Pop Perspective: Ariana Grande’s “Focus” Reviewed And Rated By Idolator Editors

Mike Wass | October 30, 2015 3:51 pm
Ariana Grande's "Focus" Video
Ariana Grande revisits the retro vibe of "Problem" in her latest video. Watch.

At Idolator, the editors share a passion for high-quality pop. Occasionally, our tastes align. Other times, not so much! So, in the spirit of debate, we’ve developed a recurring feature called Pop Perspective. Basically, all four of us dissect a particularly noteworthy pop event, and give it a rating out of 10.

That way you’re getting a full spectrum of views and we can all vent. (It’s cheaper than therapy!) The latest pop event to be dragged under the Idolator microscope is the first taste of Ariana Grande’s third LP Moonlight. Is “Focus” good enough to replace Adele at number one on iTunes or does the donut-licking diva miss the mark this time around? See our thoughts below.

Robbie Daw — 4/10

I can forgive a pop song for lacking a hook — and let’s be clear, all involved could have “focused” a little harder on a better chorus… or any chorus at all — but the main pre-chorus melody here was much better when it was recorded by KC And The Sunshine Band as “That’s The Way (I Like It)” some 35 years ago. What direction does Ariana Grande want to be going at this point in her career? That’s not quite clear. One would have hoped, three albums in, there would be something deeper up her sleeve than “Focus” is offering. We shall see.

Bianca Gracie — 5/10

Ariana Grande has been teasing “Focus” for what seems to be eternity, but based on the endless snippets I knew it wasn’t going to live up to the hype. Today the song and video are out in full, and as predicted I’m not blown away.

The song ticks off every box of what Ariana is known for. Melodic vocals? Check. A throwback vibe that may or may not be derived from a ’70s disco band? Check. A bumping brass section? Check. Sassy lyrics about a boy? Check. There is nothing exciting or innovative about this single, which is a shame since it is the first taste we’re getting from her upcoming third album. I played “Focus” three times in a row, and I’m still trying to figure out if that pseudo-funky non-chorus is an actual chorus. The tune is simply boring and is another reminder that pop has been generally mediocre (save for a couple of gems) this year.

Lastly, can Scooter Braun please invest in a good vocal coach for Ariana? The talent is obviously there but I’m getting tired of trying to translate her mumbled tunes. And a quick note for producers everywhere: Let’s throw away all horn instruments before 2016 arrives.

Mike Wass — 6/10

I preferred the song when it was released in 2014 with an Iggy Azalea feature, but it’s catchy enough. All the elements of a modern pop hit are here. Layers of hooks, sassy lyrics (when you can understand them) and the now-omnipresent horns. Ariana has a strong personality when she’s not pretending to be America’s sweetheart. I just wish she could convey that through her music instead of opting for the safest route possible.


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