Ariana Grande’s Sweetener: A Track-by-Track Review

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Taylor Henderson

After months of teasing, Ariana Grande finally dropped her fourth studio album Sweetener. More than a year after the tragedy during her concert in Manchester, Ariana seems determined to uplift, empower, and party with her young (and gay) fanbase by singing and dancing through any kind of heartache that comes her way.

PRIDE did a quick review of the 15-track album of pop perfection.

raindrops (an angel cried)

C'mon vocals! Sweetener's opening track is no "Moonlight," but it is the most sangin' we'll get for the entire album. The 38-second prelude is certainly one hell of a beginner. 

blazed

This duet between Ari and Sweetener producer Pharrell offers her signature layered vocals and a really fun "Blurred Lines" inspired beat. The track isn't exactly a standout, but I did utter an "okay, cute" when it ended. 

the light is coming

Ariana's second promotional single of the album is certainly polarizing. While some hate the almost abstract way the sparse instrumentals piece the song together, the repetition of "the light is coming to give back everything the darkness stole" really makes it irresistibly catchy. The Nicki Minaj verse is pretty forgettable, but when that tropical beat picks up in the second half of the chorus, it's impossible not to get up and dance. And the music video may be a Reebok commercial, but it's the best damn Reebok commercial I've ever seen.

R.E.M.

Originally a Beyoncé demo, Ariana has taken the dreamy track and transformed into something sweet and savory that makes you feel young and in love. The doo-wop feel for R.E.M. calls back Yours Truly's "Tattooed Heart" and is a welcome sequel. While certainly a vibe, it's not the most dazzling track and is perhaps a missed opportunity for some stunning Ariana vocals. 

God is a woman

This song converted me. Give her her Grammy! The guitar riff. The trap beat. The whistle tones. That "GOD IS A WOMAN" belt! And it all climaxes into the punch in the face by the Ariana Grande First Baptist Gospel Chorus and makes me want to get punched again and again and again. Some points were made! 

sweetener

Anyone else getting some major Christmas and Chill vibes? The title track is a standout simply for the transition from the candied vocals of the pre-chorus that sweetly slide into "GET IT GET IT HIT IT HIT IT HIT IT HIT IT FLIP IT FLIP IT" over a hard trap beat. I can't wait to get hype to this in my shower.

successful

This song is my least favorite on the album and perhaps the only one I would go as far to say that I dislike. The instrumentals sound like background music in some Carribean-themed video game and celebrities bragging about how successful they are does nothing for me except make me wonder why my parents didn't force me into becoming a child star.  

everytime

A whole bop! A heavy trap beat while Ariana serves vocals and sings of an ex she can't seem to let go. If you're a fan of Dangerous Woman, "everytime" feels like a bridge between the two albums. 

breathin

She's giving the gays everything they want! "breathin" gives you that feeling of drowning in someone else's love, so much so that you literally have to remind yourself to breathe. Plenty of early 2000s, pop girl vibes. I can already hear the screams when this song comes on in a club. 

no tears left to cry

The first single off Sweetener that dropped almost four months ago, and "no tears left to cry" is still an empowering "I'm moving on" anthem. I'm picking it up...

borderline

The Missy Elliot feature is far too short, but "Once you tastin' my ice cream, I bet you won't ever leave" is easily one of the best lines on the album.  Feels a bit like a Ciara throwback, but not necessarily in an endearing way. 

better off

Ariana warns the boys not to fall in love with her in this eulogy to love. Even though the first line of this song sounds like, "You keep me in your armpit," the song promptly got me in my feelings. She even goes on to sing, "Let's put them topics to bed and go fuck on the roof." We love a queen who sings about getting dicked down at 70 bpm!

goodnight n go

Ariana really has a talent for making a hookup sound like a whole YA novel romance. The re-engineered Imogen Heap song makes me want to fall in love with someone. Any takers? 

pete davidson

If this sickly sweet interlude dedicated to her fiancé Pete Davidson doesn't make you go "awwwwwwwwww," you have no heart. (But where's my boyfriend??!?!!)

get well soon

A love letter for the anxiety-ridden and those "floating" through life, Ariana wants the track to be like a hug, warm and comforting for the listeners. She goes back to her Yours Truly roots with the beat, snaps, and vocals, and the Migos-inspired "WHEW" adlibs add a fun element while she wishes for peace for her fans. The forty seconds of silence at the end dedicated to the victims of the Manchester Bombing is sobering and emotional. 

Sweetener

8.5/10. Sweetener is most certainly Ariana's most cohesive and mature body of work. Filled to the brim with bops and tears and feels, I can't wait to listen to the album on repeat for the rest of my life. 

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