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Review: Ariana Grande's 'Sweetener' is dream-pop perfection


Ariana Grande  Madelyn Powers Buy Photos

If you haven’t listened to Ariana Grande’s newest album "Sweetener," you should. It’s pretty much dream pop perfection, and it’s Grande’s most personal album yet.

From her love life, to the tragedy in Manchester, she packs it all into a cloud-shaped package and gives it to us for listening. 

Grande gained mainstream attention from her work on Nickelodeon shows like "Victorious" and "Sam & Cat." She transitioned into music with her debut album "Yours Truly" in 2013 and showed the world her impressive four-octave vocal range.  

On "Sweetener," Grande delivers a sound similar to dream pop, a genre of music that usually features soft melodies and transcendent vocals. Grande's sound is not exactly the same as others in the genre, but it's more psychedelic than her previous music. 

Another change she's making in her music is her willingness to be open and honest. She has a track called "pete davidson," dedicated to her fiancé whose name is, you guessed it, Pete Davidson.

Even though this track is only a little more than a minute long, it is a gem among a track list filled with so many diamonds already. In this musical love letter to the comedian and actor, Grande explains that he’s the soul mate she’s been waiting for her whole life. Chills. Every time. 

Gorgeous layers of Grande’s voice and light, airy melodies marry together perfectly for the dream pop ballad "R.E.M." She sings in perfect harmony about not wanting to wake up from the dream that is her man and invites us to share her love-filled psyche for a bit, a theme on the album. This song sounds like what cotton candy tastes like, what a flickering candle flame looks like and what touching a cloud probably feels like. 

The song "God is a woman" is something the world needs right now. An important ode to female empowerment and sexuality, Grande speaks her mind on this track, the third single off of "Sweetener." The music video is a perfect accompaniment, with feminist imagery galore and even a guest monologue spoken by the Queen of Pop herself, Madonna. 

Grande spoke in a Beats 1 interview about the help rapper and producer Pharrell Williams offered her during the recording process of the album. She said he would sit down with her before recording, ask her about her personal life and start making a beat off of something she said. 

The Williams-inspired and featured track "blazed" features a funky pop beat with a futuristic twist. Williams, who collaborated with Grande on more than half of the album, lends some auto-tuned vocals to this song that are sure to make you want to get up and dance. Grande utilizes a mixture of lower toned verses, almost mimicking how she speaks, and sprawling vocals on this track and throughout the entire album. 

On May 22, 2017, a blast went off at Grande's concert in Manchester, England, killing 22 people and wounding 59 others. 

The last song on the album, the aptly titled "get well soon" deals with mental health and the stigmas surrounding it. Grande said she wanted to give her fans a little something to make them feel better on tough days, especially after the attack in Manchester. The song has 40 seconds of silence at the end, bringing the length of the song to 5:22, the date the attack happened.  

Grande shows a refreshing sense of maturity and vulnerability on her fourth LP. While it's different than her previous music, the album and Grande herself, seem to be all about evolving.

The IDS gives "Sweetener" by Ariana Grande an A.

Music playlist inspired by Grande's album is here on Spotify.  

IDS x Sweetener

A playlist featuring Ariana Grande, Alvvays, Miley Cyrus, and others

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