Ariana Grande Reaffirms Her ‘Positions’ as a Vocal Powerhouse and Chart Topper


(Design by David Onwukeme | Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Jacqueline Mumford, Managing Editor


In 2017, Nicki Minaj told us that “Ariana run pop.” On her sixth studio album, Grande shows that she might be the president of R&B, too.

The Lead-Up

We’ve seen a long list of “quarantine albums” since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold, but Grande’s was very unexpected — she made the announcement on Twitter, just over two weeks from the scheduled release. 

With only one single leading up to the album drop, Grande released “Positions” on Oct. 30, 2020. Within an hour, the album took over the top 14 streamed songs on Spotify.

A Note on Explicit Music by Women

For years, people — regardless of gender — have made music about sex. What’s different, though, is the reception and critique: a man will sing, rap, yodel and read spoken word poetry about vaginas, and it’ll sit on the top of the charts for weeks. But if a woman does the same thing? Let the name-calling, blackballing and rage-tweeting begin.

Megan Thee Stallion and Cardi B’s first collaboration “WAP” was released earlier this summer, and got the same treatment, with big names in the music industry, like CeeLo Green, to politicians criticizing the artists.

“Positions” is largely about sex. While the album title may be tongue-in-cheek, some song titles are blatantly obvious, and Grande’s lyrics are incredibly intimate, leaving everything on the table. Grande addressed the raunchy content in an interview with Zach Sang: “I just think it’s ridiculous and so funny and stupid. It’s like absolutely absurd. It was just a fun thing.”

Regardless of intent, I think Grande knew the windstorm of criticisms that were bound to come. The opening track, “shut up,” was the perfect pre-emptive response: “How you been spending your time? / How you be using your tongue? / You be so worried ’bout mine.”


While Grande is no stranger to sensual songs, “Positions” has a lot of firsts for Grande: Doja Cat and Ty Dolla $ign features, production from Murda Beatz, and a song that’s almost entirely whistle notes

This album has some of the best delivery I’ve ever heard from Grande, too. Her raspy vocals in “pov” are absolutely captivating, and I don’t think I’ll ever be over the staccato whistle notes she casually sings in “my hair.” And, of course, her staple, layered vocals, still make me feel like I’m floating into outer space. Seriously.

The album’s weaknesses lie in Grande’s lyricism. The songs all have the same central theme but vary wildly in writing quality.

“Love language” and “pov” — the standout songs on the album — include clever and comforting lyrics that reference Grande’s personal growth in the time since “thank u, next” and “Sweetener.” But, they’re often overshadowed by pockets of uncharacteristically lazy lines, most notably in “just like magic,” where she details her itinerary for the day and teaches the listener how to snap.


“Positions” may not be the most cohesive or technically-impressive Grande album, but it’s certainly her happiest. Each song exudes confidence, strength and hope for the future — something we’ve been missing from Grande in recent releases. If this is what a switch-up from Grande looks like, I’m looking forward to whatever direction she chooses next.

3.5/5 stars.


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