Ariana Grande’s last album, Yours Truly, showed so much promise. The former Nickelodeon star emerged as a woman with stylish RnB undertones and a voice that harks back to Mariah Carey’s glory days. The problem with Yours Truly was that at times it felt a little old-fashioned and slipped into ballad territory too often. On album number two, My Everything, she’s rectified those problems.
Just looking at the production notes of the album is like reading a list of the biggest producers in pop right now. She’s pulled in Max Martin, Zedd, Benny Blanco, Darkchild and newbies like Cashmere Cat and Lido to deliver an album that sounds acutely aware of the current musical climax. First single, Problem, is one of the biggest pop songs of the years thanks to its genius brass hook and her second single Break Free is an EDM banger that showcases Grande’s voice expertly. Together the two tracks tell a tale of what is popular in the charts right now- RnB and dance-pop.
Every song on the album could easily make an indent on the chart but it doesn’t feel like My Everything has been made purely to please the masses. By pulling in rappers like A$AP Ferg and Childish Gambino, she’s embracing a whole new audience, usually snobby to popstars with this status. The album’s biggest risk is pulling in Norwegian producer Cashmere Cat but it pays off in droves. His track, Be My Baby, is an album highlight with Grande’s voice trilling at its giddy heights over a cascading beat.
Some of the most impressive moments come when she treads a careful line between dance-pop and RnB. Love Me Harder is built on a dense bed of synths and throbbing bass with Grande and guest vocalist, The Weeknd adding the soul. One Last Time is also an understated, bass-pumper with a chorus that never completely takes off with Grande choosing melody over vocal-belting. It’s a wise choice.
The album strays into ballad territory twice on the title track and on the Harry Styles-penned, Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart and they do very little for the record. Thankfully she follows up the latter with the bizarre, brass-sampling, Hands On Me, which helps things get interesting again. A$AP’s first venture into a pop-feature is a chest-puffed, obnoxious verse which suits the track perfectly.
My Everything is not perfect. At times the ballads get a little self-indulgent and it jumps around genres fervently but it’s a product of a music world where trends are constantly changing. By taking a bass of RnB and building on that, Grande has delivered an album that makes sense as a whole. The songs individually, however, are pearlers. Rarely does a track feel like a filler, rather sounding like she’s pulled out the big guns for every moment. In terms of the big sellers this year, My Everything would have to be one of the best. 7.5/10
See below as we further explore the anatomy of My Everything.