By Lauren Lippert
How does someone like Ariana Grande top her more personable album “thank u, next?”
Well… by creating a sexier uplifting one titled “Positions.”
Many artists struggle with beating their previous album and find themselves forever lost to their one hit. However, for Ariana Grande, it seems that for her, the only way is up and its evident in her latest release.
While her last two albums were more emotional, filled with heartbreaking lyrics of longing and hurting (“ghostin” and “goodnight n go”) her newest edition still has those underlying tones but in a more lighthearted way.
Filled with flirty yet naughty songs, “Positions” isn’t anything new for Grande. She’s always subtly (“imagine”) and not so subtly (“Side to Side”) slipped in sexual innuendos and come-ons in her lyrics.
It’s why this sex-filled album was no surprise.
Combined with her powerful vocals and angelic harmonies, Grande sings about something so raw and intimate in a humorous yet playful way. “Just give me them babies” she belts on “34+35,” a track that is an almost-subtle joke until the final seconds, “That means I’m trying to 69 with you,” she ends with. “No shit.”
Other sexy tracks like “nasty” and “my hair” have the same playful-undertones with hidden agendas. To completely contrast the lustful moments, Grande dives into her “Sweetener,” “thank u, next” era with an ever emotional ballad “off the table” featuring The Weeknd.
“Will I ever love the same way again,” she cries. “Do I just sit this one out and wait for the next life?” Soft upbeat drums and wisps of strings hum in the background as the Weeknd chimes in with his soft, heart-wrenching voice, “I’ll wait for you,” he sings, “Even though it feels like I’ll always be number two to someone you can’t hold anymore.”
In 2018, Ariana Grande lost ex-boyfriend Mac Miller to a drug overdose and since then has paid tribute to him through her songs (“ghostin,” “imagine,” “thank u, next”) so it’s no surprise that she does it again with “Positions.”
“Safety net,” like “off the table” is Grande’s attempt to process love after a loss. She compares this safety net feeling to a relationship. Referring to the fact that she is giving everything to make that relationship work by taking a leap, even though she doesn’t know if the relationship will last. But, she’s willing to try and risk it all for him. Ty Dolla $ign assists in her fearful yet hopeful song creating spine-tingling melodies.
“I’ve never been this scared before, feelings I just can’t ignore, don’t know if I should fight or fly but I don’t mind,” they both harmonize together.
Another noteworthy song that is one of my favorites is “pov.” Just the mere thought of wanting to see yourself the way someone loves you does, makes me feel all tingly and warm inside.
In an interview with Zach Slang, Grande explained it as seeing herself through the eyes of someone who doesn’t see any imperfections in her.
“You know how everyone has the little things that you’re like “Ugh, how could you like that?” And you see someone who you’re madly in love with, love that, I want to feel it,” she said. “I’d love to see me from his point of view.”
This song is also more than wanting to see yourself through your lover’s eyes but just being supported during a time of healing. She sings of appreciating her lover for being so compassionate, kind, and supportive during her healing journey.
“Positions” doesn’t change how Grande’s sound is the way her past albums have. It’s not the valiant anthem-like “no tears left to cry” or like how “thank u, next” honored her past relationships. Instead, it focuses on living with trauma and maybe one-day finding love again and being ok with being loved again.
“I want to trust me the way that you trust me,” Grande belts on “pov,” her voice pulsing and raw.
This is the heart of every love song on “Positions,” the ache at the album’s core. It’s the idea of learning how to love again, pushing through all of the hurting and pain to finally feeling whole.