Photo Credit to Ariana Grande Article by Megan Vineberg with contributions by Emma Saletta and Rikki Red
In the title track, “Positions,” pop songstress Ariana Grande goes into it on a love that makes her want to switch up her demeanor, seemingly to impress and inspire trust from someone. The music video first features Grande presumably in a position of legislative power, then all done up in an old-school apron “cooking in the kitchen,” presenting seductively, and by the end, walking a handful of dogs in the snow, all for her partner. Verses 1 and 2 detail how this relationship has changed her entire perspective on love, from “it’s too good to be true,” to making her want to do or try “shit I usually don’t do.” Grande describes the relationship as being ’infinite’, ‘heaven-sent,’ and ‘perfect.’ It’s been said that her relationship with real estate agent boyfriend, Dalton Gomez, who appears in the Positions music video, sparked inspiration on this record but we’ll never know.
Boy I’m tryin’ to meet your mama on Sunday / Then make a lot of love on a Monday / Never need no one else babe cause I’ll switchin’ them positions for you / Nothing I wouldn’t do
From these lines alone, it’s clear to see the passion this song exudes. It’s not overtly emotional, just realistic in terms of how we sometimes try different things to meet someone’s needs or have ours met. Essentially Grande just wants to be liked and loved, and she wants that in return from her partner. She expects loyalty and wants to prove how devoted she is with this track. Whether or not it’s involving her personal life is beyond me but it is quite a catchy song and it’s relatable. I wouldn’t say it’s a song I’d immediately reach for when I listen through on Apple Music or Spotify, but it’s a solid track nonetheless. I was excited to see what this record would bring us as Grande reinvents herself with every album.
NEVER BEFORE SEEN: BEHIND THE SCENES FOOTAGE
Grande released “Positions,” on October 30, just in time for Halloween. Grande has revealed to Elle Magazine that this project is, by far, her favorite for many reasons. She went on to say, “I don’t have a top three or anything!”
Although the production on this record wasn’t my favorite, I did like the spiritual aspects brought into songs like, “Shut Up”, where Grande claps back at haters, and “Off The Table”, which is said to reference Grande’s otherworldly connection to the late Mac Miller (mentioned here in our previous article on mental health). She wonders if it’s right to move on now that enough time has passed, and how she can. The Weeknd brings up a very much welcome, fresh perspective of the other person, who understands and is willing to wait for Grande. “Six Thirty,” is another one very similar to this, wondering if that person is gonna stick around when things get real. “Just Like Magic” is one I can personally relate to. It goes into manifestation, meditation, and scripting from the very first verse:
Just wanna have a good day / thinking in my head / then it happens how it should /
She continues with:
Twelve o'clock I got a team meeting then a meditation at like one thirty / Take my pen and write some love letters to Heaven / Just like magic / Losing friends left and right / but I just send them love and light / Slim ego for a thick wallet
“Love and light,” to anyone spiritual is compassion and forgiveness towards yourself and others. It’s not toxic positivity, where you only feel positive emotions but rather you take the time to work through your emotions so you can heal. Even if you were wronged, you send that person healing as well. You take the time to do self-care, not worrying about anything that doesn’t serve you—whether people or things and attracting the best things in life for you. “Love and light” can also be used as a greeting for some, in the way many people would use the word “goodbye,” or the phrase “talk to you later.” When you have an ego, you’re on defense. The ego is to protect us but sometimes it can make us do crazy things like asking for a password to our partner’s phone, mentioned later in the song. I did like the track, “Safety Net” which sees Grande a little more ready to jump into things, but still in fight or flight, with Ty Dolla $ign bringing in the other perspective of the other person trying to make her feel safe and secure. Conceptually, “POV” really wraps it up for me with these lines:
I wanna love me / the way that you love me / for all of my pretty and my ugly too / I’d love to see me from your point of view
Whenever Ariana Grande announces a new album, news spreads like wildfire. With “Positions”, it was no different. After rushing to number 1 on the iTunes chart, this album will likely be a chart topper on the Billboard 200 and help her reach number one on the Billboard Top Artist chart. Before this album was released, it may come as no surprise for people to have high expectations of its creativity, especially coming from the singer whose previous albums reached number one on various charts, with Sweetner winning a Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Album in 2019. Although this album was released during difficult times, it still showed Grande’s current uniqueness within her music, not to mention collaborations with The Weeknd, Ty Dolla $ign, and Doja Cat.
The moment I heard the lyrics to “positions”, I knew this album would include songs with stronger lyrics than most of her past work. Even though that song was not the most viral song of her career, it certainly had lyrics that are hidden in the back of females minds. However, when looking over the tracklist, I personally became excited to listen to “off the table” due to this song featuring the return collaboration with The Weeknd. “But I just wanna know, is love completely off the table?” is the question I asked myself after a painful breakup with my first love. It’s a question I asked myself a lot after a fight or death of a loved one. By the end of the song, it shows that love is not off the table, which at the end of the day, is something we all must remember after a hard day, month, or year. This track from Positions was what hit me the most on a personal level. However, other songs off of this album contained lyrics that came pretty close to hitting me in the way that “off the table” did. These lyrics include, but are not limited to:
“I’ll bring the light right back, I’ll bring the life right back” (“west side”)
“Cause I need you to be wise, tell me everything that’s on your mind…” (“motive”)
“Is it real this time or is it in my head? Got me tripping, falling, with no safety net” (“safety net”)
“How you touch my soul from the outside, permeate my ego and my pride” (“pov”)
As someone who became a massive fan of Ariana Grande after the attack in Manchester, whenever she's announced new music since, I eagerly look forward to the release. Like Megan said prior, Ariana always tends to reinvent herself in every new drop, which is something I can relate very well to, and so it's never clear what to expect.
I had a good feeling about "Positions" as a whole, and as it turns out, I wasn't wrong. Though I also wasn't the biggest fan of the production on the album, almost every song stood out to me in a different way and I don't think I'd be capable of choosing a top three either. In a world that tries to keep women quiet and place a stigma around us experiencing pleasure of any kind, it's refreshing to hear Grande speak so freely about the things that bring her pleasure, no matter how taboo some might think it to be.
One of my favourite things about following an artist's journey is watching them come into their own and become comfortable with who they are as a whole. Every album, Ariana seems to be doing this more and more. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next, but in the meantime, you can catch me with this tracklist on loop.
To follow Emma's direction, I'll end this off with a few of the most notable lyrics (in my opinion:)
“Redesign your brain, we gon' make some new habits” (“just like magic”)
“Teach me how to love you, I'm unlearning what ain't right (love language”)
“The way you feel, something 'bout it's healing, I'm praying we don't f*ck this up” (“obvious”)
“You ain't scared to show me your ugly and maybe that's just how it's supposed to be” (“six thirty”)
All in all, this album was all that we could've hoped for and more. If you're looking for some tunes to get you through quarantine, maybe consider giving "Positions" a try.