There’s no denying the fact Ariana Grande is one of the best vocalists to come out in pop music recently. We knew that one single into her singing career and it’s become increasingly clear over the last year following the release of her debut album Yours Truly last August.
On My Everything, Grande’s teams up with the likes of Zedd, Ryan Tedder and Max Martin (versus Babyface on Yours Truly), all of whom pretty much guarantee pop hits such as the album’s lead singles “Problem” and “Break Free.” There are still quite a few hip-hop collaborations and the R&B vibe isn’t completely lost, but it’s no longer the element that holds everything together. Perhaps that’s why My Everything doesn’t feel as cohesive as Yours Truly.
Aided by the success of these singles and “Bang Bang,” a powerhouse collaboration with Grande, Jessie J and Nicki Minaj, initially intended for J’s album, but also featured on the deluxe edition of My Everything it is clear that with the right promo this album could achieve chart success. But, eventually, most of the songs on this project will be forgotten.
With Yours Truly, Grande stood out as the pop singer with the Mariah Carey-esque high notes, powerful belts, melodic melismas and the 90s R&B-inspired songs. In this regard My Everything is a less ambitious effort. Grande has already proven her talent as a singer is legit. She’s not showing of this time around. And, while she’s never been known for lyrical depth, this album is definitely more concerned with the overall feel of the music versus the meaning (see “Break Free”). Gone are moments like the powerful Nathan Styles-assisted ballad “Almost Is Never Enough,” an aching duet laced with soulful vocal runs. In its place is a simplistic solo piano ballad written by another boy band standout (One Direction’s Harry Styles)
While both albums feature different sounds, they are similar in one major way: They both feature a young powerhouse singer trying on various sounds in search of a signature style to call her own. She’s churned out quite a few hits along the way (three are currently in the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100), but My Everything suggests she won’t be committing to a particular sound any time in the near future.
Intro – The intro to the album is full of harmonies, vocal runs and layerd vocals that showcases the singer’s beautiful voice over a fragile production.
Problem (ft. Iggy Azalea) – This sax-drenched lead single isn’t a completely accurate portrait of My Everything as a whole, but as a standalone single it’s as infectious as a pop single can be.
One Last Time – a shimmering midtempo cut finds Grande asking her lover to forgive her for her past mistakes and dump his new lady so they can give their relationship a second try. It’s solid for the first full-length cut on the album and it sets the tone what’s to come both sonically and lyrically.
Why Try – “I’m loving the pain I never want to live without it,” Grande sings on mediocre album cut “Why Try.” While the “na na na” refrain is catchy, the song, courtesy of Ryan Tedder, is your typical run-of-the-mill pop song, save for Grande’s unusually large vocals soaring over the sweeping synths and marching band drums.
Break Free – The album’s second single is an explosive EDM track. The Zedd collaboration features soaring synths and oddly empowering nonsensical lyrics (“I only want to die alive, never by the hands of a broken heart”). The aesthetics are clearly all that matter here.
Best Mistake (ft. Big Sean) – Big Grande is three for three. Yours Truly’s “Right There” was a solid single, as was My Everything’s “Problem, on which Big Sean delivers the chorus, although he isn’t listed as a feature. “Best Mistake” is a moodier effort, but it’s just as good. Grande and her rumored boyfriend trade verses about a doomed romance (“there’s no pot of gold in the rainbows we chase, but we hold on”) on the album standout. And if you’re still freaked out about the budding romance, don’t worry. The duo thinks their relationship is a bit strange, too (“Ain’t no number twos, we both ones of ones and we the oddest, couple”).
Be My Baby (ft. Cashmere Cat) – Sonically, “Be My Baby” is the closest thing to the Yours Truly sound, which means it’s pretty catchy, although it offers nothing new. The track also features one of the album’s best melodies.
Break Your Heart Right Back (ft. Childish Gambino) – “Yes I’m a G from the A and they ask why (Y),” Childish Gambino raps after a very shady Diana Ross “I’m Coming Out” sample is used to tell a story in which Grande’s boo leaves her for another man. Childish? Absolutely. But with just four words (“My baby loves me”) Grande belts out a hook that’s strong enough to make you forget about all of the shade.
Love Me Harder (ft. The Weeknd) – The most unlikely collaboration is actually one of the album’s best songs. This sexy cut finds Grande and The Weeknd trading off suggestive verses (“Can you feel the pressure between your hips? I’ll make it feel like the first time”) over pulsating synths.
Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart – The album’s most tender moment comes by way of a simple piano ballad penned by One Direction heartthrob Harry Styles. “I know I’m not your only, but I’m at least I’m one. I had a little love, it’s better than none,” Grande laments and it’s absolutely stunning.
Hands on Me (ft. A$AP Ferg) – “Skirts off keep the high heels on. Might be a little thing but I like that long, yeah” Grande teases. If you’ve ever seen the singer, who is known for her “good girl image,” try to be sexy on stage, then you should know how awkward this song is.
My Everything – “He wasn’t my everything until we were nothing,” Grande sings on the piano ballad and title track. The standard pop cut finds Grande using restraint when it comes to her voice, delivering a regretful tail through airy vocals.