Album Review: Ariana Grande is Strictly Pop on "Dangerous Woman"

(Republic Records)

Almost two years since the release of her sophomore album, My Everything, pop singer Ariana Grande is back with her new project Dangerous Woman.

When you compare Dangerous Woman to Ariana Grande’s debut album Yours Truly, it’s next to impossible not to realize how much the 22-year-old pop sensation has grown in just three years. Besides the fact that she is now an adult, it is very apparent that she is no longer the teenage Nickelodeon-actor-turned-singer. Dangerous Woman is a full-fledged attempt from Grande to strip away the G-rated perceptions that surround her.

While Dangerous Woman does lack the ballads that made Yours Truly and My Everything so notable, Ariana Grande’s new direction proves to be successful. She leads the album off with “Moonlight,” which is reminiscent of her old sound, a slow, sweet and sensual song dedicated to her new love. The tone of “Moonlight” is echoed later on in the album with the cute song “Sometimes,” where Grande admits that her current relationship is one that she wants to last. But the slow and sweet vibes on Dangerous Woman are rare, as the album immediately changes tone with Grande’s hit single named after the album; “Dangerous Woman,” a song that encompasses exactly where Grande is now. She’s more mature, more edgy, and more dangerous. She continues this theme on “Into You,” which is essentially an open letter to her lover, inviting him to come over and touch her body. “Side to Side” is a boastful track that features a verse from Nicki Minaj. With some extremely creative punchlines ("Curry with the me Stephanie"), Nicki raps about how she is the queen of rap, and no one is about to take that from her. She also co-signs Ariana Grande, letting the audience know that she is running pop music.

Nicki isn’t the only rapper who Grande recruited to help her out. On “Let Me Love You,” one of the sexier songs on Dangerous Woman, Lil Wayne provides his own verse. He reminds the listener that they should say “goodbye to the good girl,” (again referring to Grande’s transformation) and even explicitly describes a promiscuous encounter that he either has had or wishes to have with Ariana Grande herself.

Dangerous Woman continues the trend of sexy duets with big name rappers on “Everyday,” an upbeat song featuring Future, where the two highlight their sexual experiences, including how often the do it (everyday), with their respectful partners. “I Don’t Care” continues the theme of the album, and is basically Grande’s wave goodbye to her Nickelodeon days. It serves as the perfect segway to “Bad Decisions,” where she highlights the love she has for her partner in much more detail than she has on her previous projects. The album culminates with “Thinking Bout You,” where Grande tones it back down to complement the title track. In the sweet ballad, she remembers her previous lover. It serves as the perfect closer for the album. 

Despite missing out on some of the more big and catchy ballads that Ariana Grande had become known for, Dangerous Woman proves to be just as, if not more, successful as her previous projects. There are no inherently “bad” tracks on the album, and each one provides us with a deeper glimpse into Grande’s life, proving just how much more comfortable she is and how much she is willing to expose with her fans.