Arianators rejoice! After three long years of waiting for a full length album release, Ariana Grande’s debut album “Yours Truly” has FINALLY been released to the world on September 3. If you don’t know who Ariana Grande is by now, don’t worry, you will soon. Within the past few weeks, Ariana has managed to promote her second single “Baby, I”, open up for the southern leg of Justin Bieber’s Believe tour, hit the road on her own tour (Listening Sessions), and even perform during the VMA Pre Show on MTV. Oh…and did I mention that it is quite possible that she has one of the BEST voices of our generation? Yeah…believe it.
This is also a girl who knows what direction she wants to go with her music. After putting together an entire album about a year ago that wasn’t the style of music Ariana wanted to be known for (think bubblegum anthems like her standalone single “Put Your Hearts Up”), Ariana decided to go back to the drawing board and take her time creating an entirely different album filled with the throwback R&B, pop magic she is passionate about. As any obsessed fan, I have personally been dying of anticipation for this album all summer. So, without further adieu here is the long-awaited Pop Project Exclusive track-by-track album review of Yours Truly.
Let me begin by saying that I have loved, adored and obsessed over this song since the first time I heard it 2 years ago on YouTube. True Arianators will recognize a different arrangement than the original version planned for the first draft of the album. The new arrangement is a bit slower with a more emphasized R&B feel. Guest vocals are featured from fellow Victorious alum/producer/friend of Ariana, Leon Thomas III. This song is perfect. Yes it is a different arrangement, but the new arrangement is what makes the song. The intro and ending are so on point, and makes for a strong opening track to the album.
2. Baby, I
Fans will already be familiar with the second track on the album, as it is Ariana’s second single from the album which was released earlier this summer. The track starts out strong with almost a theatrical feel to it. The production is big, and Ariana’s vocals are even bigger. As with many tracks on this album, Ariana doesn’t just dabble in the “whistle register” of her range, she SLAYS it, and this song is a perfect example. Fun, upbeat, throwback sounding track.
3. Right There
This track was included in the pre-order of the album on iTunes, so most Arianators are familiar with this track as well. The track includes a feature from rapper Big Sean, which is perfection. Ariana has explained this song in earlier interviews as a sort of “follow up” or response to her first single “The Way”, which is logical based on the similarities that are heard between the arrangements of the tracks. Once again, the throwback 90’s R&B/Pop sound is laced throughout the track. Definitely a nice addition to the album.
4. Lovin’ It
Personally, I cannot stop singing this song. This is definitely one of those tracks on the album that make the “Mariah Carey” comparison come up, which is a HUGE compliment to Ariana. This song is pure throwback perfection. The lyrics are fun and the beat is infectious. I dare you to not get this song stuck in your head after listening. And let me just say that the bridge is nothing short of amazing….Is it obvious I am OBSESSED with this song?
It’s hard to explain this track. It is very heavy with, what else, piano…and I love it. The lyrics are super fun and just make you want to sing along. The track is one of those feel good songs about music and love and warm feelings and just….wonderfulness. Is that a word? Well now it is because that is what this song is. Wonderfulness.
Long time fans of Ariana will know that her concept for her original first album was very heavily influenced by 50s, du-wop sounding tracks. Daydreamin’ is one of the few tracks from the first draft of the album that made it to the final product. It features a definite du-wop throwback sound, and sounds like you should be listening to it in a soda shop while wearing a poodle skirt. I also must confess I have quoted this song on multiple social media pages for the past 2 years because I love it so much. Fun fact: the song is inspired by the real life romance of Ariana’s Nonna and Grandpa. That conversation at the end of the track? Yep, that is them. How cute!?
7. Tattooed Heart
Oh this song…I don’t even know what to say except that it is absolute perfection. Again it features the prominent 50s du-wop sound which I am obsessed with. This song just makes me think of a sock hop, dimmed lights, slow dancing, ribbons in my hair…and a ride home from a cute boy with slicked back hair and a 50s pink Chevy convertible. It’s everything I dream of and wish for. This song also features some of my favorite lyrics from the entire album. Just a lovely, lovely little song.
8. The Way
You know this song. You love this song. It is STILL killing it on Top 40 radio, and I am STILL jealous that Ariana got to kiss my man Mac in the video for it. Such a fun song.
9. You’ll Never Know
Rolling Stone premiered this track earlier this week, and I of course freaked out over it. The track features the 90s throwback sound as before heard in the album. What got me about this song is that this song dropped just around the time of an apparent break-up between Ariana and boyfriend Jai Brooks of YouTube fame. Although details of the breakup are still unknown, I like to think of this song as a bit of an anthem for Ariana in this situation. Very fun track.
10. Almost Is Never Enough
If there was one track on this album that I could see becoming a classic “ballad” to stand the test of time for years to come, this would be it. This song is gorgeous. Everything about it is gorgeous. The track includes a feature from The Wanted’s Nathan Sykes, whose voice meshes nicely with Ariana’s. The song was also recently featured in the motion picture The Mortal Instruments: The City of Bones, and appears on the soundtrack as an amended version. Ariana sings the hell out of this song, and just showcases her range and control so well. An absolutely beautiful song that I hope gains the recognition that it deserves…Grammys anyone?
11. Popular Song
Although I love this song for it’s upbeat sound and message, I have to admit that this track appearing on this album made me a bit disappointed. The track is primarily Mika’s track, and appears on Mika’s recent album as well. Did this really need to be included on this album? No. In my opinion it doesn’t fit with the other tracks on the album, and is a track that many Arianators already own. I feel that Ariana could have placed one of the other beloved songs from the original draft of the album that didn’t make the cut in this tracks place….But I guess we will all just have to deal.
12. Better Left Unsaid
This song in my opinion is the hidden gem of the album. The track starts out sweet and poppy like some of the others on the album. Soft-spoken lyrics backed by a theatrical arrangement, quickly and suddenly morphs into an almost rave/house music influenced chorus that makes you want to jump and fist pump with the best of them. This song is extremely catchy, fun and energetic. Lucky attendees of Ariana’s recent tour will especially love this song if they have seen her perform it live, and have experienced seeing Ariana’s hidden talent for doing full-out choreography in sky-high heels to the track…Her talents are just never-ending.
13. The Way-Spanglish (iTunes bonus Track)
Because I guess we needed this on the album? Honestly I could take or leave this track because…I don’t know Spanish unless it seems on a Mexican restaurant menu. Sorry not sorry.
So, my overall thoughts on this album? It is everything I wanted it to be. It has old tracks I knew and loved from earlier years of the album process, as well as new tracks, and of course the two hit singles that were released earlier this year. Do I hate the fact that Popular Song is included on this album? Yes. Do I find the Spanglish version of The Way completely unnecessary and pointless? Yes. Do I think that she should have included some of the old fan favorites such as “Voodoo Love, Pink Champagne, Do You Love Me and Boyfriend Material?” YES….But do I also think that this album could possibly, fingers crossed, get Ariana a GRAMMY nomination for new artist?…I actually think so. If nothing else, this album, along with the Top 40 charting singles that have already been released from Ariana earlier this summer are enough to get her name out to those who may not know her music yet, and to show the world just how amazing her voice actually is. I mean…A REAL singer with REAL talent making an album with REAL instruments and without the use of autotune or gimmicks to cover up flaws? Where can you find that in today’s music industry?…Oh I know. Her name is Ariana Grande, and she is about to take over the world.