Thursday, March 13, 2014

Yours Truly | Ariana Grande


★★★☆☆

Ariana Grande found her way to stardom as a star in Nickelodeon series like Victorious and Sam & Cat, but has finally branched out to find her true talent: Singing. Grande released her debut last year with some pretty great critical reviews and I finally picked it up to see what kind of punch she is truly packing with Yours Truly.

Yours Truly opens on a strong note: "Honeymoon Avenue." The song acts as a metaphor, comparing love to a crowded highway while brand new couples have it is on 'Honeymoon Avenue': "I feel like my heart is stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic, / I'm under pressure / 'Cause I can't have you the way that I want / Let's just go back to the way it was / When we were on Honeymoon Avenue."

If anybody wants to argue that Grande is the "new Mariah Carey," the song "Baby I" is the song to use in arguments. The song goes into full R&B mode (considering it was originally written for Beyoncé but later rejected), and features Grande's voice at its strongest. "Daydreaming" is also another great song to listen for Grande's vocal strength, although parts of the song uses vocal editing techniques for effect.

The most popular track from the album is arguably "The Way," which has well over 100,000,000 views on YouTube and was played on a regular basis on Sirius XM Radio when I was driving this summer. "The Way" features rapper Mac Miller, who almost ruins the song. However, Grande's part is good enough to keep the song afloat; it's an average song.

I loved Grande's live performance of "Tattooed Heart" on the American Music Awards, and the studio version is just as nice. Her voice is outstanding in the song, but the lyrics are ultra simplistic and are about loving someone unconditionally. There is a lot of "tattooed heart" repetitions. The song "Piano" is also kind of simplistic in the lyrics... it's literally about getting a new piano and writing a love song on it: "I could write a song by my new piano / I could sing about how love is a losing battle / It's not hard." However, it's like a cutesy Carly Rae Jepsen song: it's so catchy that I couldn't help but like it.

My favorite cut from the album is "Popular Song," which is a collaboration between Grande and Mika. The two have voices that blend really well and has lyrics that could make fun of pop music culture; everybody is like an unknown indie artist until that one song hits radio hard, and then suddenly everyone loves the said artist and they can truly be considered popular. This can be seen as the duo sings "You were singing, all the songs I don't know / Now you're in the front row / 'Cause my song is popular."

Grande has some promising material here. Many times, the albums that I rate with three stars either have a ton of really average songs, or a handful of amazing songs tossed in with some duds. With Yours Truly, it is the former: A lot of these songs are nice little gems to listen to, but there are only a few songs that hit me to the point that I could listen to them on repeat for days. However, her voice throughout the entire album is outstanding and I now she's going to go a lot farther in the music industry with that voice.

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