ARTIST OF THE MONTH: ARIANA GRANDE
We start at the beginning of Nickelodeon turned pop star Ariana Grande's debut album called "Your Truly," which was released on September 3, 2013. She is a vocal prowess who’s earned enviable comparisons to Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston. Further setting Grande apart is an often her nostalgic, pop-meets-R&B vibe. "Yours Truly" features producers Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Antonio Dixon, Mika, and Greg Wells.
“The Way,” featuring Mac Miller, was Grande’s first single – the song samples Big Pun, and Joe’s “Still Not a Player” and Grande’s commanding vocals steal the spotlight from the percussive 1990s groove. Sadly, On September 7, 2018, Mac Miller died from an accidental drug overdose of cocaine, fentanyl, and alcohol at his home, aged 26. The problem is that "The Way" also isn't very memorable. It fades into the background, and occasionally the listener is drawn back in by Miller's rhymes. The follow-up single
"Baby I" is an infectiously bouncy jam of love-struck jitters, while the collaboration with Big Sean on "Right There" is a smooth throwback R&B number with its stabbing synths and head-nodding beats.
The album's tone and pace rarely change, but the songs feel accomplished, polished, and vibrant. An example of this is on “Piano,” its ear-grabbing hooks and rosy cadence. It may not be as memorable, but it’s still refreshing to hear a young artist rely on her voice for success. While The Wanted's Nathan Sykes is a surprisingly fitting duet partner on the heart-fluttering ballad 'Almost Is "Never Enough," she sounds more gentle and controlled than artists 10 years her senior.
"Yours truly" is a polished album, and I understand why it was handled the way it was. But everything about it feels too formulaic, from the songwriting to the production and Ariana's vocals. I certainly wouldn’t call this album the second coming of Mariah’s debut "Music Box," but it’s a strong foundation for an artist who’s brimming with talent.