In a year full of upheaval, you have to wonder about the role of Ariana Grandes music in the grand scheme. Being largely Pop and R&B, the genre is always primed to deliver clear and direct messages outside of its own context, let alone fiery missives or storm-bringing manifestos for a general populous to rally around in numbers.
Pop music like Ariana’s can still serve vital purposes during tumultuous times of desperation and discontent. Perhaps most readily, it can provide a much needed escape for our troubled minds, though it can also reflect the boiling unrest within our hearts. Arianna’s latest project (Deluxe version of her six album) which was released october last year managed to do exactly both.
Ariana Grande is giving us some new Positions! The singer, who dropped her sixth album in October, released its deluxe version on Thursday night. The 19-track project includes the previously released “34+35” remix with Doja Cat and Megan Thee Stallion, as well as “someone like you,” “test drive,” “worst behavior,” and “main thing.”
Grande has teased the deluxe album for a few weeks now, but remained secretive about the new tracks, aside from the remix to “34+35.” Positions features collab with Doja on “motive,” the Weeknd on “off the table,” and Ty Dolla $ign on “safety net.”
Leading up to its release, Grande wrote that it was her favorite record to date “for many reasons.” “i really can’t wait for it to be yours. thank u for your love and excitement, it means the world to me,” she added.
During the spring of 2019, in the interval between two titanic releases, Ariana Grande posted her brain on popular photos sharing platform, Instagram. The image was from a scan, and it showed regions of her mind lit up from the effects of PTSD, the disorder revealed in clear, screenshot-able form which was later became the reason an album was born. The grace with which Grande has navigated horrors—the ability to name their impact and steer towards healing, to make a top-charting song about a panic attack—has become fundamental to her music.
In the just released Deluxe version of her last album, many of these songs stem from hesitancy, from rejecting risks or their costs, and their production is largely sleek and muted. The flourishes live in the transitions between tracks—the Broadway-eque orchestral burst at the end of “Position,” the burbling synths that close “Someone Like U.” Grande’s voice remains nestled in a breathy sway, occasionally stretching into a rap-adjacent cadence.
If these songs lack the sticking power of her power ballads, there’s still dimension to their glazed reveries. In any other year, “position” might have been written as a breaking banger and prayed it never get twinkled and hushed.
Positions suffers a bit from its sanitized
precision from the beginning, the way slippery harmonies wind around trap-drum exoskeletons; you wonder what the title track would sound. But maybe this isn’t the place for that. Positions doesn’t broaden Grande’s sound the way her past few albums have, and it isn’t buoyed by a heroic anthem, like “no tears left to cry,” or guided by a specific mission, like how “thank u, next” honored her relationship history.
The deluxe version resonates partly because it doesn’t weld grand statements out of living with trauma; it narrows in on the wobbly path of pleading with yourself, the begging and bargaining of healing. “I want to trust me the way that you trust me,” Grande belts on her voice throbbing and raw. This is the root of every love song on Positions , the ache at the album’s core. It’s the urge to take tangible pain and make something from it, to feel safe—again, at last—in your own head.
The deluxe version is a 19-track project includes the previously released “34+35” remix with Doja Cat and Megan Thee Stallion.
Check it out if you haven’t.