Archive | September 2014

Ariana Grande – My Everything (Album Review)

First of all, I have to apologise for my recent disappearance from my blog! I’ve been meaning to return for a while but things have been pretty hectic lately, I came back from a holiday in Dubai which scuppered my schedule and then as soon as I got back I was a finalist in a competition with 4Music to be their music reviewer which took up a lot of my time! (I came third) but now that’s all over I can finally resume my blog with the hotly anticipated sophomore album by Ariana Grande, so let’s begin shall we?

Hot off the heels from Grande’s debut number one hit album “Yours Truly” Ariana Grande is quick to take advantage of her success and follow up with a second album whilst the kettle is still hot! She’s said to have changed up her style from her bluesy pop songs to her straight up ballads to give us more of a mainstream crossover whilst still remaining true to her R&B fans. Will she be able to juggle both? Let’s get to the first track from “ My Everything”

Intro:

So the intro is a short piano led blues track which is supposed to set the mood for the album. It reminds me of her previous work on “Yours Truly” which leaves me intrigued. In fact it reminds me of Honeymoon Avenue which is coincidentally the first track on “Yours Truly”. Otherwise, it’s a nice intro and sets up a nice atmosphere.

Problem (Feat Iggy Azalea):

When I first heard “Problem” I completely loved it, it brought Ariana Grande to the main front and her management were smart to capitalise on the saxophone trend happening in music. The chorus is catchy and the overall song presents strength as she shows her independence and leaves her good for nothing boyfriend. However, I have noticed the whisper hook makes the song lose energy, especially after the “Head in the clouds” pre-hook. Iggy Azalea’s rap is pretty good as well, a little short, but it was a smart choice to include her since both artists are arguably the most successful females of the year. Overall, this song is a great club song and just a great song to jam to.

One Last Time:

“One Last Time” is the first dance number on the album. I’m a little annoyed that I saw a comment on YouTube asking whether the lyric is “I know I should have farted at least I’m being honest” when the actual lyric is “I know I have should have fought it, at least I’m being honest.” So now I can longer listen to that lyric properly! This brings to question whether Ariana has sorted out her enunciation of words which seemed to be a bit of a problem from her first album. The track is about being with her lover at least one last time before he leaves since she broke his heart. It’s a pretty standard setup for a dance track but at least the lyrics make sense. Overall, this is a decent dance track that isn’t bad but it doesn’t make me want to get up on the dance floor.

Why Try:

Why Try is a fast paced pop ballad which deals with a problematic relationship that has its issues, but that’s what Ariana loves about it. I can’t help but think this track sounds like a leftover song from Rihanna’s ‘Talk That Talk’ album. I mean it’s not bad at all but it’s easily dispensable and I can’t see it fighting to be a single any time soon. I guess if you can relate with the lyrics you’ll appreciate it more.

Break Free:

I’m not really sure what this song is about, the verses sound as if her and a guy like each other but are too afraid to admit it, but in the chorus it sounds as if this guy is actually her boyfriend who’s no good and she’s no longer under his spell *cue independent woman*.  Not only that, but when I make these reviews I like to read the lyrics as I listen to the song and Ariana Grande really does pronounce her words weirdly, unless the lyric website has it wrong. When I first heard this track before the album, I didn’t like it. I found it to be too generic and a step back for Ariana Grande. I was surprised because Zedd who produced the track made some great singles last year but Break Free didn’t stand out. It then made me fear that the album would be completely Pop and we’d lose her R&B groove. But a few weeks later, the song has grown on me, mostly because the hook is catchy and I could imagine enjoying it in the club. It’s still not the best dance track in the world and will probably be forgotten within a few months. It’s like fast food music, it’s not great but it’ll do because I can’t be bothered to cook something spectacular.

Best Mistake (Feat Big Sean):

I heard this song first as a promo single and it immediately made me regain faith in the album not succumbing to its pop singles. The production is dark and mysterious and immediately made me pay attention. I didn’t really notice Ariana’s lyrics due to her enunciation yet again. I know some people can look past it but I could only guess what the song was about when it got to the chorus. It’s basically about being fed up with an on and off relationship which could possibly be related to Ariana Grande’s own private life with her ex Jai Brooks. I like Big Sean as an addition to the song, it suits his style and he tells the other half’s side of the story with a few smart lyrics “I wish that you were happy I guess that’s the one thing I should be providing Ain’t no number twos, we both ones of ones and we the oddest Couple only humans ‘cept you, you a goddess”. Overall, I like this track and it reassures me that Ariana Grande hasn’t completely shed her R&B style.

Be My Baby (Feat Cashmere Cat):

Be My Baby instantly struck a chord with me, the production is fire and Ariana Grande handles herself well on the track. It sounds like a hybrid of her previous singles “Right There” and “The Way” and normally I would frown at an artist rehashing the same formula but this works. In fact, since it features no irrelevant rapper it gets a nod from me. The song explains that if you want to be Ariana Grande’s lover you’ve gotta get with her friends, wait wrong song! If you want to be Grande’s lover you need to treat her right and then she’ll be on you all night long. This is the first track on the album that shows Ariana Grande’s maturity as she talks a little more about intimacy and sex but not in a bold manner. As much as I love the production it could have done with a little more bass but overall this song is one of the highlights.

