There’s no question that Ariana Grande has been on a meteoric rise to true pop legend status since the release of her debut, Yours Truly. What started off as vaguely Mariah-inspired 90s pop&B has quickly blown up into a whole pop factory. My Everything really nailed this in-between period with some of her biggest hits coming out of this era: the horn-thumping “Problem,” EDM-pop tune “Break Free,” and of course, the colossal pop&B hit “Love Me Harder” with The Weeknd. Ariana is constantly collaborating with some of music’s best (Kendrick, Nicki, Future) and with music’s up-and-coming. And since doing so, Ariana’s sense of artistry has become fearless and refined. At the flip of a switch, she goes from fresh ingenue to seasoned vet. And that’s where we find ourselves on her latest LP, Dangerous Woman.
It’s almost misleading when the title track’s waltzy chorus comes on and Grande sings, “You make me feel like a dangerous woman.” She doesn’t need to be made to feel dangerous. And maybe that’s the power behind the record. Ariana Grande doesn’t have to assert her power. She’ll put out a record of 16 hits and just let the radio and fans fight over what they like best. Pop stars like Madonna and Britney are forgone. What happens in pop now is a bit more muted and idiosyncratic. Dangerous Woman is a lot of things. It’s soulful, it’s funky, it’s poppy, and it’s moody. But, the center of the record is always Ariana’s presence, supplemented by her wonderful singing and catchy lyricism.
There’s a lot to be sought out in the club eclecticism of Dangerous Woman. Sure, it’s leagues slicker than her debut, but the wistful ballads haven’t gone away. Just give “Moonlight” or “I Don’t Care” a spin for some string-heavy, introspective tracks with show-stopping vocals. Then, there’s the bouncy, club-lite “Be Alright” and “Into You” that yearn to be spun on a drunk Saturday night. There’s a reggae-lite diversion with “Side to Side,” one of her biggest hits yet, which also has a great Nicki feature. But, by far the best pieces of the record are the tracks that fill the niche of the electro-R&B diva. “Let Me Love You” swings hip-hop-heavy, even including a Weezy feature; but it’s deliciously dark. “Knew Better / Forever Boy” is a wistful, woozy electropop ditty that switches up rhythms halfway through, making for a strong closer.
Ariana’s third tour should be her best yet. There’s a real catalogue of big hits to build on. On stage, Ariana’s presence is all-consuming. The real strength behind watching her on stage is the delivery of her vocals. With just a piano, mic, and a good song, Ariana can already put on a stunning, breathtaking show. But not one to settle for a simple show, the Dangerous Woman Tour will feature a plethora of amazing costumes, light shows, and pop choreography. The tour will be stopping by the Smoothie King Center on April 11. So, if you haven’t gotten a ticket yet, snag one to see one of pop’s most dangerous innovators.
More information on the Dangerous Woman Tour can be found at ticketmaster.com