Ariana Grande's Sweetener: What You Need To Know
Were it not for the tragic events that unfolded at Ariana Grande's Manchester concert in May 2017, it's quite possible that we could have been listening to the singer's fourth album this time last year. However, after the bombing which took the lives of 23 people and injured 139 more, Grande understandably decided to take some time to reflect, which inevitably led to changes in the original plan.
However, new music began emerging in spring this year and this week finally sees the arrival of Grande's fourth full-length offering. It's called Sweetener, it makes its arrival in stores today, and here's everything you need to know about it...
A little background...
As far back as November 2016, just six months after the release of Dangerous Woman, it seemed we'd be getting a follow-up to the singer's third album sooner rather than later, with the singer stating that she had 'finished' album number four. However, by December she had evidently had a change of heart and revealed that she was 'still working' on the album, and following the tragic outcome of her now-infamous Manchester concert in May the following year, the singer admitted that events had prompted a "hard reset" on her plans for the next record.
Towards the end of 2017 the singer posted various images of her working in the studio to her Instagram, but the first sign of new music didn't arrive until April this year, when the singer revealed that her next album would be called Sweetener and unveiled the album's lead single, 'No Tears Left to Cry'.
Who's producing it?
Grande has roped in some big guns with the likes of Pharrell Williams and Max Martin adding production contributions to the album, but there are also credits for plenty more including Tommy Brown, Ilya and Savan Kotecha.
Any special guests?
Nicki Minaj appears on the Pharrell-produced 'The Light Is Coming', while Williams also adds vocals to the album's second track 'Blazed'. The other big name guest is none other than Missy Elliot, who adds her unmistakable touch to 'Borderline', another one of Pharrell's production contributions to the album.
What does it sound like?
Sweetener is a real smorgasbord of musical styles and flavours, with tracks like 'God is a Woman' making use of influences from trap and reggae, while 'No Tears Left to Cry' takes the unlikely combination of disco and UK garage-style beats, spinning them into and almighty dance-pop anthem.
Elsewhere there are influences of hip-hop and R&B, a case in point being the stuttering beats on the dancefloor-filling 'The Light is Coming'. Overall though there's a feeling that this is a much more grown-up set of songs from the singer, and while the new record is anything but downbeat, there's also evidence that Grande is maturing as an artist on her fourth album.
Does it deliver?
With big, powerful hooks, dancefloor-filling grooves and anthemic choruses all over the new album, Sweetener has everything a big pop record should and will no doubt be a hit with her army of fans. Unsurprisingly, given everything that has transpired over the last couple of years, there are sombre notes here and there and the sense of a more grown-up approach to songwriting – especially where the lyrics are concerned – but that growth was perhaps inevitable anyway and here Grande shows that she can mix it up with the very best.