Ariana Grande‘s “The Way” was one of the most unexpected delights on radio this summer, so anticipation was high for the chanteuse’s follow-up single — and “Baby I,” released on iTunes last night, does a fine job of meeting the bar where she set it with her debut.
A shimmering, summery R&B midtempo, helmed by Babyface, Tony Dixon and j.Que, “Baby I” feels as slight and airy as “The Way” did, even as her extraordinary vocal performance lends it some additional heft. Comparisons to Mariah Carey are starting to grow tiresome, but truly — who else has a range like that?
It’s a little curious that the opening instrumentation sounds exactly like Sugababes‘ “Get Sexy” — is that a production signature? — but aside from that, the track evokes mid-’90s R&B in the very best way, like a track Mariah or Brandy might have cut twenty years ago souped-up for contemporary radio. And that vocal run at 1:53? It’s nothing short of everything.
Ariana Grande — “Baby I”