If you weren’t already aware, the not-so-young Miss Grande has fully graduated from Nickelodeon teen-sitcom renown to solo album-dom, the top of radio’s pecking order, and stage shares with Nicki Minaj [and her twerking]–all in the last year.
On her sophomore studio album, My Everything, Ariana’s main purpose is proving this newfound maturity–lyrically and vocally. Although the gifted vocalist can often pass as a fourteen-year-old, looks-wise, her pipes simply can’t. Mariah Carey-inspired yet independently-styled, Grande is pop’s perfect child.
The album follows somewhat in the footsteps of its predecessor, Yours Truly, but especially highlights a year’s worth of metamorphosis, from 2013-Grande to 2014-Grande with edginess–a trait we think fits her well.
I think it’s safe to say that this “edge” I speak of took ahold the second Ariana jumped on a track with rapper Iggy Azalea–an unlikely collaboration that shockingly turned match-made-in-heaven. It was also confirmed by unforeseen duets with more than a couple hip-hop dudes: Childish Gambino, A$AP Ferg, Big Sean, the Weeknd, etc. These pairings might seem out of place upon listeners’ first discovery, but I promise, Ari–and her music–are better for it.
“Problem”, the second track on the album and summer hit single, is stuffed with saxophone loops and spins together a manageable contradiction of plush pop touches (Grande) and the unvarnished spitting of bars (Iggy). Somehow, both complement each other, and listeners are guaranteed to embrace the good-girl/bad-girl gathering that ultimately leads to a female-independence proclamation–a rhythmically alluring one.
A handful of tracks on the EP dabble in the radio-dance genre (i.e. “One Last Time”, “Break Free”), likely a break taken by Grande from her usual go-to ballads. Truthfully, though, these particular songs provide some of the weaker melodic foundations for Ari’s maximum super-soprano abilities, and most fans will probably feel an urge to hit ‘skip’.
Whirling rumors of an Ariana-Big Sean affair are likely sustained by the duo’s extra-soft R&B jam on the album, “Best Mistake”. The “OH-GAWD” rapper’s contributions are good enough and even emotional: “I guess times wasting, tick-tocking lip-locking/How can we keep the feelings fresh? How do we zip lock it? Wear your heart up on your sleeves so watch out for pickpockets”. Ari’s response? “If the water dries up, and the moon stops shining/Stars fall, and the world goes blind; Boy you know I’ll be savin’ my love for you…”. Hmmm…
More of the Mariah Carey-ish style associated with Grande–or “truer” R&B sounds–surface on “Be My Baby (Feat. Cashmere Cat)”. Belting in an ultra-minor key, Ariana entertains with vocal runs and high notes, setting it straight for a guy potentially swayed by other love interests. The R&B party continues with “Break Your Heart Right Back”, incorporating a Diana Ross homage (“I’m Coming Out” sample) and a spot perfectly filled by an expectedly mellow Childish Gambino–whose notoriously dry/bitter raps are fitting for the song’s resentful tone.
Sounding a little more full of life than usual, The Weeknd shows up on “Love Me Harder”, a synths-injected track that provides an appeal for electronic fans, while still showing off Ariana’s range and sweet-like-honey tone. Hers, Nicki’s, and Jessie J’s collective “Bang Bang” single caps the album with a little attitude, pounding drums, and high-energy, girls-rule ideals.
With just the right guest artists to diversify her second studio album, Ariana mixes it up but doesn’t shift from pop-star status for a second. My Everything is, indeed, a little bit of everything…but a whole lot of voice. As the young artist’s heightening confidence seeps from every angle of the EP, so does our openness to her takeover of an otherwise underwhelming genre.
iTunes Album Download Link: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/my-everything-deluxe/id894102325