Album Review: Positions


Graphic by Rivy

Sofia Cedeño, Senior, Features Editor

Ariana Grande’s sixth studio album Positions was released October 30, less than a year after her critically acclaimed fifth studio album, Thank You, Next. Grande is known to release projects on her time without any notice, often surprising fans by dropping album after album. In the past year and a half alone, Ariana Grande has dropped three pop albums, one of which won Pop Album of the Year at the Grammys and the other nominated for multiple awards. With expectations high, the world stopped and listened to Positions, an R&B trap-influenced album that is already topping charts. 

Starting off with “Shut Up,” the listener is greeted with a beautifully arranged song. The strings of an orchestra are heavily used in this opening song, as well as throughout the entire album. “Shut Up” was a direct message to Grande’s critics and haters, telling them that maybe they should shut up and focus on their own lives instead of her’s. The song is gorgeous and unlike any of her other opening songs, sounding a bit like a Disney princess movie. 

The next set of songs are “34+35”, “Motive” featuring Doja Cat, and “Just Like Magic”. Each of these songs seems to tackle a different yet similar idea. “34+35” is an exploration of Grande’s sexuality and showing the world that she is no longer the Nickelodeon star many know her as. She breaks out of that shell the media has created for her and it’s very empowering. “Motive” featuring Doja Cat was a collaboration many fans had been anxiously waiting for. Doja Cat is known for bending genres, singing as well as rapping on her own personal tracks, and we see it here on this song. Grande and Doja Cat sing about wanting to know what their partners’ motives are before continuing the relationship, using a very similar musical vibe as the collaboration Grande had with Lady Gaga earlier this year. “Just Like Magic” is a song about manifestations and getting everything you want just by asking. Grande comes off very braggadocious but in a good way. The production is very magical and fits the light subject that Grande is singing about. 

“Off The Table” featuring The Weeknd and “Safety Net” featuring Ty Dolla $ign are two songs with very similar subject matters. Grande is wondering whether falling in love with a new person after everything she’s been through in the past year would be worth it. She’s scared of falling in love again and being vulnerable with another man, yet she’s falling in love with someone without protecting herself from potentially getting hurt. Having these two male features on each of the songs brings in the male love in her actual life, telling her it’s ok to fall in love again because he will always be there for her in the end. These songs are some of the most emotionally vulnerable and show exactly where Grande is in her love life at the moment. 

Other songs like “My Hair”, “Nasty”, and “Positions” display Grande’s immense vocal ability. Her whistle tones are hard to ignore, and it is no secret that Grande’s voice is mind blowing. “Six Thirty”, “West Side”, and “Love Language” are songs that continue to discuss love in her life and her sexual growth. Lastly, we have “POV”, the closing song of the album. “POV” (or Point Of View) is the strongest and most emotional of the entire album. The production makes the song sound very calm and loving, matching the lyrical content to a tee. Grande discusses how she wishes she could see herself from her partner’s point of view, saying he loves and trusts her more than she could herself. She is singing to her partner in this song, letting him know that he is the best person in her life and that she’s going to love him back even though she’s scared. 

Overall, the album is far from Grande’s best work but is amazing on its own. Positions shows the growth from Grande’s previous work, and it is shown in the lyrics how she has developed into a different person. She doesn’t shy away from singing about what she had lost in life but is now introducing the person that has changed her mood and perspective. Even though every song is great, the album could’ve easily been ten tracks instead of fourteen, and the lyrical content in songs like “Motive” and “34+35” was a little cheesy. Grande has proven herself to be a great singer and songwriter, so when songs like these have lines that are below her usual standard, it can be hard to listen to. Grande also used very similar trap beats and sounds that she had also used in her last album, Thank You, Next. She normally refrains from making music that sounds the same as her other songs, so it would be nice to see her move away from trap and try experimenting with different styles and beats.

Positions is a great album. It serves its main purpose and describes exactly what is going on in the pop star’s life. Although it isn’t of the same caliber as her last two albums, it’s still something most people, including myself,  have been playing on repeat. Ariana Grande does have much room for improvement but has yet again created a project that puts her on a completely different stylistic level than her peers.