Former Disney star, Ariana Grande distances herself even further from adolescence in her third album release, Dangerous Woman. With powerful vocals, a hodgepodge of features ranging from Future to Macy Gray, the petite artist rubs off the sheen of purity to reveal a much more relatable, raunchier side.
If the album cover is any indicator of who Ariana has transformed into, we can conclude it’s a huge step away from her vanilla beginnings. Dolled up in latex and lace, seductively peeking out of a black bunny mask, she exudes a confidence much more mature than her 22 years. Since her first single release of “Be Alright” followed by “Dangerous Woman”, Grande has been teasing her fans with boastful lyrics full of fiery seduction; a complete 360 from her prior pop tunes that granted a warranted place on the Billboard charts. Finally touching ground with both feet, she has arrived at the doorstep of womanhood.
Beginning the journey with Moonlight, the song’s 50’s inspired tones guide the listener into a state of temporary innocence. Careful not to get too caught up in the baby sweet croons of untainted love. This is just a gentle reminder that Ariana is a woman who may feel all-encompassing affection in the same instant she craves to be ravished to pieces.
This sweet gloss is soon discarded in the tracks that follow, as a clearer message emerges in Into You. Shutting up her partner, she commands, “A little less conversation and a little more touch my body.” If the horns could blast any louder on Greedy they’d blow you right to your fuck buddy’s front door. Acknowledging the insatiable desire for pleasure, Ariana screams of her eventual release. “Baby you got lucky cuz’ you rocking with the best. I ain’t talking money I’m just physically obsessed” she points out. Continuing her romps with boasts of multiple orgasms on Everyday and the refusal to regret her choices on Bad Decisions, vividly straightforward lyrics assert Ariana’s new-found power within herself.
Of course, with sexual realization comes a host of conflicting emotions, a complexity that is explored in Sometimes. She begs to question: “Is it love? Is it lust? Is it fear?” Whether she’s running into the arms of a rebound on Let Me Love You or constantly racked by memories in Thinking About You, the flux of perpendicular thoughts captures an uncertainty that comes with experiencing another’s company for the first time.
Eventually the fire of lust, passion and love disintegrates into dust. With the help of Macy Gray’s smoky vocals on Leave Me Lonely, Grande kicks her lover out of her heart, embracing loneliness as the replacement. Still young, still unsure, she oscillates between two extreme mental states on the two-sided track, Knew Better/Forever Boy. Starting with “Say you could turn me on. Boy, but that’s about it” and concluding with “But you showed me what it means to be happy ever after” this contrary behavior is one that all young women go through when trying to find what is best for them– physically, emotionally and mentally.
Solidly rooted in the overlooked desire of women who crave sex, lust and adventure without judgment, this pop compilation does more than provide tunes for a long road trip. Dangerous Woman elaborates on the enigmatic power of a woman on the path to discovery, finding out exactly what she wants. Simultaneously, it covers the many stages of a relationship: from the initial magnetic attraction to the eventual simmering down of a red-hot rendezvous and finally ending with a constant replay of memories of a love lost. Encapsulating this vast array of feeling in 16 tracks, Grande has strengthened her presence in mainstream music, branding herself as a force to be reckoned with.