Album Review: Ariana Grande x Dangerous Woman

(Released May 20th, 2016)

Songstress, and former Nickelodeon actress, Ariana Grande is looking to put her child star persona behind her with the release of her latest album “Dangerous Woman.” While the transition hasn’t been the easiest for Ariana, she’s managed to up the ante this go around. While her sophomore project My Everything put the train on the tracks toward appealing to a broader audience, Dangerous Woman seems to be the fire to really get things going. The musical stylings of this album blurs the line between her initial pop sound and tries to push the limit content wise while simultaneously blending in more R&B and keeping her core audience’s attention.

The opener track Moonlight, which was initially the album’s title, is reminiscent of Tattooed Heart and Daydreamin’ from her debut album Yours Truly. But it’s clear by the lyrics that things will be going down a mature road this time around, but she attempts to walk the line of crossing over into womanhood without making her core, and for the most part young, audience uncomfortable. This is present throughout the entire LP but the line between advancing into more adult territory and keeping her audience in mind does get a bit blurred at times. Touch It, Let Me Love You and Everyday are good examples of this. That limit is further pushed when the fifth track comes around.

Side To Side can be described as a toned down version of Nicki Minaj‘s Get On Your Knees and it only made sense that the singer and rapper teamed up again. The song catches the Caribbean bug that has been floating around mainstream media recently and features Nicki delivering some very Kimberly no-Parker esq bars. Other than Nicki’s feature, the other featured artists seemed to be more aware of the audience that they would be reaching by appearing on an Ariana Grande album. Both Lil Wayne and Future fell back from their usual codeine filled raps and delivered tolerable verses for not only Grande’s fans, but for their own fanbases as well; although Wayne did say “My ex trippin, it’s no Biggie/ I Tupac shook-her (Shakur)” but I can let that one slide.

Even though Wayne, Future and Nicki did good jobs on their parts, I was rather disappointed by Macy Gray‘s feature. She opens the song Leave Me Lonely and from the start it’s an attention grabber. Who would’ve thought to put the vocal stylings of Ariana Grande and Macy Gray together? Unfortunately Gray only lends her vocals for a repeated chorus. I was interested to see how their voices would blend and was a bit disappointed by her short appearance, but nonetheless, Leave Me Lonely is still a good song.

Ariana didn’t fully abandon her mainstream pop fans, which is smart. Sometimes,  Forever Boy and Thinking Bout You (no Frank Ocean) is perfect for new-found summer love and is sure to be posted all over a couples social media pages. With all of that, in an effort to truly showcase how much she’s coming into her own, I Don’t Care declares that she’s done worrying about what other people think of her and how they want her to live her life. I’m assuming that means on a personal and professional level.

Overall, Ariana Grande‘s third album Dangerous Woman is a solid project. While there are cons that could be pointed out, like her still not progressing vocally and learning how to enunciate better, that can be overlooked enough to enjoy the complete body of work. I’m not sure how the general public will respond to her attempts at showing “a princess being a bad bitch” but I’m sure she’ll continue doing what she feels is right. She has managed to continuously release good material and I hope that continues as time goes on as she embraces her adulthood more often.

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