Break Your Heart Right Back (Feat Childish Gambino):

So I had to ask my friend if this song was about one of Ariana Grande’s boyfriend’s being secretly gay (as if the ‘Coming out’ sample wasn’t obvious enough!). I mean I loved the song before but I love the song even more now! It’s refreshing to hear a song like this which is tongue and cheek but also sad, it handles it very well. The production is amazing and Childish Gambino’s rap is hilarious as he spells out gay “Yes I’m a G, from the A, and they ask why”.  I was fearful of the sample at first since it’s been in many iconic singles before but it works so well. This for me is also another highlight for the album and should be a single with a funny video!

Love Me Harder (Feat The Weeknd)

When I heard that Ariana Grande had collaborated with The Weeknd I was very surprised. That’s because his music is very adulterated in comparison to Ariana Grande’s bubblegum pop reputation. His verse on the track is a bit risqué in my opinion seeing as Grande’s fans are quite young but overall this is a surprisingly great collaboration that I’m sure no one asked for. It’s as if this is what Lady Gaga wanted from her R Kelly collaboration but didn’t quite nail with “Do What U Want”. The song talks about her boyfriend having to try harder if he wants to keep her. Overall, I think this could be a great single in the future as it would resonate with pop and R&B fans.

Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart:

I was surprised when I heard Harry Styles from One Direction wrote this song but I can actually imagine him singing this. Lyrically it deals with Grande not knowing how to approach her cheating boyfriend because she doesn’t want to leave him because she loves him. The chorus at the end brings it all together and it’s a nice listen. The production is very laid back with a piano taking the helm for most of the song. Overall, it’s a nice song to chill to.

Hands On Me (Feat A$ap Ferg)

I know that technically Ariana Grande is legal and she’s a young adult, but she seems so innocent to be singing about being a “little thing but I like that long”. I hope this doesn’t become a single with a music video for her own sake because I can’t see her pulling off the sexy Rihanna thing. Other than that, this track is really catchy, the production is full of life and gets you dancing. I have no idea who A$ap Ferg is either but he acts as a good hype man for the song. My favourite part of the song is the “it’s your birthday” part at 1:57 where the beat starts to remind of Will I Am’s ‘Feeling Myself’ featuring Miley Cyrus. Overall this is a great party tune.

My Everything:

My Everything sounds like what the intro was transitioning to. It’s another piano driven track with honest lyrics saying how after a failed relationship it’s only now she realises how much he meant to her. You can’t help but think this song is about her ex in real life. This song is definitely for whoever that person is.

Bang Bang (Feat Jessie J, Nicki Minaj) (Bonus Track)

I’ll be honest, as much as people love this track, I am simply not a fan, but let me explain. I dislike how there isn’t an intro to begin with, Jessie J is known for being a bit of a belter and I don’t mind that, but the song literally starts at the top, and ends at the top. It doesn’t really climb to a climatic chorus like most good songs do. By the time it does get to the last chorus Jessie J literally sounds like she’s screaming since she can’t sing any higher. The production lacks melody leaving the verses a little boring and the lyrics are OK with their mediocre metaphors but are not exactly memorable. I feel as if the highlight of the track is Nicki Minaj, her flow is great and the lyrics are pretty sassy and she brings it all together in the end. Ariana does her thing on the song, but she doesn’t leave a mark like Nicki Minaj does. She could have been replaced by Christina Aguilera and no one would say know the difference. So for me, this song is a pass, but it’s been a hit on the charts and on the radio so I’m obviously the minority. If you like this song, be sure to get the deluxe edition!

Only 1 (Bonus Track)

Only 1 is about being in a relationship with someone so hot and loving that they must be cheating! It seems Ariana Grande isn’t used to having a problem free relationship so has to create a problem herself! But all jokes aside, this song is OK. It sounds like a less single worthy version of “Baby I” and is probably why it was made a bonus track. But it’s a nice track.

You Don’t Know (Bonus Track)

You Don’t Know takes me back to the early noughties R&B sound. The harmonies displayed remind me of old school Brandy and the beat reminds me of R&B Jennifer Lopez. The song is about people claiming they know who Ariana Grande is through the media when really they don’t. It’s a great song and I actually think it shouldn’t be a bonus track but an official track as it’s one of my favourites and is a great way to end the album.

Overall

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed “My Everything” it has it’s string of hit pop songs but it also keeps the R&B vibe I was hoping for. Ariana Grande’s vocals are pretty much flawless on the album as she harmonises and delivers strong vocals when needed. The features all deliver a great job too and none of them sounded like they were just shoved in there for a hit. The same goes for production, although some of it is a bit “heard this before” there are productions that shine such as “Break Your Heart Right Back”. Some of the negatives would be that Grande really needs to work on her enunciation of words. I honestly don’t know if I would have understood half the lyrics without looking for them through a website and it can take you out of the song as you try and understand what she says. Another criticism would be the dance tracks that don’t hit as much as you want them to. The pop songs are fine but Break Free and One Last Time could have been a bit more creative and stood out more. Maybe if she collaborated with Calvin Harris instead she could have secured a great club banger that would last the ages. But as a result, I think this is a solid sophomore album for Ariana Grande and I’d buy it on iTunes. My Everything has a big lead single and if she places her future single choices correctly she’ll have plenty more chart successes. I’ll definitely be interested to see what she comes up with next!

Rating: It’s worth purchasing on iTunes

Highlights: Break Your Heart Right Back, Be My Baby, Love Me Harder

Lowlights: Ariana Grande’s lack of enunciation, One Last Time, generic dance tracks

Let me know what you thought of the album in the comments below! Did you love it, hate it or somewhere in between?

Also, let me know what album I should review in the future?

– Raheem

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