Ariana Grande crossed over into chart topping international superstar territory with her last album My Everything, and now that she’s shaken off the remnants of her Nickelodeon days, she’s back with her third studio album Dangerous Woman. After a long period of teasing her fans, she presents herself as a ‘dangerous’ young woman with desires and a sensual voice, which already became clear after listening to the first two singles, the title track and “Into You”.
Dangerous Woman takes everything that made Grande’s older music special and polishes it up a bit. Everyone is still obsessed with Yours Truly, but comparing it to Dangerous Woman makes one realize how much she’s grown as a vocalist and an artist.
Based on both singles, the album could’ve went two different ways. “Dangerous Woman” showed the growth of Ariana’s vocals with a big, bluesy chorus while “Into You” is a brilliant Max Martian production with a thudding club beat and lurking synths with an airy chorus. Grande and her team seem to try and give us the best of both, which works partially.
Grande opens the album with the classic ’50s ballad “Moonlight,” which was supposed to be the name of her album. She sounds fantastic vocally, but this track doesn’t fit in with the rest of the album as a whole, especially as most of the tracks have a sexual nature to them and this one seems cutesier. I would prefer this to be a bonus track.
“Side to Side,” a reggae-pop duet with Nicki Minaj has Grande “making deals with the devil” that she knows are “gonna get me in trouble.” There are guest spots from Lil Wayne in “Let Me Love You,” which is reminiscent of Brandy’s “Angel in Disguise,” and Future in “Everyday,” each of whom describes themselves as the guy perfectly suited for all Grande’s needs.
The best collaboration on this record however is the wonderful Macy Gray duet “Leave Me Lonely.” Gray is back as she channels a bit of Nina Simone on this track. Gray and Grande’s vocals work well together as they both exchange vocals together. I don’t think I’ve ever heard Grande so soulful before. She should definitely dive into that a bit more. After this piece of soulful pop though, tracks like ‘Bad Decisions’ sounds a bit out of place.
“Greedy” will become a hit sooner than later with it’s up-tempo disco pop sound that makes us all want to dance, plus the key change in the final chorus is everything. “Touch It” is a dark, pulsating pop number we definitely need a video for.
Throughout the record, Grande flirts a bit with soul, blues, R&B and a little hint of jazz, but at the same time the flow of the album is let down by a few tracks that don’t match the overall tone of the album. It isn’t as focused as it could be, but its still a great album nonetheless as it combines the strong features of her sophomore album. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of pure pop, especially when it’s as good as “Into You,” or “Touch It,” two songs that fit her persona and voice, but this album could do away with the impersonal vibe of “Bad Decisions,” “Sometimes,” or “Be Alright.”
Favorites: Dangerous Woman, Leave Me Lonely, Everyday, Into You, Touch It