When Ariana Grande revealed she would be dropping an album in 2020 the internet went into a frenzy. After all, her 2018 album “Sweetener” went platinum followed by “Thank U, Next”, released six months later, going double platinum. The albums felt like a deep dive into Grande’s psyche and were well received. The lack of content in 2020 also attributed to the excitement for “Positions”.
But now that the album is out it feels a bit underwhelming.
“Positions”, the title track and lead single off the album, isn’t explorative lyrically or instrumentally but my hopes remained high due to Grande’s signature angelic vocals. The track is about loving and wanting to have sex with her partner. Perfectly normal adult content. However, hearing someone sing about it for an entire album gets old. Quickly.
The opening track, “shut up”, is one of the few tracks off the album that isn’t about sex. It seems more like a direct hit at the thousands of gossip blogs that have focused on every move Grande has made in the past few years. “How you be using your time? (How?)/ You be so worried ‘bout mine (Mine)/ Can’t even get yourself none/ You know you sound so dumb (So dumb, so dumb)”. The track centers on that playful confidence that Grande has honed in recent years that makes her a pop star amongst pop stars. It’s a good track with a simple message: you can’t get to her.
Next comes Grande’s sexual confidence. On “34+35” (adds up to 69, she even says it) Grande sings, “If I put it quite plainly/ Just give me them babies/ So what you doing tonight?/ Better say, “Doin’ you right” (Yeah)”.
After another sex track and a track about manifesting (a term people like to use now to describe getting what they want) comes “off the table”, a track featuring The Weeknd (a.k.a. Abel Tesfaye). The song describes Grande’s fears of falling in love again, and whether or not the time is right. That uncertainty let’s us know that she is still dealing with the trauma of past relationships. “Do I sit this one out and wait for the next life? (Next life)/
Am I too cold? Am I not nice?/ Might not be quite yet healed or ready”. Tesfaye’s soft vocals perfectly melt into Grande’s as he reassures her that she deserves and is capable of love, “If you let me in, I’m ready to give you what I couldn’t before/ ’Cause I got you, girl, let me help you through it”.
After this comes more relationship and sex content. With lyrics like “I just wanna make time for ya (Yeah)/ Swear it’s just right for ya/ Like this pussy designed for ya (Yeah)”, Grande lets everyone know how she has been spending her quarantine.
The last track, “pov”, is seemingly more introspective as Grande further reveals some of her insecurities about being loved, but trusting her partner enough to make the relationship work. It’s a sweet note to end on, but doesn’t feel particularly new or exciting. Grande excels at pop love songs because that’s what she repeatedly writes.
Overall, “Positions” sounds like Grande set out to be more sexually explicit. While her previous albums explored sexual themes, this album is more aggressive in its delivery and tells listeners “it’s AG in your face” (an actual lyric from the album).
As a 20 something also going through quarantine, I don’t mind a few sexy tracks. However, an entire album’s worth reminds me of that friend that won’t shut up about their sex life. It just gets old. And there is definitely other topics worth discussing in 2020.
“Positions” is now available for streaming.