Artist of the Week: Ariana Grande
Miami vocalist Ariana Grande is the one truly interesting presence in mainstream pop music today. Her vocal range, strength, and clarity is completely unmatched, and it’s a legitimate treat to listen to her perform.
Grande started her music career on Broadway of all places, where she performed as Charlotte in 13. Then she was cast as Cat in Nickelodeon’s sitcom Victorious (which is legitimately funny; check it out. Not as funny as Drake & Josh though). It was clear she was a talent early on; she was by far the most popular character in Victorious, and her vocals were compared to Mariah Carey’s even back then.
Her debut album, Yours Truly, was decent, if unspectacular. The songs clearly exhibited her vocal prowess, but she wasn’t quite on the level of pop star necessary to get solid enough production to support those vocals. “The Way” was catchy, even if the guest verse from Mac Miller was cheesy. The one true highlight from that album was “Piano”, a Carey-esque pop tune that used 90s R&B harmonies in a wonderful way. “Piano” continues to be my favorite Grande track.
My Everything, Grande’s sophomore effort, established her as one of the few transcendent pop stars on mainstream radio. Smash hits like “Problem” and “Break Free” were soaring bangers with increased restraint, especially when compared to Grande’s earlier discography. “Love Me Harder” saw Grande join R&B singer/sex icon The Weeknd and helped distance Grande from her earlier, more family-friendly work. Finally, my favorite track on the record, “Why Try”, used vocals inspired by Imogen Heap to accentuate Grande’s heartbroken lyrics. My Everything is one of the strongest top-to-bottom pop albums of the past decade (even if it could use a few less guest rap verses).
The five sexiest songs on my phone
5. Autre Ne Veut | “Play By Play”
4. Ty Dolla $ign | “Or Nah” (feat. Wiz Khalifa and The Weeknd)
3. FKA twigs | “Two Weeks”
2. Rhye | “Open”
1. D’Angelo | “Untitled (How Does It Feel)”
Five songs I’m listening to this week
Tobias Jesso Jr. | “Without You”
Leon Bridges | “Better Man”
Rich Homie Quan | “Have You Ever”
Carnage | “I Like Tuh” (feat. iLoveMakonnen)