Album Review: Ariana Grande - Sweetener
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The mighty ponytail-wielding diva of pop, Ariana Grande, has officially released her saccharine fourth album Sweetener, reaching #1 hit on iTunes in 94 countries and counting, not even a full day after its release. Production for Sweetener began immediately after the release of her third album Dangerous Woman. It’s predominantly a pop, R&B, and trap record featuring amongst many others, producer Pharrell Williams who worked on almost half of the record. When you buy/stream/hold the physical copy close to your chest and kiss it, the first thing you’ll notice is that we finally have an artwork that’s in colour. It’s also upside down, a decision that was apparently made as a joke initially, when her best friend Aaron Simon Gross suggested the cover art would look good even upside down. The invertedness of the cover art, music video of its first single 'no tears left to cry', as well as the stylisation of the album title on social media, all derives from her emotional state in the past few years as her life was turned sideways. Being the first full album to follow the events of the Manchester attack of May last year, this was a highly anticipated record as the world waited to hear her journey of recovery through her new music. In an interview for Beats Radio 1 following the release of Sweetener, Ariana found herself in tears when discussing what the songs represent for her and also spoke out about the struggles with mental health that she experienced during the last few years: “People don't pay enough mind to it because we have things to do and places to be and pressure to fit in and whatever bullshit you're trying to put on. People don't pay attention to what's happening inside”. She explained that making Sweetener, was her way of giving people “ a hug musically” and make them happy through all the things they’re going through. “It’s not just about [Manchester]”, she added, “It’s about personal demons and tragedies as well.” Sweetener starts off with 'raindrops (an angel cried)', an acapella prelude reminiscent of 'Moonlight'. It’s quietly powerful with its haunting and mournful poetry “When raindrops fell down from the sky / The day you left me an angel cried”. After stunning us with her echoing vocals, she picks up the mood and starts the album off with the first track featuring Pharrell Williams. 'blaze' is a tropical R&B track, somewhat forgettable once you get to the record’s high points but enjoyable nonetheless.
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