Ariana Grande – Dangerous Woman (***)
It’s hard to know what to make of R&B-pop powerhouse Ariana Grande. On the one hand there’s some flawless anti-misogynistic rhetoric, the most technically skilled voice since Mariah and a Kylie-esque cutesy charm. On the other there are those sodding Mickey Mouse ears and a proclivity for licking shop display doughnuts, then claiming it was some sort of anti-obesity protest
when caught on CCTV.
So on her third album, has the 22-year-old former Nickelodeon star come up trumps? Well, reliably backed up by co-producer Max Martin, title track Dangerous Woman has a waltzing, slinky vibe like The Weeknd’s Earned It, while Be Alright, with its pretty xylophone notes, finger snaps and chopped and screwed bassy vocal, is bang on the current deep house-lite money. (Though listening to UK producer Mura Masa’s Firefly, it’s easy to see why many think he should be at least acknowledged as Grande’s inspiration, if not a source.) Into You is a slow-burning club banger, while Greedy is a slice of empowered disco funk complete with lashings of sax and a cheesy key change.
There are some well-chosen collaborations too: Nicki Minaj helps out on the dancehall-flavoured Side To Side, while Macy Gray sounds incredible on the passionate, jazzy Leave Me Lonely. There are some dull ballads towards the record’s end and the Lil Wayne track Let Me Love You is a duff moment. We still never get any real sense of a truly personal, artistic vision but, hey, that’s modern collaborative pop. This is nevertheless a record that proves Grande more than fit to stand with the Rihannas, Taylors and Katys of this world.