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"Positions" is unfocussed and often tedious, says The Fader

Bambino

Screenshot-2020-10-30-The-FADER-on-Twitt

Low-effort lyrics, a glut of meaningless vocal tricks, and a sense that Grande is following rather than leading make her sixth studio album a rare disappointment.

It doesn’t feel coincidental that Positions, Grande’s sixth record, doesn’t have a tone-setting introduction in the style of her last three albums. The first genuine miss of her career, Grande’s follow-up to the colossal one-two punch of Sweetener and thank u, next is unfocussed and often tedious, finding the musician forgoing the most compelling aspects of her music in favour of trend-chasing production and occasionally lazy lyricism.

It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly went wrong with Positions. On paper, it’s as much of a home run as Grande’s previous records: the production team is largely the same, with the same mix of rap producers and longtime Grande collaborators; the songwriting team is similar to thank u, next. What seems to be gone is any sense of distinction, any punch; these songs dissolve into a swamp of icy drum hits and aimless melisma.

The clearest difference between Positions and past Grande albums appears to be in style. Grande has always been about as influenced by R&B as the next pop star; of course she owes a lot to icons of the form, namely Mariah Carey, but her music has never felt been conversation with R&B as much as it's been in conversation with, say, rap music. Here, though, Grande switches out her classical pop delivery for a wordy, conversational style favoured by modern luminaries SZA and Kehlani.

From the Weeknd collaboration “off the table" (which recalls SZA’s “The Weekend” more than a little) onward, Positions sees Grande pretty much abandoning the hallmarks of her songwriting circa-Sweetener and thank u, next, instead going for something more understated and, as such, underwhelming. The style Grande attempts here requires some kind of looseness, a naturally felt fluidity, a skill that she, for better or for worse, has never possessed. (On the slinky “my hair,” a plea for a lover to put his hands in her hair, she can’t help but mention the fact that most people aren’t allowed to touch her famed ponytail. Even when trying to cosplay as carefree, Grande can’t keep up the facade.)

The reasoning behind Grande’s pivot to R&B seems sound in the context of the album. Positions is largely about sex, and there is no better vehicle through which to sing about sex than an R&B song. The problem here is that Grande’s writing has never been weaker. “34+35,” a hammy ode to 69-ing, makes no attempts at even the most vaguely clever innuendo; “I don’t wanna keep you up / assuming can you keep it up / ’cos then I’d like to keep you up, so maybe I’mma keep you up,” goes the lyric that most closely resembles smart wordplay. Grande is “all up in [her] feels” but wanting to “keep it real” on “nasty,” on the chorus of which she sings, “don’t wanna wait on it, tonight I wanna get nasty,” a line so generic that it almost seems like a placeholder.

Lyrics are low-effort all around here: Ty Dolla $ign delivers a profoundly forgettable verse on “safety net,” while The Weeknd confounds on his guest verse, helping the album reach its lyrical nadir with the line “Yeah, I was toxic, but I was toxic for someone else.” In the past when Grande’s lyrics have been clowned, it’s often been due to her collaborators — “Now that I’ve become who I really are,” on My Everything’s “Break Free” was a classic Max Martin-ism, while the central metaphor of “bloodline” was widely misunderstood, but actually did make sense — but there are so many gaffes here, it’s hard to account for all of them.

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arrtpop

i agree, its not a bad album at all and I've been listening all day, its just nothing new

aphrodite
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River

The Faded*

It's a good album, punto.

Edited by River
I'd rather be dead but I guess I'm alive ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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SpiritBunny

Why would they expect something new or exciting from Ariana Grande of all artists? Lol

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Gagaloo911

I mean it's always been clear that Ariana is a follower of trends and not a leader lol

This album is just the latest evidence for that, as well as that she didn't grow at all and evidently wants to play it safe by doing the same thing and sound again.

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Bambino
5 minutes ago, River said:

The Faded*

It's a good album, punto.

Puta I came to edit the thread title. I thought I made a spelling mistake or something.

Edited by Bambino
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Red

She tried to be focused and y'all hated it :billie:

says Campbell, chuckling.
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Smother Em Eh

She’s starting to just seem like an Artist that is all about the bling then the music. This album is so done before and mediocre. It all sounds like one song and the lyrics are indeed lazy. 

Stream Gaga’s discography on Spotify! Come on LM’s
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FfFfFfFF

With 8 reviews in, it's her second-lowest rated album with 65 on metacritic (My Everything was 64). 

 

Edited by FfFfFfFF
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QueenGaga

You can like it and still admit it was trend-following and basic :oops:

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TimisaMonster

I mean...they have a point...the albums tracks all seem to be the same note and tempo and vibe...the instrumentals even are too similar sometimes made me wonder if the next song had started or if the same song was still playing 

It didn't challenge anything she had already done...just more of the same 

Stream my new single 🔥"Dance in the Flames"🔥 on Spotify!
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AJRocketMan

Since when has Ariana ever been a leader rather than a follower of trends. Her very first album was the only time she ever stood out in any way.

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