Five years on from Ariana Grande’s fourth studio album and it just keeps getting sweeter.
Released on August 17th, 2018, she gave the world an insight into her life over the previous year. Significantly ‘Sweetener‘ acted like a stage for Grande to showcase some of her most compelling and experimental work.
Along with sharing her space with Pharrell Williams who helped to produce she collaborated with some of the most influential female artists, such as Nicki Minaj and Missy Elliot. With this release, she cemented herself further as one of the most respected pop singers to date.
The light is coming
Releasing the legendary album just over a year after the devastating Manchester Arena Attack, this body of work gave fans a new vulnerability we hadn’t seen from the celebrated artist. ‘Sweetener‘ served as a comeback and a way of showing the world she was still here. Additionally, it gave her fans the promise of a light at the end of the tunnel. Doing so through a fierce and confident promise on the track, ‘the light is coming‘ featuring Nicki Minaj.
She used this new resilience to create a safe space to talk about her experience with anxiety and the importance of perseverance. Simultaneously, the track ‘breathin’ serves as a mantra to live by. Whereas the closing number, ‘get well soon’ is a testament to the struggles she and the rest of the world were facing. She asks herself “Girl, what’s wrong with you? Come back down”, in relation to what she describes as “I felt like I was floating.” Further looking in on the impact the attack had, not only on her own life but her relationships with her fans, the song’s closure is a 40-second long pause of silence, putting the track at 5 minutes and 22 seconds long. Most fans speculate this was Ariana’s way of honouring the fans that were affected by the attack on May 5th, 2017.
Her experience with Womanhood
However, one of the most powerful messages throughout the album is her insight into womanhood. As a whole, ‘Sweetener‘ focuses on the celebration of women and appreciation for the struggles they face. The highly praised single ‘God is a woman’ demonstrates the female experience. It highlights the significance of understanding your body and becoming comfortable with your own desires and beliefs. Not only does it speak metaphorically about her importance within her own relationships, it unapologetically takes on controversy and stands tall in the face of it. Illustrated in the repeating of the song title itself at the end of the ballad, you are transported into this heavenly scene she has created.
At the same time, we saw Ariana transparent about the realities of relationships. Likewise, for most people, their experience with romance isn’t always perfect. With songs such as, ‘goodnight n go’ and ‘better off’ we are acquainted with the familiarity of having to let go of what you want to be true to yourself. This is fearlessly portrayed as something we should not be ashamed of.
The importance of ‘Sweetener‘
The LP’s message has stood the test of time and has acted as a pillar of empowerment to people everywhere. For myself, ‘Sweetener‘ opened up and spoke out about the human experience. As we all know, music can transport and inspire you, but it can also act as a voice.
Ariana showed all sides of herself through this project and spoke truly and honestly about the imperfections and difficulties we all face. She did this by stating how paramount it is that you stop at nothing to find peace and happiness. This piece of work will continue to showcase this for many years to come.