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ARIANA GRANDE: Yours Truly

If you’re yet to hear the name Ariana Grande, this album will emblazon not only her name, but also her angelic voice into your minds. The young starlet, only 20, already has a large fan following in the U.S. as a result of her role as Kat Valentine on the Nickelodeon sitcom Vic- torious. But don’t let her bubblegum pop image or association with Nickelodeon fool you – Grande is a serious artist. One need only listen to her debut album Yours Truly to discover just how talented she really is.

Bursting with a colourful variation of both classic and contempo- rary R&B beats, Yours Truly elevates the traditional R&B genre into a wonderfully modern interpretation. Her album is driven by the indul- gence of nostalgia, though her voice ensures that her songs never feel out of date or insincere.

Powered by a commanding, Broadway-honed voice, Grande is able to seamlessly weave between soft breathy vocals and a striking tonality that soars with power and believability. Grande’s bravura, yet gentle vocals have been consistently compared to one of the greatest vocalists of all time – Mariah Carey.

Her debut offering only solidifies this association, as she infuses deftly tender vocals into urban pop songs that call to mind an ear- ly-day Mimi – not surprising given that songwriter Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, who co-wrote several Carey songs, serves as both writer and producer on the album.

Opening track ‘Honeymoon Avenue’ introduces the listener to a chorus of classic doo-wop styling that sets a ruminative R&B flavour for the remainder of the album. The production on this song is reminiscent of Justin Timberlake’s ‘Pusher Love Girl’ (off The 20/20 Experience), positioning Grande as a female equivalent to Timberlake’s similarly smooth R&B style.

The singles off the album highlight Grande’s ability to fuse pop and R&B effortlessly, not unlike how Mariah Carey has throughout her career. Lead single ‘The Way’ featuring Mac Miller has already proven hit-worthy, becoming Grande’s first top ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100. Here, she utilises a deep resonant tone with hints of a pitch perfect whistle register that pierce through playful piano riffs and old school R&B beats.

Standout tracks on the album include the up-tempo R&B
song ‘You’ll Never Know,’ which blends throwback 90s beats with a light-hearted delivery of vocals. ‘Piano’, meanwhile, is a pure pop song that sparkles with a clapping beat and a sparse undertone of piano loops. The song is easily classifiable as a summer beach jam with lyrics like “but I rather make a song they can play on the radio that makes you wanna grab your lover’s hands.”

Piano ballad ‘Almost is Never Enough’ featuring The Wanted’s Na- than Sykes is the most poignant moment on the album, offering the only glimpse into the emotional vulnerability of Grande. The track is reminis- cent of Mariah Carey’s duet with Boys II Men, ‘One Sweet Day’, which retains the record of longest weeks at #1 on the US Billboard charts.

Ariana Grande seems perfectly at home amongst such illustrious company. And whilst her powerful voice and fondness for old school R&B will always draw comparisons with the awe-inspiring Mariah Carey, Grande should not be overlooked as a distinct artist in her own right.

4 stars.

 

 

About Fabrice Wilmann

Fabrice Wilmann checking in. Third year Arts student majoring in French and Literature, with aspirations of one day becoming a book editor. My main literary interests at the moment include historical novels (Hilary Mantel) and autobiographies (ranging from Sarah Palin to Rafael Nadal). I find that television is the most cathartic tool in the world, and my ever-expanding collection includes Dark Angel, Buffy, Friends, Orphan Black, and classic Simpsons (to name a few). I detest the state of Australian politics, but find solace and entertainment in our American counterparts (though this may be attributed to TV series Veep, Scandal, and Political Animals).

Fabrice Wilmann

The author Fabrice Wilmann

Fabrice Wilmann checking in. Third year Arts student majoring in French and Literature, with aspirations of one day becoming a book editor. My main literary interests at the moment include historical novels (Hilary Mantel) and autobiographies (ranging from Sarah Palin to Rafael Nadal). I find that television is the most cathartic tool in the world, and my ever-expanding collection includes Dark Angel, Buffy, Friends, Orphan Black, and classic Simpsons (to name a few). I detest the state of Australian politics, but find solace and entertainment in our American counterparts (though this may be attributed to TV series Veep, Scandal, and Political Animals).

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