No bitter notes in sweetener

Pop star Ariana Grande.  Photo by DeviantArt user LegendaryRonin.

Ariana Grande is one of the luckiest women in the world. There’s the insane vocal talent, a successful acting and musical career, and of course, the famous ponytail I could only dream of replicating – all of this is something that makes it easy to envy her. However, even if she has been blessed with talent and beauty, she’s faced a tragedy no one should ever have to face: a terrorist attack at her concert last year in Manchester, England.

The attack killed 22 people and injured over 500. Grande dedicated her time to helping the victims of the attack by holding her One Love Manchester benefit concert, then she fell off the radar, going quiet on social media and cancelling the rest of her Dangerous Woman tour. Now, she’s back with her fourth album and she’s using her music to send a message.

Musically, the album is different from any music she’s ever made before – a mix of 90s pop vibes and trap music, with sort of a dreamy element. Throughout Sweetener, she tells a story of hope after going through a dark time, finding love, and enlightenment. When I listen to this album, I feel like I’m floating on a cloud, which seems to be her goal since she so often tweets cloud emojis with lyrics from the album. 

Some of the songs and lyrics are so raw and real, a contrast from her last album Dangerous Woman focused heavily on sex. In cathartic songs like “breathin’” and “get well soon”, Grande pours her heart out about her mental health issues. 

She discussed her PTSD and severe anxiety after the attack in an interview with Time Magazine in May, explaining how much the incident still affects her. “You think with time it’ll be easier to talk about it. Or you’ll make peace with it. But every day I wait for that peace to come and it’s still very painful.” 

“I’m crying, but I’m happy,” she told Time. Her happiness is illustrated by songs such as “no tears left to cry” and “the light is coming”, which talk about how she’s better than ever after the darkest time of her life.

This album is important in a time where is there is so much hate and darkness in the world. Grande is a huge pop culture influence on millennials and the younger generation, so her message of hope and staying positive during a hard time in life is bound to have an impact of the young people of the world. 

There’s no telling what Grande has next up her sleeve regarding music videos and tours for this album, but it’s sure to be something that will strengthen the legacy she already has of being a strong woman who uses her platform to spread messages of love and peace.