Written by Erica Rose Jackson
Ariana Grande is back with the release of her fourth studio album Sweetener and she continues to evolve as an artist, raising the bar. With each record, Grande shows her ability to grow without compromising what makes her unique among the industry. Her latest album features artists Pharrell Williams, Nicki Minaj, and Missy Elliott adding edge to her sweetheart vocals. Keep reading for my track by track breakdown and final verdict on Sweetener.
Note: Interludes and short intros will not be in the breakdown.
‘Blazed’ featuring Pharrell Williams - This song has Williams written all over it and is only made sweeter by Grande’s voice. After the soulful, acapella intro, ‘blazed’ is an excellent way to start this album. She starts us on our feet.
‘the light is coming’ featuring Nicki Minaj - Sweetener starts with its edge on the Minaj feature. This track feels much like Minaj’s album Queen and plays well off the Grande feature on it ‘Bed’. Minaj and Grande are no strangers to each other and continue to work extremely well together.
‘R.E.M.’ - Grande goes back to a more expected sound for ‘R.E.M.’ but that doesn’t mean the song isn’t good. It’s subtle and Grande proves, once again, she doesn’t need to do belts and runs to show off. Plus, it has a great 50’s vibe.
‘sweetener’ - The title track serves as a sugar sweet song hiding a dirty meaning. It’s more subtle in some spots then others but overall, one of the friskier tracks while also being sweet (pun intended).
‘successful’ - A female empowerment song that gets a little lost in the delivery with too many beats and vocals. This is the first track, I wasn’t a huge fan of upon my multiple listens of the album.
‘everytime’ - Here is a more upbeat version of Selena Gomez’s ‘Back to You’ but that’s ok because I love this one just as much. I am a sucker for lyrics like these though and I would call this my favorite track on the record.
‘breathin’ - Another highlight from Sweetener, ‘breathin’ is a relatable track that’s sappy but we all love that.
‘no tears left to cry’ - The album’s lead single is a much more pop vibe then the rest of Sweetener which is edgier then Grande’s usual sound. This song was the right way to introduce her new work because it is familiar and it’s a bop, for sure. I am still feeling this track even with the radio playing it constantly.
‘borderline’ featuring Missy Elliott - Chasing the man is a common pop theme and this song is average. I wish Missy Elliott had been given a meatier track to be featured on.
‘better off’ - Grande gives us a vulnerable feel in ‘better off’ in a track about wanting a strictly physical relationship. The risk of getting hurt isn’t worth even a little bit of emotion. ‘“I’d rather have your body then half of your heart.”
‘goodnight n go’ - Feeding off of ‘better off’, here Grande is resisting the urge to fall for the guy. She’s open to the fantasy of what could be, but again she keeps her walls up.
‘get well soon’ - An excellent ending to a great album. The final track a heartfelt ballad.
Final Verdict - Ariana Grande only gets better with each music project she delivers and Sweetener is not different. I give this album an A-.