Ariana Grande’s album My Everything featuring the hits Problem and Break Free.
It’s a sign of my age when the biggest pop singer of the year has come and I’m barely aware of who she is.
I’ve always been in and on top of the biggest names in pop music and yet, Ariana Grande has come along and somehow made her way to the top without grabbing my attention. I’m only vaguely familiar with several singles from last year’s Yours Truly, but the real breakthrough came with this summer’s Problem featuring rapper de jour Iggy Azalea.
Problem is a promising introduction to an album that is poised to push Ariana into pop stardom. It’s catchy, has a killer horn-filled chorus partly provided by Big Sean (uncredited) with what could be a nod to the Ying Yang Twins – or maybe not – and a sweeping rap verse from Iggy, who unmistakably nods to Jay-Z.
From there, she follows it up with the second single Break Free, a club banger, production courtesy of Zedd. This one fails to stand out as much as Problem as it feels more like a been-there, done-that. It’s largely underwhelming.
As a pop sensation in the making, Ariana isn’t expected to break boundaries as much as generate solid pop music. After all, since her first album, she has essentially been dubbed the Mariah Carey of this generation. But unlike Mariah, Ariana hasn’t delivered anything close to Vision Of Love or Emotions (or Hero, Dreamlover, Fantasy, should I go on?)
And in hearing My Everything in its entirely, I’m left wondering whether the Mariah comparisons are justified. The closest Ariana comes to mimicking her in any way is when she recreates her more delicate vocals in Big Mistake. (Remember that when Mariah sang this way, it was almost always disappointing, i.e., her cover of Bringin’ On The Heartbreak prior to roaring back with We Belong Together a few years later).
When her vocals aren’t the only point of attention, she does deliver. It’s what makes Problem the album’s best track and upcoming third single Love Me Harder, featuring The Weeknd, another winner and essentially the next best song.
Other than that, My Everything relies too much on the wrong thing most of the time. The album is a mish-mash of pop songs that range from One Last Time being nice enough to Be My Baby being meh. The guest artists offer little to better the songs they’re on while Ariana’s voice just doesn’t have the depth to make it her main draw.
I wasn’t expecting to be blown away by My Everything but I wasn’t expecting to feel so underwhelmed by it either. Maybe it’s a further sign of my age but either way, if this album is the height of pop music for the year, bring on January.
2. Problem [featuring Iggy Azalea]
3. One Last Time
4. Why Try
5. Break Free [featuring Zedd]
6. Big Mistake [featuring Big Sean]
7. Be My Baby [featuring Cashmere Cat]
8. Break Your Heart Right Back [featuring Childish Gambino]
9. Love Me Harder [featuring The Weeknd]
10. Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart
11. Hands On Me [featuring A$AP Ferg]
12. My Everything