Ariana Grande wears a few different hats in ‘Dangerous Woman’ and luckily none are latex bunny ears.
I had a few reservations approaching Ariana Grande’s ‘Dangerous Woman’ considering that I was a bigger fan of “Focus” and the aesthetic she was previewing with that song over “Dangerous Woman.” And maybe she was right about changing the direction of the album… If its opening track “Moonlight” (former title and direction of this album) offers any glimpse about it. The song is an utter bore. It is cute, but I feel like I’ve heard her do these dreamy fifties doo-wop songs too many times along with that damn ponytail of hers.
She follows “Moonlight” with “Dangerous Woman” and we’ve all heard it and moved on from it. So after that is “Be Alright” which is actually a really delightful song that’s also been available for a while. “Into You” is the first track that really captured my attention for the album. It begins with a budding beat as she intercepts with an assuring whisper, “I’m so into you // I can barely breathe.” Claps and other elements are softly introduced with precise timing until she reaches the song’s ultra-catchy and dance-provoking chorus. The song is one of the standouts from the album.
Ariana Grande makes a questionable creative decision to bring an island sound to her collaboration with Nicki Minaj “Side To Side.” It’s not a very interesting or great song. And Nicki’s participation feels more like a cheap stand-in for Rihanna, who could have really validated this track. Another collaboration follows with “Let Me Love You.” Lil Wayne is on the track which actually sums up the delinquency of this track; It sounds horribly dated (bad side of 2008-ish).
“Greedy” would be better placed after “Focus” than here behind the uncomfortably stale Lil Wayne collaboration. It’s still a fun track though. I was really surprised when I finally made it to her unexpected collaboration with Macy Gray. “Leave Me Lonely” is the single-best ballad of the album. And the song perfectly executes a smokey jazz club singer vibe for which Ariana always shoots for but rarely hits. Macy Gray painfully coos, “Dangerous love // your no good for me” and I was immediately impressed.
The next few tracks (Everyday, Sometimes, I Don’t Care and Bad Decisions) kind of flatline. And just as I was thinking of quitting and giving myself a break from the album — a bright shining moment happens….. “Touch It” is possibly the best song Ariana Grande’s ever recorded. It is almost a refined, and better, second-take of “Dangerous Woman” and sees Ariana’s lyrics and vocals in a more off-kilter, uncontrolled and powerful way. All of these elements are what I felt DW was missing. For the first time her vocals had some grit and pain to give the conviction her voice has always lacked. The entire production is a bouncing but perfectly balanced explosion of R&B, electro-synth and dynamic/unpredictable melodies. The song bests the entire albums offerings. I will be playing it till the end of time.
‘Dangerous Woman’ is not an entirely solid or cohesive project but there are a handful of songs that would make the dive into it worth the commitment to its lengthy 55-minute listen.
Buy Ariana Grande’s ‘Dangerous Woman’ album now on iTunes and in stores! You can also stream it now (below) on Spotify!