ALBUM REVIEW – “My Everything” by Ariana Grande

Much as pop as a genre is criticised for frequently allowing singers of minimal talent who look good in press releases and music videos to occupy the cultural zeitgeist, truly great vocalists do from time to time emerge. The frequent description of Ariana Grande as the ‘new Mariah Carey’ if anything does her a disservice, as she already seems to posses the nous to control her voice to fit a song in a way her supposed predecessor never did. Regardless of whom she’s compared to, this is clearly a young lady with serious pipes and no need for computerised enhancement. What’s more, the sultry bare-bones modern R&B that makes up the bulk of second full-length My Everything is the perfect exhibition for her talents.

From the cascading multi-layered chorus of ‘Why Try’ (sadly not a Limp Bizkit cover), to the rich crooning tones she employs on ‘Best Mistake’, Grande’s voice is quite rightly the central attraction. The backing instrumentation flits between atmospheric piano and more bolstered electronica, for the most part effectively fitting the tone of each song. ‘One Last Time’ is a dynamic synth-led affair, that successfully incorporates an EDM influence without abandoning the album’s chief sonic thrust; in contrast, the closing title track drapes numerous vocal takes over a simple piano line, providing a sumptuous conclusion. A similar approach is taken to album standout ‘Just a Little Bit of Your Heart’, this in particular standing out thanks to orchestral swells and an absolute knockout vocal performance. Impeccably produced cuts like ‘Be My Baby’ strike a perfect balance between fullness and space, giving Grande plenty of room to let rip into the upper register of her voice.

All the ingredients of a truly excellent PBR&B-style record are in place. What keeps it from being so are the uncomfortable inclusions of songs that those fuelling Grande’s career knew would sell the record, but don’t fit its character at all. The Zedd produced ‘Break Free’ is a perfectly decent slice of pumping dance-pop, but lacks the character of most of the rest of the songs and doesn’t mesh well with them; the trashy ‘Hands On Me’ feels downright uncomfortable for Grande. ‘Problem’ suffers from similar issues, despite a catchy saxophone hook and a strong verse from Iggy Azalea; especially strong when contrasted to the other guest rappers, who without fail bring down the class of the record. Unsurprisingly, the best guest spot is on ‘Love Me Harder’, where modern R&B king The Weeknd shows clear vocal chemistry with Grande and brings out the best in the music, rather than running roughshod over it.

Were this young lady not saddled with the need to push her product into the saccharine waters of obvious, tasteless, lowest-common-denominator pop that the big business machine behind her knows will shift plenty of units, she could have put her name to an utterly fantastic record. As it stands, My Everything is still one of the better mainstream-targeted albums of recent years, thanks to its more characterful deep cuts and the sheer star quality of Ariana Grande herself. Cut out the populist dross and get to the good stuff – you may be surprised just how good it is.

Rating: 8 / 10

Michael Bird

‘Problem’

‘Be My Baby’

 

Ariana Grande

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  1. Ariana Grande Announces 2015 US Tour | RichardThinks.Org - September 10, 2014

    […] September 20th, with a Facebook presale taking place on September 18th. Be sure to check out our review of “My Everything” by Ariana Grande as […]

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