Sweetener is Ariana Grande’s latest album and feels different and more honest than her past work. She does not force herself in mournful ballads, and instead, she lets the joy of her title track radiate across her album showing a new form of true love. Sweetener is her fourth studio album; her previous albums include Dangerous Woman, My Everything, and Yours Truly. They were solid, filled with trendy guests and fueled by her bad-girl alter ego.
Everything in Sweetener flows loosely on the popular sounds of pop music. The album contains a colourful, fun, preppy attitude, low-key joy, and newfound love of finding hope in life. It also contains elements of Grande experimenting with a variety of sounds, such as layered vocals and skittering percussion. Grande co-wrote more songs in this album, 10 out of 15, and formed a particular bond with Pharrell Williams.
The album begins with an acapella intro, “Raindrops (An Angel Cried),” which was originally performed by The Four Seasons. The second song “Blazed” is a funk-influenced song, featuring Pharrell Williams. “The Light is Coming” is an odd track to be featured in the album, mostly because of the prominent Nicki Minaj feature and vocal samples of a man who is shouting at former senator Arlen Specter. The tune and the production of the song sound like an experimental track from the N.E.R.D record. The song “R.E.M” is built on an R&B and doo-wop beat. “God Is a Woman” is a female empowerment song that contains sexual lyrics. It contains trap-pop sounds and strong influences of reggae. “Sweetener,” the title track of the album, features Pharrell Williams vocals in the background. The chorus contains lyrics which symbolizes female empowerment and individual growth in life. “Successful” contains a gospel, trap, and 90’s influence soul. The track contains suggestive lyrics about individual success, most likely Grande’s herself. “Everytime” and “Breathin” are dance-pop songs with a strong influence of synth-pop. “No Tears Left to Cry” is a pop-dance track about the Manchester Arena bombing and was her first single for the album. “Borderline” features American female rapper Missy Elliot and contains a contemporary 90’s R&B flow. “Better Off” presents a strong power ballad of an individual moving on from a toxic relationship. “Goodnight n Go” contains EDM elements with tropical tune influences. The second last track is called “Pete Davidson” which is an interlude of the album and discusses her then-fiancé Pete Davidson and how he gave her happiness. The last track “Get Well Soon” is a laid-back R&B melodic ballad that discusses Grande’s mental health.
Sweetener lives up to its name as an album that contains a different musical and instrumental style while still fitting in the mainstream pop industry. The production and singing contain breathtaking moments of Grande’s vocal interpretation. With the prominent use of R&B sounds, doo-wop vocals, gospel acapella, cheeky and sweet singing, and rap flow, Grande has paved a new music path in the traditional pop industry.