Ariana Grande: Positions (Deluxe) Review - Princess of Pop's small treat is nothing too special
Ranked among one of the best albums of 2020, Grande treats fans to four (five if you count the 34+35 Remix) new tracks that extend and strengthen Positions' unique and distinctive style and sound. While the development is limited, the gift of new music from Ariana is always welcomed and works as a delightful surprise that many will appreciate.
'Someone like you' is a short interlude that combines brass, R&B beats, and layered vocals. It's sweet but, you can understand why it didn't make the final cut. Fans of Ari's neat and clever production will enjoy this little piece of heaven that feels very 21st century that infuses touches of classic 90s genres. The first few bars give a fairytale feel that seems to be one of the main themes for the album itself. It's short, it's charming, but it's nothing too special.
'Test drive' synth keyboard opening screams old-school R&B and is a different choice that works in Grande's favour. You can hear the influence of Parks and Monet in this track, endorsing a fab beat that pairs nicely with Ariana's breathy layered vocals. 'Test drive' matches Positions' trap-pop sound but ends, quite abruptly which is odd from the pop superstar, feeling almost unpolished and rushed.
The '34+35' Remix is an extension of the global phenomenon that had social media gagging for more (which is what she gave). It's another great, all-female collaboration by Grande, who has picked two of the current, most-anticipated female rap stars to add a little something, extra to an already brilliant song. Doja and Megan each provide their individual flair that oozes unapologetic sex appeal, matching Ari's confidence and prowess. The music video is also gorgeous and a fab addition to the singer's fun videography.
'Worst behaviour', again, isn't long enough. The keyboard melody against belting, background vocals at the start is a surprise and, Grande's layered vocals against the bass in the pre-chorus works nicely. Ariana shows her musical ability, progressing cleverly into the second verse by switching from the keyboard to a catchy, R&B beat. She even manages to chuck in a few classic belts that beloved Ari fans will love to hear but, 'worst behaviour' doesn't add anything new.
'Main thing' is the best of the bunch. In a YouTube live stream, Grande noted how, if the decision came to it, she would replace 'My hair' with 'Main thing', and this seems like the right decision. The different layers and vocals work well together, and the lyrics are cute too. It feels "authentically-Ari" and fits more with Positions' sound than my hair does.
Usually, Ariana is one to match her high expectations, but I can't help feeling that these tracks fall a bit flat. Excluding the 34+35 remix, the new songs don't add much to an album that has fallen prey to "Spotify Syndrome": swift, simple tunes that don't match the excellence of Thank U, Next or Dangerous Woman.
Though you can understand why Grande has chosen to give fans a little something new, however, it doesn't feel new; it feels sadly mundane. Every artist hits a bad patch and has one record that sticks out like a sore thumb. Positions seem like that record.