Sweetener is an album I anxiously waited for. Sweetener is an album that had a killer lead single that I ended up really loving. Sweetener is an album that, in my opinion, fell flat and didn’t live up to the hype. Upon hearing “no tears left to cry” and seeing Ariana’s ponytail as an icy blonde, I was so looking forward to it even though I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t listen to much of her work. But when the album was released and I listened to the entire thing, track by track, I was left a little bummed out. The project felt repetitive and a little forced; something about it just made it seem like Ariana just went with the flow of pop music instead of trying to set herself apart from other pop artists. I was bored with most of the songs and found myself waiting for it to be over until I came across a few placed right in the middle of the record that kept me going until the end.
After a round of songs that almost put me to sleep, “successful” came on and woke me right up. This is a Pharrell and Ariana combination that went right among the others that just went left. The production on this one almost reminds me of an updated version of Britney Spears’ “I’m A Slave 4 U” (which Pharrell also wrote and produced). The chill R&B beat, soft bubble sound effects, Grande’s easy going vocals and overall enjoyable vibe of the track make this a standout tune. This one reminds me of her previous R&B songs that she started out with but feels more mature and evolved, showing some really great artistic progression.
A relatable song with great melodies, what more can we ask for? This one is so well balanced when it comes to production and vocals; it’s very natural sounding and flows nicely from the first note to the last.
#3. “no tears left to cry”
Normally I would refrain from choosing a single as a memorable moment but if we’re being real here, “no tears left to cry” is simply amazing. From the lyrical imagery to the easy dance beat and Grande’s impressive vocals easily going between ranges, this is not only one of the best songs on the record but also one of the best songs she’s ever released. Just like the other picks, this one feels like a smooth progression into a more hip hop oriented feel without feeling disingenuous. It’s lighthearted and lively, and is a prime example of how much fun pop music really can be.