Ariana Grande – Dangerous Woman (Album Review)
Artist: Ariana Grande
Album: Dangerous Woman
Standout(s): Greedy, Into You, Be Alright
The big pink elephant in the room with Ariana Grande was her pint-size childlike image and her seemingly (questionable) homage to Mariah Carey. These two things have slightly tarnished her public persona. Not a significant negative but it does dwell over her head. How can she present herself as a woman and step out of Mariah’s shadow? I suppose this new album is the answer to that question.
The title track served as the lead single for this new album. Dangerous Woman is a declaration of Ariana’s womanhood. Her evolution seems completely contingent on her discovering sex and the man that plows her garden. The song is a good attempt to redefine her sound yet the concept is too sophomoric. It’s so old fashioned that it’s utterly absurd. The old saying “you become a woman after having sex” comes to mind. Have we traveled back to the 1950s?
Every song is dependent on this concept of some guy giving her a fake sense of confidence. She’s not really a “bad b#$ch” but she’s playing a role because this guy is “just so hot”. Despite the immature and patriarchal concept there are a few gems to be found. Her second single Into You is quite the tune. It’s the first time she found her own sound. It’s an urban electro-pop dance track. It functions as a less EDM version of Break Free. Be Alright is a gorgeous mid-tempo house track. The production is old school with great modern touches. Ariana’s voice is pretty and dazzling. There’s a great restraint used on this song.
There are so many generic trap-pop songs populating this record. With those tracks come forgettable phoned-in cameos. Albeit the songs are catchy, they do nothing for her artistically. They yield the same trendy and hapless moments that can be generated by any of her peers. The worst offender would be the ridiculous Everyday featuring the auto tune wonder Future. Sex seems to be the underlying theme throughout the album but this song overdoses on it. When Ariana sings “He gives me that good sh*t, that make me nut quick” the feeling of awkwardness fills the soul. This is easily the most cringe worthy lyric in the history of song writing. A shower is needed after listening. There’s many more cringe worthy and awkward lyrics scattered all over the album.
To break up the monotonous structure we are gifted with the retro glitter soul of Greedy. Greedy is a throwback to classic funk/disco. Her voice sounds even more amazing in this genre. The key change towards the end of the song is euphoric. Her duet with Macy Gray, Leave Me Lonely, gives a great soul power ballad. Also, conceptually the song becomes a warning to the kind of dangerous love that Ariana has been drunk on the entire album. Unfortunately she doesn’t take heed.
Ariana’s newfound “womanhood” seems very inauthentic. There was no natural progression like Rihanna, Britney, Madonna and Janet. Their transition into a sexual being was believable. Ariana isn’t even believable as a bad girl and now we’re supposed to believe that she’s this “dangerous” woman suddenly. It’s laughable. Conceptually, this album is poor. That’s not to say it’s not worth listening to. It has great hooks, trendy Top40 production and absurd lyrics. If you don’t try to dig deeply into the concept or ruminate over the themes, it can be a fun listen. It’s the kind of record for people that don’t take their music seriously. It’s a step up from Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato but it’s still very weak, contrived and immature. Ariana is not a dangerous woman. She’s not even a little mischievous. This album is the aural representation of Sandy’s bad girl transformation at the climax of Grease. We know this isn’t you Sandy. We’ll play along for now. Let’s play pretend.