Ariana Grande - Sweetener
Sep 30, 2021
80
It’s 12:44, and I’m sitting in the middle of a study hall. I’m staring at my keyboard with absolutely no idea how to start this. The motivation is present but my fingers are frozen with a blank mind. I’ll just try things out and see how it goes. I know I’m supposed to write about artists with their last name, but I use Ari or Ariana because that’s how I'm used to writing it.

Think about it. Ariana was that red-haired girl from Victorious like 8 years ago. She was just seen as a TV show plant in the music industry… but there was something special about her. She wasn’t falling off. Her music was still on the charts. Everyone knew the name “Ariana Grande” if you didn’t live under a rock in 2014. To start your career with such a colossal run of pop hits within two years is beyond rare. How many people get to go from a TV show to becoming a worldwide name for music? Maybe Selena Gomez but she’s just whatever I don’t really care. Five years in, three albums, and still so much to prove.

While Ari was at the top of the world and on tour, the Manchester bombing occured at her concert. If you know anything about that event, you know it’s a very heavy topic. The world had a pause that day. The event killed 22 and injured 1,017(R.I.P. and love sent to the families who lost a loved one that day). It should go without saying that Ariana was in full trauma. Hosting the “One Love Manchester” concert on June 4th was a perfect way to pay respect to the people who lost their lives that day. Ari even released a cover of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” from her live performance during the tribute. And reviews aside, please show your most respect possible for this sensitive topic. Let’s move on.

Looking past the traumatic tour, Ariana must’ve had something in the works. The news comes out that Pharrell Williams is producing a huge portion of the album. I wasn’t a fan of Ariana until the release of her sixth studio album “Positions” in 2020, but I’ll just take a strong guess and say that the internet exploded. Williams is someone who is known to the public as a musical god. His remarkable production, and even his fashion has never been overlooked. He’s iconic in more ways than one. Rather than continuously hyping up the artists, I’ll focus on the singles for the time being.

April 20th, 2018. My cousin’s birthday and weed day. “Not Tears Left to Cry” release day. What am I supposed to say? This is a pure pop anthem. One of the catchier choruses for such a chill tone during the verses. The chorus is iconic by now. Ari’s range is untouched. The control on her high notes is breathtaking as per usual. I’m not very lenient when it comes to music, but this is definitely one of the strongest pop hits of the past decade. This song will be remembered for decades to come. I couldn’t say the same for “The Light Is Coming” unfortunately. Two months after the striking leadup single, the second single was nothing even comparable to the first. I love it, but a lot of people didn’t. Pharrell was obviously all over this song with the signature four-count start. The beat can be somewhat annoying for people, but I got used to it over time. It definitely didn’t seem like a song that Nicki would be on. But hey, it worked out well and that’s what matters. Moving on to… another single on par with “No Tears Left To Cry”? This was the moment where confusion and worry for Sweetener vanished. “God Is A Woman”. Hear it again. “God Is A Woman”. This track is outstanding. I get goosebumps every time I listen. I can’t even point out how this production was made or anything. I’m just levitating. I’m at a loss for words by how magical the background vocals sound at the end of the song. It’s perfection in an mp4. It’s right on par if not better than “No Tears Left To Cry”. It’s rare for an album to have two highlights of a decade, but Ari did it. She did it more than once but that’s not the focus right now. The hype train to this album was nuts. I’m about seven-hundred fifty words in and I haven’t even gotten to the release of the album yet. I’ll get to that before you get sick of me.

So here we have Sweetener. It’s been three years and it still feels as fresh as the day it came out. Hearing a track like raindrops is very heavy-hearted for the beginning of an album full of different moods. It’s like getting a letter in the mail with a heart on it. Heart-warming, right? You open the card and it says “Pharrell threw up on the next track so wake up”. This is where we have Blazed. This is the song that I’ve seen most people say is the worst on the album. For me, it’s definitely one of the most replayable on the album. It’s vibrant and calming at the same time. People shouldn’t always expect a radio hit from Ari and Nicki. “The Light Is Coming” is the perfect example of this. This was definitely the science project that got the best grade in the class for being the most unique. It’s completely different from every other collab she’s ever made. Enough said about that. R.E.M. is that one song that I love the most for no apparent reason. It’s simplicity at its absolute finest. Top 10 Ariana track for sure. I can't even explain why I love it to be honest. I’ll shut up before I restate that last sentence fifty more times. What’s understood doesn’t need to be explained about “God is A Woman”. The self titled track is… only Ari fans would understand this one. It’s probably the worst track on the album, but it’s amusing. Let’s just move on. “Successful” is the biggest serve. She’s telling everyone that she’s really “that bitch” and I’m obsessed. It’s almost four minutes of confident energy through and through. The album feels like it splits when you get to “Everytime”. This just hits different when you are 100 percent isolated. It feels like a pool that you just keep breathin' and breathin' and breathin' and breathin' in. Ignore my stupid pun. But I swear I will never get over that guitar on the bridge. It’s nuts if you pay attention to it. “No Tears Left To Cry” is just like “God Is A Woman” in the sense that it needs no explanation. “Borderline” is one of those songs that make you wonder why it’s on the album. It’s not bad at all, but it seems like a demo. “Better Off” feels like the hug you need on an awful day. I’m not saying that to be corny or anything. It just feels right. I hate that I didn’t like it before, but “Goodnight N Go” finally grew on me. It feels so short, but it’s immensely calming. Same for Pete Davidson. Short but sweet and that’s all there is to it. But damn this ends on a high note. “Get Well Soon” is beyond sad if you understand it. The song ends with around forty-five seconds of silence to make the length of the song 5:22. As I said earlier in the review, the Manchester bombing occurred on May 22nd. But to mention the song as a whole, it’s just mastery and a beyond perfect end to a monumental album.

There’s something about Sweetener that is special compared to her other albums, scratch that, any other album. There’s something that’s so addictive about it. It’s been my most streamed album three months in a row. I can’t get sick of it. Sometimes I’ll shuffle my Ari playlist and hear “raindrops” and know instantly that it’s getting a relisten. Even though some tracks(the singles in particular) are pretty upbeat and energetic, the record as a whole is immensely relaxing. Right as you play the first song, it feels like you set a candle in an isolated space. After a while, the smoke from the candle will set off the fire sprinklers. Rather than leaving the room, you’re at peace with the water. You let it fall until you realize the record is over and you’re moved by the experience behind it. Listen to the album in full before complaining about certain tracks in particular. Keep an open mind and experience it.

If you made it this far, I thank you for supporting me.

Love to all, Ryan ♡

12 Comments
Oct 1, 2021
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Oct 1, 2021
@riquitrefe coming from you, one of the sites best accounts, is an honor🤍
Oct 1, 2021
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Oct 1, 2021
Great job on the review!
Oct 1, 2021
@Brando thank u smmmmmm
Oct 3, 2021
love this review!!!!! couldn’t agree more with what you said
Oct 3, 2021
@marcelo tysm! sweetener is just something people have to realize is a mainstream pop milestone for the 2010s.
Oct 3, 2021
<3 this review and love how passionate and well-articulated it is! I've always felt like this album got way too much unnecessary hate :)
Oct 4, 2021
@DL Verdict tysm. I’m just passionate about Ariana’s music and we’ll protect her albums with my life
Oct 4, 2021
GREAT REVIEW, her best album for sure
Oct 4, 2021
Amazing review!
Oct 24, 2021
W her best album. amazing review
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