Ariana Grande ascends above sorrowful aftermath with Sweetener

After slowly stepping out of the spotlight to mend a broken heart from the devastating Manchester bombing, Ariana Grande has come back to shed a new light upon listeners with a special sound on her latest album titled Sweetener.

The album was released on Aug. 17, two years and two months after her last full-length album, Dangerous Woman, making this the longest gap between the releases of any of her albums. During this extensive time period, Grande was recovering from the attack by surrounding herself with loved ones to help her heal and by focusing primarily on her mental health.

Despite the fact that she was left broken by the attack, Grande was still able to write and record 15 different tracks for Sweetener. She said that the title refers to “sweetening the situation.”

Grande’s album is her response to the tragedy. It begins with “raindrops,” an incredibly short but powerful acapella cover of  “An Angel Cried” by The Four Seasons, consisting of nothing but Grande’s isolated vocals to introduce listeners to a new era of intimacy.

All throughout the album, Grande allows herself to be vulnerable on every track by singing about meaningful personal experiences, whether they were good or bad. She has definitely left her comfort zone by addressing her anxiety in “breathin” and by opening up about a toxic relationship in tracks like “everytime” and “better off.” One particular song on the album is even about falling madly in love with someone who does not seem to notice. This song was originally called “Goodnight and Go” by Grande’s idol Imogen Heap, a British singer-songwriter, but Grande reworked it into her own version called “goodnight n go.”

Nonetheless, she describes what it is like to be happily in love on more mellow tracks like “blazed” and “borderline” and on “R.E.M.,” where she sings about “dreaming someone into your life.” However, she radiates bouncy vibes on the repetitive but insanely catchy “the light is coming.” On the title track “sweetener,” which happened to be the first song she wrote for the album, she only continues to lighten the mood by encouraging her fans to make the best out of every situation.

Though Grande began recording Sweetener in 2016 while she was still dating the late rapper, Mac Miller, she had been working on the album up until 2018, which explains why some songs are about her new beau, Pete Davidson. She expresses her immense love for him in “pete davidson,” where the word “happy” is repeated 22 times in just over a minute.

Ultimately, she uplifts listeners with “no tears left to cry,” which is an anthem of hope, and “God is a woman,” which is about female empowerment, so it makes sense for her to humbly celebrate her triumphs with “successful.”

To draw the album to a bittersweet close, she concludes Sweetener with “get well soon,” which ends with 40 seconds of silence, extending the track length to 5:22 as a tribute to the 22 victims of the attack on May 22.

Needless to say, Sweetener is by far her most sincere piece of work in view of the fact that it is about having hope even in the darkest of times, as well as what it is like to stumble upon a newfound love in the midst of it all.

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