Ariana Grande: My Everything

ariana grandeAriana Grande
My Everything

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For the sake of full disclosure, I should explain that I have been a gigantic fan of Ariana Grande’s for many years. I was first aware of her when she was in the Broadway production of Jason Robert Brown’s 13, got more familiar with her on the Nickelodeon show Victorious, and really fell in love with her endearing YouTube videos. So it’s been bittersweet to watch her get so popular and ubiquitous. Mostly sweet, of course, but there’s also the bitterness of having to let her go. She’s no longer just my artist. I have to share her with everyone else. But I’m mature enough to let that go.

What I do take a little issue with is the lack of personality on her sophomore album, My Everything. Her debut was so impressive because it defiantly stood against what is so often released by tween celebrities crossing over into music. Eschewing cookie-cutter bubble gum pop, Yours Truly gave us a complex mix of ‘60s girl-group pop and ‘90s throwback R&B, all carried by Grande’s impressive vocals. The vocals aren’t gone from My Everything, but much of the character is. The doo-wop is gone in favor of straightforward radio pop fare. Very little of it feels like Ariana Grande.

But for the most part, it is a very solid pop album from a songwriting and production standpoint. Though I may have problems with its anonymity, the tracks are great, with a few notable exceptions like the Ryan Tedder pop-by-numbers “Why Try” (really, why?) and the Darkchild club pop “Hands On Me (feat. ASAP Ferg).” In addition to the two successful pre-release singles, “Problem” and “Break Free,” tracks like “Be My Baby”—which interpolates not the Ronettes classic but Lil Kim’s “Crush On You,” which Ariana sampled on her first album for “Right There (feat. Big Sean)”—and a duet with The Weeknd “Love Me Harder,” Grande delivers top-tier pop songs that could continue her radio domination. But it’s hard not to feel cynical about the young singer getting swept up into the pop machine and losing a bit of herself. It’s ironic that her first album, titled Yours Truly, had more to show of herself than it’s follow up, My Everything.

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About Scott Interrante

Scott Interrante currently studies Musicology at CUNY Hunter College where he focuses on issues of gender in pop music. He also writes for PopMatters, The Absolute, and Dear Song In My Head. Scott is an avid Taylor Swift fan and is currently re-watching all of Battlestar Galactica on Netflix.
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