Everybody could use a little "Sweetener"
From the first day at my dream job encouragement of “successful” to the elevator music that plays when the love of my life walks in optimism of “pete davidson,” Ariana Grande’s new album “Sweetener” has it all.
Opener “raindrops” showcases Grande’s vocals by means of an empowered ballad. It’s the type of song that a choir could sing at a significant ceremony.
Pharrell’s nostalgic 90’s production adds a dreamlike state that carries throughout the album, especially during “blazed,” where his and Grande’s intertwined voices are like Peter Pan and Tinker Bell soaring through the skies. “the light is coming” reminds us that Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande are a pop duo. Minaj’s feature in this experimental track suggests that the main point of the album is about spilling truth, or “tea.” It’s about overcoming hardship and coming out on top.
Grande puts listeners to sleep with her Neverland-esque vocals in “R.E.M,” only to wake everyone up with “God is a woman,” a feminist anthem from producer Ilya Salmanzadeh. She takes us to church with her impressive range, gospel harmonizing and powerful a cappella (The live karaoke version of “GIAW” with late-night host James Corden wins her the title of “Voice of our Generation.” Sis, chills).
“When life deals us cards, make everything taste like it is salt / Then you come through like the sweetener you are to bring the bitter taste to a halt,” Grande sings. Sixth track “sweetener” is an upbeat, candy-shop bop: the sprinkles on Ariana’s ice cream sundae of an album.
Listeners find relatable content in “everytime,” with Grande singing, “I get drunk, pretend that I’m over it. Self-destruct, show up like an idiot. Why, oh why does God keep bringing me back to you?” It’s an R&B mix about going back to the one you love, no matter how toxic the path.
Mental health is another heavy topic that Grande dives into. On “breathin,” she covers what anxiety attacks and depersonalization feel like, and how the love of her life helps her deal with them: “Some days, things just take way too much of my energy / I look up and the whole room’s spinning / You take my cares away / I can so over-complicate, people tell me to medicate.”
Grande’s own mental health took a toll after the tragic 2017 bombing at her concert in Manchester. “no tears left to cry,” the album’s first single, talks about surviving this heartbreak and getting back up after being torn apart.
Grande may be the most powerful and relatable pop queen of the moment. “Unfollow fear and just say, ‘you are blocked,’” she sings. Her lyrics are often words and phrases used by millennials. When we ordered a powerful message easily understood by our generation, she delivered.
It’s as if she’s hugging fans during “get well soon,” while explaining that “there’s ups and downs and there’s drops / ... just know there is so much room at the top.”
Grande climbed to new heights with her fourth studio album, and boy, the view is spectacular.