Ariana Grande
positions


2.5
average

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
November 1st, 2020 | 219 replies


Release Date: 10/30/2020 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Ariana Grande continues to put her magnificent voice on display, but everything around it is beginning to crumble.

Forty minutes of sex usually feels amazing. Forty minutes of Ariana Grande singing about sex sounds pretty damn good, too. Forty minutes of simplistic trap beats and unvaried melodies, with no hooks to speak of, is unfortunately not nearly as enticing. Grande’s sixth full-length LP is her most cohesive work to date, but it’s a feat that’s accomplished to an absolute fault. Listening to positions is a strain on the patience of anyone who enjoys infectious choruses, quality lyrics, or sonic diversity, and it’s easily Ariana Grande’s worst album to date.

To give Ariana (some) credit where its due, positions has a handful of clear strengths working in its favor that prevent the record from plummeting below mediocrity. There’s no refuting her vocal talent, for starters; it’s a facet of her music that has always provided her a high floor, regardless of how unimaginative her surrounding songwriters and collaborators may be. This allows her to still occasionally shine – like on the opener ‘shut up’, which minus the silly lyrics is an enjoyable showcase of her vocal range, or ‘my hair’, which has an old school R&B aesthetic and features one of the most memorable melodies on the entire album. Additionally, Ariana has smartly reduced the presence of guest musicians and rappers. While they are realistically trends ingrained in all of modern pop, they have often distracted from Grande’s natural abilities in the past, notably on Dangerous Woman – Grande’s near-masterpiece that might have been so without Lil Wayne bursting through at all the wrong times to deliver special bits like “girl you need a hot boy.” Here, Grande’s peanut gallery is limited to Doja Cat, The Weeknd, and Ty Dolla $ign – and while none of their performances are necessarily worth singling out, they all manage to avoid destroying the flow of positions. All of this brings us to the final bit of praise, which is that positions really does possess flow – it’s something that Ariana began to master on Thank U, Next, but it’s arguably even more smooth and refined here.

Unfortunately, this is the point where we’re forced to discuss all of the other musical components that are severely lacking. Do you remember how much Ariana Grande’s tremendous range made her stand out when she first entered the scene in 2013 with Yours Truly? Or how she seemingly belted out huge and insanely infectious choruses left and right – from the title track to ‘Into You’ to ‘Greedy’ – on 2016’s Dangerous Woman? Those days appear to be over, at least for now, as Grande and her team of producers have recently favored homogenous trap beats and less flashy production. About half of the songs on positions utilize similar beats and rhythms, pushing the core of the album into an unrecognizable slosh. If you tune out everything else going on and focus strictly on the beats, you’ll find yourself hard-pressed to tell the difference between ‘just like magic’, ‘six thirty’, ‘safety net’, ‘nasty’, ‘west side’, ‘positions’, and ‘obvious’ – and that’s a major problem on its own before you compound it with the absence of memorable melodies or interesting lyrics. Those latter issues are perhaps even more conspicuous than the near-identical beats. Plenty of mainstream pop artists have, now and always, deployed vapid lyrics – and while nobody is demanding life-changing messages from Grande, the goal should have been to write verses and choruses that pop. The moments here that do stand out seem to do so for the wrong reasons – “So maybe you should shut up, mmm”, “Just gimme them babies”, “I wanna 69 with you”, “Say what you want, I needed a real bonafide G” – are all just from the opening trio of tracks, and it’s pretty much a barometer of what one can expect throughout positions. With regard to the melodies, there are occasional bright spots – but the vast majority of the verses are delivered in a similar cadence while the choruses largely pale in comparison to even the most middling efforts from her past. When you roll up all of these shortcomings together, it’s a hurdle too tall for even Grande’s tremendous vocal talents to clear.

positions isn’t totally without merit – Grande’s inherent skill set will prevent her from ever releasing something totally unlistenable. With that said, she sure seems to be trying. Sweetener was a similarly disappointing release that was salvaged by some diamonds in the rough (‘God Is a Woman’, ‘No Tears Left to Cry’), but positions is even duller and doesn’t possess any hook-laden songs to bail it out. Once the initial hype surrounding this record simmers a bit, it will likely have the least replay value out of her discography and slowly fade into the ether. Grande is far too talented to be crafting forgettable pop albums, so here’s to hoping that she regains her footing soon.



Recent reviews by this author
Taylor Swift Folklore: The Long Pond Studio SessionsZach Bryan Quiet, Heavy Dreams
Phoebe Bridgers If We Make It Through DecemberSeahaven Halo of Hurt
Andrew Bird HARK!Puscifer Existential Reckoning
user ratings (126)
3.1
good
other reviews of this album
solrage (3.5)
Ari's Airy Arias...



Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
November 1st 2020


36267 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Aryawna.

Digging: ManDancing - The Good Sweat

normaloctagon
November 1st 2020


1792 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

puns!!! on a staff thread 1st comment!!!

Digging: Bailter Space - Robot World

Shadowmire
November 1st 2020


6491 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

stop

nolerthebowler
November 1st 2020


5559 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

maff class

Lord(e)Po)))ts
November 1st 2020


62435 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Duuuude sick fuckin 5 nilton

Digging: MYSS KETA - IL CIELO NON E UN LIMITE

normaloctagon
November 1st 2020


1792 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

there you are pots I was starting to worry

nolerthebowler
November 1st 2020


5559 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It’s objectively a 6.9, but sput’s shitty ratings don’t go that high, so I’ll settle with an even 5.0

Lord(e)Po)))ts
November 1st 2020


62435 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

"Forty minutes of sex usually feels amazing"



Why would you introduce this review with such juicy low-hanging fruit

Colton
November 1st 2020


5316 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

now just imagine if you don't even like her voice

nolerthebowler
November 1st 2020


5559 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

let’s hear you sing better Voltron

normaloctagon
November 1st 2020


1792 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

objectively it is a 6.30 but yes the ratings don't go that high because they are anti-octagon pun



rly tho I've made it to "six thirty" and I'm enjoying myself. that's almost 1/2 the album

Lord(e)Po)))ts
November 1st 2020


62435 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

I WANNA GET NASSSTTTYYYYYYYYY



WHATCHYA WAITIN 4

WHATCHYA WAITIN 4

Tyler.
November 1st 2020


18194 Comments


god i love your reviews so much

Lord(e)Po)))ts
November 1st 2020


62435 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Imagine having such an obtuse ear for music that you think this has no hooks. No wonder my boy sowing hates subtlety and tastefulness in his pop!

hal1ax
November 1st 2020


14895 Comments


forty minutes of sex usually feels like chafing

TheAntichrist
November 1st 2020


1400 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

damn a 2.5? now i need to to spin this

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
November 1st 2020


5274 Comments


There's something about Ariana Grande that makes me listen to her music.

Digging: Shores of Null - Beyond the Shores (On Death and Dying)

SowingSeason
Moderator
November 1st 2020


36267 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

I stopped the elusive search for hooks here Pots, but it's admittedly my own fault for wanting to go on listening to better music.

Lord(e)Po)))ts
November 1st 2020


62435 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

"my own fault for wanting to go on listening to better music."



So what stopped you?

Tyler.
November 1st 2020


18194 Comments


yeah id much rather listen to arcade fire



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2019 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy