Ariana Grande has got to be one of the coolest people out in the public eye. In every interview, every social media post, she seems so friendly and happy and, dare I say it, normal. I mean, a glossy, un-achievable version of normality, sure, but still.
She’s relatable when she is blustering with bravado after a sad break up, when she’s heaping praise on her brilliant friends, and when she’s exploring her own sexuality and personality. All things that we all do and that we can relate to in some kind of way, right?
Ariana is incredibly talented in so many different ways: graceful and likeable in all public appearances, very funny every time she appears on Jimmy Fallon (look her up on Youtube to see her sketches), and of course, a hugely successful, productive and relevant recording artist — all this is on top of having to grow up in a spotlight.
Grande is comparable to the classic pop divas of the nineties and before: Madonna, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey: all from the same charismatic, remarkable, paradoxically unique mold. But her talents aren’t limited to enormous power ballads, she is as adept at making a boppy RnB tune or a catchy pop beat as she is at holding a glass-shattering top note.
Beyond being a glossy, magnetic, gorgeous pop star with a consistently successful career, Grande has also suffered immense tragedy in front of a global audience. Mac Miller, who’s tragic death shook the music world back in 2018, was her ex-long term partner and Grande has spoken at length about her misery at losing him. A year before, Grande’s sell-out show in Manchester was targetted by a suicide bomber who’s actions took 23 lives and damaged countless others. Grande has again been publicly open about her devastation and sense of responsibility following the attack. In short, she is a woman of depth and empathetic feeling which is reflected in her music too.
Here’s our rundown of the very best albums Ariana has given the world in her less than a decade-long music career so far.
1) Thank u, next (2019)
The album that came from a host of personal and public tragedy, Grande stated publicly that the point of this record was to be honest, open and communicative with her fans. Besides the fact that the production on this record is fire (check the samples on 7 rings) Grande looks like a whole meal on the record cover: vampy and confident: a total contrast to the cover for Sweetner from the year before.
2) Sweetener (2018)
This record feels like a really real listening experience: Grande’s personality comes through on the tracks very clearly and she seems to finally allow her personality and charisma to match her enormous voice. More controlled and careful than thank u, next, but nevertheless a compelling release.
3) Dangerous Woman (2016)
This record seems like where Grande made a decision to go from Nickelodeon prodigy to fully fledged sexy pop icon. Emphasised by the latex bunny ears she wears in the album artwork, the mouth in a sex-doll pout, Grande takes control of the way she is sexualised in the media by leaning into it. This is reflected in the albums content which is full of RnB rhythms and breathy vocals.
4) Positions (2020)
Grande’s most recent record, her third in as many years, is still a very impressive collection of tracks but it is much less impressive than the 2 that went before. I personally feel like she could have refined some of the songs and switched up the tempo a little bit, but at the same time the tracks are nice and chilled and who has the energy for an anthem at the moment anyway?
5) My Everything (2014)
This record is surely hugely influenced by Christina Aguilleria’s classic Stripped right? Except Stripped is a better album despite the fact that it is about 8 tracks too long… Anyway, My Everything is a diva classic, the black and white album artwork, the soaring vocals, the RnB inspo, it is very clearly influenced by the women who went before and pays respectful homage to them! It’s a great record, just not as indicative of Grande’s personality as her more recent, more confident work.
6) Yours Truly (2013)
Grande’s debut album (after an adolescent career at Nickelodeon) was released when she was 20 and it provided the perfect space for this resounding, huge, breathtaking voice that she manages to keep locked up in her tiny little body.
The debut is a curious reworking of her musical theatre influences, and was a clear statement of where she was initially coming from as an artist. Again, this album is very obviously not as confident or well realised as her more recent work. But she made it 8 years ago, so why would it be? Yours Truly is still a brilliant demonstration of an impressive set of pipes, a comprehensive knowledge of musical theatre and has a few impressive features for a debut (Big Sean and Mac Miller). NOT a bad record. Just not her best!