Ariana Grande Delivers Quality and Quantity on 'Positions'

BY Heather Taylor-SinghPublished Oct 30, 2020

No one is doing it quite like Ariana Grande. In 2018, she gave us Sweetener. In 2019, we got thank u, next. Amid the bleakness of 2020, Grande released Positions, her sixth studio album. For many artists, releasing three albums in three years might yield diminishing returns, but Grande has delivered a consistent output of music without compromising its quality.

While thank u, next was an album of self-realization, Positions is an album of self-indulgence. Throughout the album's 14 tracks, Grande sings about her life and love with minimal regard for modesty. This sentiment is captured on tracks like "shut up," the album's cinematic opener, where she dismisses the critique she's received, while "just like magic" details how she manifests her decadent lifestyle. Clearly, it's Grande's world and we're just living in it.

Positions has hints of classical and R&B — staples of Grande's previous work. Songs like the title track and "love language" weave in orchestral strings and catchy backbeats to elevate the listening experience, effortlessly meshes these contrasting genres to keep her pop sound distinctive.

The album slows down on collaborations with the Weeknd ("off the table") and Ty Dolla $ign ("safety net") as Grande and her collaborators sing about the hesitations of falling for someone. Other tracks, like "34+35" and "nasty," feature an overt sexiness, both describing Grande's lust for a lover. They're in contrast to tracks like "six thirty" and "obvious" — their fluffier, but equally satisfying counterparts.

"my hair" delivers what is perhaps Positions' most intimate moment. Grande's iconic high ponytail has been the subject of much discussion, and she uses her most distinguishing feature to convey her vulnerability, singing: "Usually don't let people touch it / But tonight, you get a pass" and "So run your hands through my hair / Baby, 'cause that's why it's there."

While Positions is full of confidence and lust, Grande ends on "pov," a heartfelt track about insecurity and wanting to see herself from someone else's point of view. It's refreshing as Grande, one of the biggest pop stars in the world, admits she has her off moments and feels unworthy of love. It's a universal feeling Grande captures on one her best album closers so far.

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