Ariana Grande: Eternal Sunshine

by Olivia Barker

Ariana Grande’s latest album, eternal sunshine, released on March 8th, represented an interesting step for the artist. The tracks on eternal sunshine seem to both embody Grande’s traditional pop roots while also delving into more soulful, reflective sounds in certain songs.

Grande starts off the album with the nostalgic sounds of “intro (end of the world)”, a short track that skillfully manipulates orchestral sounds and subtle crescendos to create a dramatic effect, leaving listeners in a thoughtful state.
Immediately after this first track comes the song “bye”. This song, along with other tracks on the album such as “yes, and?” and “the boy is mine”, are true to Grande’s pop, diva-like style. These songs have a sense of familiarity to her 2019 thank you, next album, toying with similar themes of independence and unapologetic sexuality. At times, though, these tracks feel a bit juvenile compared with the album’s more introspective tracks.

These tracks – the real gems of the album – include the touching “imperfect for you”, my personal favorite “i wish i hated you”, and, of course, the crowd favorite “we can’t be friends”. In these tracks, Grande crafts a beautiful, ethereal sound that makes listeners feel as though they’re floating seamlessly alongside the artist between bars. In “imperfect for you”, she surprises the audience with a minor progression that complements the idea of imperfection of which the song admirably speaks. And, notably, the composition is impressive, especially in “we can’t be friends”. The track cleverly ties composition choices to the lyrics, such as in stripping the background instrumentals following the line “me and my truth, we sit in silence”. This technique is introduced again to create a powerful final chorus, removing instrumentals to leave an iconic vocal layering that is chilling for listeners.

It is also necessary to point out the often understated skill Grande has with lyrics. For instance, in “i wish i hated you”, lines like “our shadows dance in a parallel plane / just two different endings” remind her audience that her talents extend beyond vocals and into poetic writing. These stylistic shifts and impressive lyrics certainly indicate a new sophistication Grande seems to be embodying in her latest steps with her music.

While this album certainly takes a step in this direction, it would be great to see Grande go further and take more advantage of her natural vocal prowess to experiment with a less formulaic composition in the future. Her work on the 2013 track “Tattooed Heart” revealed the powerful effect her vocal runs can have, especially when deviating from a rigid verse to chorus style. Luckily, some of the stylistic changes Grande makes in eternal sunshine point to some artistic experimentation that, after their success of this album, are sure to expand in her future works.

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