Ariana Grande’s ‘My Everything’: Album Review

It’s incredibly hard to believe that Ariana Grande is only on her second album. It is also hard to believe that her debut album Yours Truly was only released a calendar year ago. That’s because in those 12 months, Miss Grande evolved from a Nickelodeon graduate to a Pop superstar. Her follow-up album My Everything (out today, ) diminishes any theory of a sophomore curse, as Ariana delivers a solid enough work — however, it’s done with the help of many.

From the moment we got a taste of Ariana’s chops, the Mariah Carey and Christina Aguilera comparisons immediately followed. They can successfully continue, starting with My Everything‘s vocal exercise Intro. Ariana can sang, and it’s been a while since a pop artist paired soulful coos with a cutesy teeny bopper package. With that responsibility, though, comes the “Daddy, I’m grown” complex. It happened with the aforementioned divas (throw Britney Spears into that mix) and we’re watching it happen with Miley Cyrus. And while Ariana isn’t quite there yet, she is tiptoeing into more mature territory on her follow-up. Still, her production is playful and her lines aren’t too risqué, but she’s getting there.

The project arrives with built-in fireworks, as “Problem” with Iggy Azalea and Big Sean is astronomical, plus “Break Free” with Zedd and “Bang Bang” with Jessie J and Nicki Minaj will be baby titans soon enough. There are a few other potential singles on the album, but a considerable portion is filler with expensive cameos, as My Everything boasts collaborations on more than half of the album’s tracks (whereas her debut only had a few). It’s not wise to call in all of your favors at once, Ariana. You may need them when you’re in your “do I still got it?” phase.

Two of the single hopefuls include the breezy “Be My Baby” with Cashmere Cat and the woozy “Love Me Harder” with The Weeknd. Both lack in the hyper department — which is a good thing, considering once the bells and whistles are stripped away from Ariana, we’re left with what we initially loved about her: her voice. It doesn’t always work on My Everything. “Best Mistake” with Big Sean sounds like the average looking cousin of their previous duet “Right There,” while songs like “One Last Time” and “Why Try” are smooth yet eerily resemble when an adult contemporary artist attempts Dance music (sorry, Shania Twain).

The Harry Styles-penned “Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart” and the title track (co-written by Grande herself) are both wins in the balladeer department, where tight lyrics and stunning vocals are the perfect recipe for success. Grande gets outshone twice by rappers on My Everything: once by Childish Gambino on “Break Your Heart” and the other by A$AP Ferg on the confusing “Hands On Me,” as on both it feels like “such and such featuring Ariana Grande.” But that’s the risk you take when recruiting artists with big personalities.

The deluxe edition of My Everything comes with two more songs that are a 50/50 split of amazing and underwhelming. “Only 1” is gorgeous, reflecting where Ariana Grande can possibly go in her style and sound with enough gumption. The other is “You Don’t Know Me,” which is a “meh” expression of how well she can sing.

My Everything has many more ups than downs, thereby proving that Ariana Grande has fully lived up to her superstar status. Growing pains are evident, as she struggles with singing about maturer things in the midst of sating a squeaky clean fan base, but she has time to figure that all out. It’s hard to be something to everyone, especially when you give your everything.

Best Song That Wasn’t the Single: “Love Me Harder” with The Weeknd. It’s fast enough, it’s slow enough. It’s bold enough, it’s shy enough. It’s just enough…and then some.

Best Listened To: With your friends Ariana, Abel…and Molly. Just kidding. Kind of.

Idolator Score: 4/5

Kathy Iandoli

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