With Dangerous Woman, Ariana Grande is making her claim as the definitive pop star of today. The current crop of pop girls isn’t too impressive, and Ariana has a decent shot at the throne: she’s got killer pipes and chart topping hits, something that not many of her peers can boast. Selena Gomez has the hits but not the voice, and Demi Lovato’s got the voice but not the hits. Ariana mixes both, and is poised to take the current pop girl crown for herself. Unfortunately, Dangerous Woman isn’t enough to cement her as an icon, but the groundwork is still all there.
Ariana’s strength lies in her voice. Often dubbed “baby Mariah” thanks to her impressive high notes, Ariana has a vocal ability unlike many of her peers. However her technique still needs work – she’s often been taken to task for mumbling through her songs, with good reason. Her lack of enunciation and preference to do soft, breathy runs actual downplay her talent — compare her recent duet on The Voice with Christina Aguilera (who outsings Ariana with ease) to her showoff impression of Celine Dion and Whitney Houston. Ariana could easily be a powerhouse vocalist, but she’s not quite there yet.
“Not quite there yet” is the apparent theme of Dangerous Woman, which boasts catchy songs but nothing that will prove memorable. There’s no innovation in Ariana’s pop – she plays with multiple genres, but nothing seems to really be “her.” Her choices for duets is also eclectic: chart topper Future raps one word over and over again in “Everyday,” Lil Wayne drops a (borderline unnecessary) verse on the sexy “Let Me Love You,” while Nicki Minaj raps along in reggae attempt “Side to Side” and Macy Gray (seriously) joins in on the bluesy “Leave Me Lonely.”
Ariana’s dropped five singles off this album already: standouts “Be Alright” and “Into You,” title track “Dangerous Woman,” and the aforementioned hip-hop collars “Let Me Love You” and “Everyday.” I think that more than anything cements Ariana’s problem: she’s a singles artists through and through. There’s nothing unique and nothing that sounds completely her because it’s meant to be picked apart and put on the radio – who needs cohesion? When you’re looking for number ones why not have a mix of pop, urban and dance to hit all the charts at once?
Ariana may have a leg up on many of her peers, but Dangerous Woman proves she’s still not ready to take the crown.
BEST SINGLE: “Into You”
ALBUM TRACK JAM: “Greedy”
DELETE IT: “Sometimes”