Album Review: Ariana Grande—“Dangerous Woman”

By Savana James

Ariana Grande’s latest release has definitely put her in the lead for the best pop album of Summer 16. If you’re a fan of pop music than this album is, without a doubt, the album for you. Dangerous Woman is Ariana Grande’s third studio album, and her strongest yet. This album offers 15 new tracks in a wide array of genres and styles. Every single one is different, and every single one is a pop hit.

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Album art for Dangerous Woman

As with most tenured pop stars, Ariana is pushing here to lift off a previously sweet and innocent image. Her first release, Yours Truly, was full of bubblegum pop with a 50s twist. Her second album, My Everything, saw a huge break away, presenting sultry pop songs paired with features from rappers on nearly every track. Dangerous Woman, much like My Everything, is another push into the world of sultry, sexy pop, but in a way that feels more fresh and genuine. This album (thankfully) has more stand alone songs than features which makes the album feel more like hers. And this time around, she doesn’t shy away from exploring a multitude of different genres. Ariana’s vocals shine on  tracks that range from jazz, reggae, R&B, and even disco. The multitude of pop-genre hybrids makes this album a fresh and exciting listen. All the tracks are perfectly produced pop songs that you’re gonna want to dance, sing, and sometimes even cry along to.

I would feel totally comfortable saying this album is Ariana’s best to date. Stand out tracks aside from her outstanding singles include the reggae bop “Side to Side” (where Nicki Minaj’s feature, as per usual, steals the show), the heavy duty electronic pop banger “Touch It”, the soulful ballad titled “Leave Me Lonely” (where Macy Gray stuns us all) and my absolute favourite, the massive disco-pop dance tune “Greedy”. Ariana mashes pop music with different genres in a way that’s exciting and electric. She melds her vocals to style after style, and kills it every time. She knows how to deliver a damn pop song, and gives her audience exactly what they want to hear.

As an already massive Ariana fan, I had to step back from this album and ask myself: While this album delivers great individual tracks, do they work together? As a whole, is this a good, solid album? Some pop albums face the problem of having a great collection of individual tracks, while failing to present something wholly cohesive. For me, an album having a well defined sound and style throughout its entirety is something that makes it great, that makes it work as a solid piece of music. Using that kind of definition, Dangerous Woman doesn’t appear to be a greatly cohesive album by any means. The songs are killer, but they’re all undeniably different. So, while Ariana delivers a great collection of tracks, she doesn’t quite manage to present an album with a totally unified image, style or sound.

But then I realized that what makes Dangerous Woman weak as an album is also what makes it great. It’s exciting to see Ariana differ so greatly in style track after track, and hit it every time. While this might make her album less cohesive than her peers, I think Ariana is simply doing what she pleases. She can sing about romantic, wistful 50s-type love on ballads like “Moonlight”, and she can sing about sultry one night stands on tracks like “Let Me Love You”. Ariana proves here that she doesn’t have to totally ditch the “good girl” pop image to be sultry and sexy. Rather than being one or the other, this time she chooses to do both. If she wants to do disco on one track and reggae on another, she’ll not only do it, but do it well. Dangerous Woman is a triumph for Ariana as she proves to the world that she’s a pop star who can, and will, do it all. The album is as multi-faceted as the empowering woman Ariana Grande is growing into. That’s what makes her a dangerous woman. (Republic)

 

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