Ariana Grande explores her truth on “Sweetener”

Jordan Jewell, Staff Reporter

Ariana Grande’s last album release was in 2016, with her fan favorite entitled “Dangerous Woman.” The pop superstar had a fairly quiet 2017, taking a break from social media and promising to return to the scene in 2018.

Staying true to her promise, Grande released “Sweetener” on Aug. 17. The 17-track album presents a new, more mature sound in comparison to her previous releases. The fan favorite single “God is a Woman” is one of the most notable songs of the summer, with a revolutionary music video to match.

Grande has been teasing the album to fans since her return to social media in April. Tweeting out lyrics and playing snippets on her Instagram stories, she’s been slowly building suspense for months.

“Sweetener” is Grande’s attempt at finding a silver lining following a suicide bombing at her Manchester tour stop in 2017. The bombing killed 23 people and left the singer traumatized and battling PTSD. The first single off the album, “No Tears Left to Cry,” talks about moving on from the tragedy and rediscovering happiness.

Just before she began promoting “Sweetener,” the singer experienced a very public break up with rapper Mac Miller. The pair dated for three years and, according to Grande, had a “toxic relationship.” Only a few weeks after the breakup, Grande got engaged to comedian Pete Davidson, who inspired tracks like “Pete Davidson” and “Goodnight n Go.” “Pete Davidson” is a fan favorite, despite being only one minute and 14 seconds long.

Grande’s engagement has become a meme on most social media platforms. Onlookers think that the couple is rushing their relationship or even using the proposal as a way to garner publicity. But this album makes one thing perfectly clear: Ariana Grande is in love. More than half the tracks on the album talk about falling in love and how the experience has truly “cured” Grande of the PTSD and anxiety she once felt.

The songs work together to tell a story of healing and happiness. The album is strikingly honest in comparison to previous work from Grande. The former Nickelodeon star who once sported cat ears and tutus now explores new depths, while still providing fans with the upbeat and catchy style for which she’s known.

Although she’s often grouped with teen idols like Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez, Grande’s vocal talent is often compared to the likes of Mariah Carey and Celine Dion. Her vocals are incredibly strong on “Sweetener,” particularly in the song “Breathin.” The track showcases her vocal ability without overkilling it. There isn’t one particular moment that makes you think, “Wow, she can sing,” but rather, the whole song reminds you why she’s grouped with the greats.

Tracks like “Raindrops,” “Get Well Soon” and “Better Off” focus on how Grande has dealt with her demons and remained positive through her struggles. Other tracks like “Sweetener,” “Successful” and “Blazed” show fans that Grande hasn’t forgotten how to have a little fun.

This album feels like the most authentic work that Grande has released. She abandoned her Nickelodeon phase, but she didn’t force any sex appeal or edginess. While listening to the album in full, it becomes clear that this is the real Ariana Grande. 

Rating: 5/5 stars