How raunchy can an album be?

Ariana Grande in the official music video for 'Positions'. (Courtesy of YouTube)

On October 30, 2020, Ariana Grande released her sixth album, Positions. This album has earned the artist her 20th Guinness World Record by breaking the previous record for the most songs to debut at number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in history. Reviews for Grande’s latest album have been mixed, with the majority of listeners disappointed. But is it all that bad? 

Born Ariana Grande-Butera, the 27-year-old American singer, songwriter, and actress initially started her career in the Broadway musical 13 and rapidly rose to fame through her role as Cat Valentine in the Nickelodeon television series Victorious. She gained massive success after the show ended and continued her acting career through several live major shows like Hairspray Live! and Scream Queens.

While working on the album, Grande was already in a relationship with realtor Dalton Gomez. Many critics are saying that the album is her raunchiest and most boring album yet. They believe it’s all about her sex life with her now-confirmed fiancé Dalton Gomez.

However, not everyone thinks that it is as nasty and sparkless as some have said it is. There is definitely greatness to be found within the album. When asked for her thoughts on the album’s supposed crudeness, third-year nursing student Cinduya Sivarajah says, “It is kind of dirty, but she’s always written about love.” The songs all have that “soft tempo to them except for ‘positions’, that one’s a little more upbeat.” 

“The songs, like the beat, are pretty vintage,” explains fourth-year nursing student Nilaany Vijayaranjan. “It reminds me of the 1950s or 1960s, where women were expected to be housewives — ironically.”

Sivarajah also noticed that Grande’s songs are “very soft and different from her previous albums where they were more upbeat. On this album, they all kind of sound similar because of the soft melody.” 

Despite this, YouTuber AJayll has noticed a resemblance in the beat of Grande’s “thank u, next” and “34+35” mentioned in his reaction video to the Positions album. 

Sivarajah believes that many artists, just like Grande, have been inspired by their own voice and tone to create a different story for a similar melody. 

When asked if there was a mood or theme to the song, Sivarajah says that the tone is confident, “like a boss” — a perspective not popularly shared among other reviewers.

At first I found that I disagreed with Sivarajah’s opinion, but then I listened to the album once again and tossed out my preconceived notions. Grande has matured a lot as an artist and like many others, she is still finding her voice to share with the world.

Vijayaranjan had initially listened to “magic”, “34+35”, “pov”, and “positions” before concluding that the album “is empowering for listeners and it is definitely a different perspective in comparison to her previous albums.”

Not being afraid to share with the world who you truly are seems to be the essence of this album. At this point, it is debatable — and quite possible — that the album is inspired by her relationship with her fiancé. While it may certainly be about sex, it also shows her power as an artist; she is not afraid to feel, express, and share those intimate emotions inside of her. 

To me, this is the main message of Positions. The themes of empowerment and confidence communicates and encourages the sharing of what it feels like to be in love. It expresses all those sensual thoughts that we may have in our minds when we’re in love.

Through her music, Grande has shown us the possibilities of the stories and emotions expressed in a song. It does not have to be about a specific person or about keeping it PG-13, since sexual desires are natural when you love someone. It can be a reference to ourselves and what we are thinking.

“It’s also a nice retro throwback since we’re in the new 20s,” says Vijayaranjan. 

The album is worth listening to, especially for those who are coming of age, uncertain, and cautious to express how they feel. You may be shocked to hear what she is singing about, but it will likely give you more confidence as a person.

So how raunchy can Positions be? As raunchy as Ariana Grande wants it to be.

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By Cindy Huynh

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