. I think she wisely has made it more functional and less prone to ear fatigue. Don't get me wrong, Dangerous Woman and Yours Truly are fantastic records, but they can be a bit much to listen to as complete works simply because the foot is almost always on the gas. I think what she does with her voice in this direction is ten times more interesting than her older records. But maybe that's just my personal preference.

solrage
March 10th 2024


309 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Eh, there's really not "a lot going on" most of the time. There's occasionally some stuff floating around in the background but it's only ever atmospheric support to the vocals that take lone center stage. It would be nice if once in a while the production was used for more melodic or rhythmic counterpoint rather than just atmospheric mush. The rest are the (dated) trap beats and Ari's vocals.



"the boy is mine" is definitely one of the bangers here and one of the exceptions to my "boring production" critique. It's pretty stellar on every level and one of Ari's best. Lots of cool musicality happening there. It's also one of the tracks that most strongly hearkens back to 90s R&B, so it's probably not a coincidence. "bye" is pretty good too, but it's actually ripping from disco cliches with the strings but removes the more interesting funk elements of the genre, and there have been many better takes on disco in recent pop memory from Dua Lipa (Don't Start Now) to Carly Rae Jepsen (Julien) to Kylie Minogue (just about everything post-2000s).



I don't know what's "intelligent" about almost always singing in a head-voice whisper. To me, musical intelligence is about understanding and utilizing contrast, and always being in one mode vocally isn't that. "Functional" isn't what I want in awesome singers. I wanna hear Ariana going full Freddie Mercury on a track like Somebody to Love. She doesn't need to ALWAYS do that, but hell can we at least get a few tracks per album where she shows off just a little of what she's capable of? If not I guess I'll just always keep Tattooed Heart on my playlist, and it's actually a good example of that contrast as she does the quiet head-voice thing there too, but the belts serve as a potent climax.

Odal
Staff Reviewer
March 10th 2024


2260 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

I think the criticism of wanting to see her really show off what she can do a few times every album is valid. It would be nice if there was Rock Lee-removing-his-ankle-weights moment to counteract the general vibeyness.



Fwiw, her SNL performance of We Can't Be Friends and Imperfect for You utilize chest voice instead of head voice, which is pretty common for her live performances. I think that also kinda highlights a potential missed opportunity as you highlighted, but also reiterates the strength of the songs from a writing perspective imo.

solrage
March 10th 2024


309 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah, she does seem to let loose more live. Probably why K Bye for Now is the Ari album I've listened to the most (it also serves as a quasi-greatest hits album, and Ari really is more of a singles artist). Even for Tattooed Heart she has a couple of live performances (in London and the iHeartRadio) that are better than the studio version.

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
March 11th 2024


32064 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I like Supernatural.

Spec
March 11th 2024


39664 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is pretty good actually.

Shamus248
Contributing Reviewer
March 11th 2024


907 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Nol is so fucking grumpy grump that not everyone adores this album lmfao

Odal
Staff Reviewer
March 11th 2024


2260 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3

The new Supernatural version with Troye Sivan is incredible.



And goddamn, the acoustic Imperfect for You is just gorgeous and highlights the strength of the song itself.



(semi-deluxe just dropped)

nol
March 11th 2024


12280 Comments


But I don’t adore this album

nol
March 11th 2024


12280 Comments


Your review just sucks ass

MyMentality
March 11th 2024


1514 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Albums cool, it's like a less sugary "Sweetener" but with all the atmosphere of the slower tracks from that. Can't say there's anything as monumental as God as a Woman, Breathin' or No Tears Left To Cry though, but loving the general vibes. Sitting at a 3.5 at the moment but could definitely be a 4. Particularly love the title track and "don't wanna break up again" they're really good.

SteakByrnes
March 11th 2024


30036 Comments


is this review as good as shamus

Winesburgohio
Staff Reviewer
March 12th 2024


4053 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great review that i won't entirely disregard !

onionbubs
March 12th 2024


21334 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

horray the flagged review is an actual review instead of a shitheap of a tmz article lfg



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