Ariana Grande releases sixth album

Grande’s Positions is criticized as a mature, bold take on traditional R&B

Catherine Regen, Life Editor

Every single song off of Ariana Grande’s sixth studio album Positions charted on the Billboard Top 100. The album as a whole hit number one on that chart the day it was released, with over 174 million streams. Her last album, Thank u next, was released in February of 2019, a little over a year and a half ago. She was on tour performing songs from both her Sweetener album and her Thank u next album when concerts were forced to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the tour was cancelled, she has appeared on singles with Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga.

“Positions,” the title track, was released a week before the album with an accompanying music video that featured visuals of Grande in the White House. Many fans found the theme of the video to be timely with the U.S. Presidential election looming. The success of the music video predicted the success of the album as a whole. Grande had only announced the release of the album earlier that month, straying from the tradition of artists teasing their work for months before it is released. The immediate release strategy is akin to that of Taylor Swift’s folklore, which was announced the same day it was released. Interestingly, both women are represented by Republic Records. 

The album features songs with other artists as well, including “Motive” with Doja Cat, “Off the table” with The Weeknd and “Safety Net” featuring Ty Dolla $ign. Her guests add diversity in sound and rhythm to her otherwise steady harmonic style. Overall the album is typical Grande, solidifying her reputation for delivering catchy synth ballads. It comes at no surprise that a few of the songs have garnered popularity on the video-sharing app TikTok. Her song “pov” is particularly on theme for a popular style of acting video on the platform. 

There is nothing new about the sound of the album, but the lyrical themes are a little lighter than they have been in the past. It is no secret that Grande has used her music to process trauma, notably when terrorists attacked one of her concerts in Manchester, England in 2017, and when her ex boyfriend Mac Miller’s overdosed in 2018. Positions is different however, placing an emphasis on love and relationships. The sexual innuendos in “34+35” alone set a different tone from Grande’s previous, more emotional, work. 

Fans of Grande will remember the shock that came from her listing her ex boyfriends by name in her song “thank u next.” While that song fueled gossip for months, particularly about the demise of Grande’s relationship with comedian Pete Davidson, her new album refrains from stirring the proverbial pot. While the album is still about love and relationships, the central idea is more about processing those emotions rather than airing them out to dry in public. If you were already a fan of Grande’s music, I have no doubt that you will enjoy this album as well. It doesn’t spark any major revelations about the young artist, and is exactly what I expected from her sixth album.