The Sweet Return of a Pop Icon

Tiara White, Staff Writer

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The release of her fourth studio album, “Sweetener”, marks a new era in Ariana Grande’s life.

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This new era is not only marked by a more mature sound, but also by a greater emphasis on stunning visuals.

The incentive for this transition was the Manchester shooting that occurred at her concert on May 22, 2017.

This tragic event was a turning point that forced Grande to reconsider her own actions and how they can affect not only her, but others.

An immense amount of guilt accompanied this realization, as she felt part of the blame for the shooting itself.

The visual in “No Tears Left to Cry,” her first single from the new album, reflect the push and pulls of life and rise above the negativity of this horrific event.

Grande’s weightlessness in the video represents her newfound freedom from these burdens.

At the end of the video, viewers see a single bee fly towards the camera directly referring to Manchester, as the bee is a prominent symbol on their coat of arms.

In her second released single, “God is a Woman,” she shows women empowerment by replacing iconic figures and gods with the female body.

Grande presents herself alongside mythological Cerberus. As the three headed dog guards the gates of the Underworld, Ariana symbolizes that she is the guardian of her own fate.

When women choose to think and use their minds, they’re often faced with major backlash by the male population.

Grande addresses this in the scene where she is posed as the famous ‘The Thinker’ statue, she remains composed while facing degrading comments from the men around her.

“Sweetener” covers a variety of topics ranging from romance to everyday positivity.

Opening the album is an ethereal, a cappella, piece entitled “Raindrops (An Angel Cried),” that sends goosebumps up your spine with her hypnotizing vocals.

Written about her fiancé, Pete Davidson, “R.E.M” makes you feel like you’re falling in love, her revelation about finding the man of her dreams makes the listener feel like she/he found their soulmate as well.

Love is the theme behind many of the songs in this album, such as “Pete Davidson,” “Better Off,” and “Everytime.”

Another theme that heavily influences this album is everyday positivity and self-worth.

Grande gives the listeners a breath of fresh air with the song, “Breathin.”

In this track, Grande tells her audience that no matter what life throws at you to keep breathing and push forward.

This song is reminiscent of her past albums in the sense that it is very pop-driven, but it differs in the focus.

“Breathin” highlights Grande’s powerful vocals rather than relying on a overly-synthetic beat to carry the tune.

To tie the album together, the first and last songs are dedicated to the victims of the Manchester shooting.

“Get Well Soon” is a message to the families and community of Manchester, that despite their tragic losses, this is something that will pass.

With love and a little bit of time, Ariana is longing for Manchester to get well soon.

By adding 30 seconds of silence to the end of the track, she increases the songs duration to 5:22, which is the date of the attack on Manchester.

The rest of the album is filled with uplifting and women-positive bops that were well worth the wait.

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