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The Student Newspaper of MAST Academy, since 1991.
The Student News Site of MAST Academy

The Beacon

The Beacon

Ariana Grande explores love, manifestation, and healing in Positions

By Alexandra Fadel
Staff Writer

On her 6th studio album, Positions, Ariana Grande guides listeners through the concepts of love and sexuality, getting more explicit than she has ever been in the past, while also cementing her transition into womanhood and maturity. Positions serves as a reflection of her personal journey towards healing from past events and exploring new experiences. Grande does not shock listeners with a new sound, but rather builds on the ideas of previous albums, bringing the concepts all together for a more mature take on her past and current life. 

Ariana Grande showcases a new look for the cover of her 6th studio album, Positions. (Photo by Dave Meyers)

Track 1: Grande opens the album with a string-heavy confluence of harmonies, something she is not a stranger to. The song repeats its title shut up, likely directed at people who criticize her, clearly and simply stating her feelings on the negative aspects of media attention she gets. Shut Up, being the first track she wrote on the album, was written and produced by many of her longtime collaborators and friends Thomas “Tommy” Lee Brown, Tayla Parx, and Victoria Monet, who contributed with the songwriting of several later tracks and has collaborated with Grande in the past. .

Track 2: In  the bubbly 34+35, Grande mentions the lust of making love with her partner. In so clearly referencing a mature act, Grande strays away from the PG Nickelodeon persona she has been associated with throughout her career, and marks the defining stages of her maturity into womanhood. She playfully tells her partner what she wants to do with him, an idea that she later explores throughout the album. 

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Track 3: Grande teams up with Doja Cat, another female act currently dominating the music charts, to bring fans the upbeat motive. For this track, she collaborates with the well-known rap producer Murda Beatz, obvious in the influences of slowed-down 808s and flow changes into a song about a person’s true intentions coming into a relationship. 

Track 4: In just like magic, Grande explains her intentions of manifesting positivity in her life, mentioning her “good karma” and wanting to attract good in her life. She explains her thought process when writing the song in an interview with Zach Sang shortly after the album release, saying “I think [manifesting] is super real…Everything you do I think kind of contributes to the life you create yourself.” Ariana conveys this idea of reaffirming and planning what one wants to achieve by saying that she attracts what she wants “like magic.”

Track 5: Grande comes together with The Weeknd for their second collaboration, off the table. The track takes most of its influence from R&B, creating a chill listening experience to make the lyrics more impactful. Grande expresses her concern with finding love after losing who she called her soulmate. She opens the track with a question, asking “Will I ever love the same way again?” Grande searches for the answer throughout the song, getting a response from The Weeknd, who acts as Ariana’s current partner, saying “I’ll wait for you even though it always feels like I’ll be number two to someone you can’t hold anymore.”

Track 6: On six thirty, Grande talks to her new lover and the duality of a relationship, saying “You can only stay mad for a minute, so come here and give me some kisses,” reminiscent of the fun idea of fighting and making up with a partner she carried across make up, a track from her 2019 album thank u, next. Grande quickly transitions to a more serious aspect of the concept, reassuring her partner she understands if he doesn’t feel ready for the relationship, saying “I know this [is] kinda heavy…let me know if you ready”.

Track 7: In the melodic safety net, Grande brings in new collaborator Ty Dolla $ign to explore the idea of impulsively going into a relationship with “no safety net” or backup option. Although Grande has been vocal about her insecurities and uncertainty with new relationships and situations, this track  cements her newfound tranquility with not having a set plan when going into a new experience.

Track 8: In my hair, Grande leads her partner towards the idea of touching her hair, or traversing unfamiliar experiences together over a dreamy arrangement of synths. Grande is very well known for her signature high ponytail hairstyle, which she acknowledges, reassuring her partner he should not be scared and “that’s why it’s there.” The song may be alluding to Grande wanting her partner to feel comfortable interacting with her as a person who is of such a high status, as her new lover is not one familiar with the music and celebrity industry.

Track 9: After releasing a snippet of this song seven months ago and being begged to drop the full version of nasty, Grande does not disappoint on her ninth track. The track follows a liberating beat and dark background vocals, with Grande asking her partner to stop being afraid of getting involved with her and what she needs. With the two most prominent lines from the track “What you waitin’ for?” and “Tonight, I wanna get nasty” Grande concisely repeats the message she wants her partner to get from the song.

Track 10: On the glitchy-sounding west side, Grande demands more from her partner and love life. The track’s title and line “Meet me on the west side for me” might be a nod to her current partner, who has always lived on the west coast, while Ariana herself is from the east, being born in Florida. Grande speaks directly to her partner, something clearly characteristic of this album, and asks of him to show her his commitment in the relationship.

Track 11: Love language follows a broadway-like, bubbly track of Grande exploring the wonders of love and things she finds herself enjoying with her partner. She references her past relationships saying “I’m unlearning what ain’t right”, and expresses her satisfaction with the way she’s currently being treated. She also nods to her 2018 “breathin”, where she speaks of her anxiety, and how people tell her to take medication, bringing it full circle by describing her current partner as “the medication when [she’s] feeling anxious”. 

Track 12: Positions, the title track of the album, follows Grande as she expresses her commitment to adapting to the demands of a relationship. She references this duality, saying “Switchin’ them positions for you, cookin’ in the kitchen and I’m in the bedroom”. Grande also includes yet another nod to her satisfaction in her current love life, saying “You’re too good to be true”. The track debuted at the top of the Billboard Top 100 Chart, being her fifth US number-one single. It currently stands at number 2, alongside 34+35 at number 8, and the rest of Positions on the Top 100 as well.

Track 13: Once again, Grande explains her cautious but euphoric approach to a new relationship on obvious, saying “I’m praying we don’t [mess] this up”, and how she knew her partner was “the real thing” as soon as they met. Her hope for a successful relationship is clearly showcased on this track, where she reassures herself this time around she and her partner will last.

Track 14: Grande concludes her album with pov, the representation of a desire she has moving forward in her relationship. She explores her partner’s love for her, and how she wishes she shared it. Grande has been very open about her struggles with confidence and self-love, and on track 14 she brings the now-familiar theme of a new relationship into the conversation, saying “I wanna love me the way that you love me, for all of my pretty and all of my ugly too”. Grande acknowledges her current partner’s unconditional love for her and her flaws, and she explains how she wishes she could also see herself from his point of view.

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Ariana Grande explores love, manifestation, and healing in Positions