“Sweetener” Review: We’re Gonna Be Alright

People were waiting for Ariana Grande’s fourth album, a collection of music that would be inextricably tied to the tragic terrorist attack at her Dangerous Woman tour in the city of Manchester last year. Though understandably devastated by the event, Grande bravely returned to put on a benefit concert to honor her fans and bring everyone together. She then dropped off of social media, only offering a cryptic teaser that hinted at new music featuring her heavenly vocals with the caption “see you next year.” As the year rolled on, albums and singles came and went. Though still largely out of sight, rumors continued to pop up that Grande was prepping something big, her most personal album yet according to industry insiders. By the time the singer started teasing lead single “no tears left to cry,” fans were insatiable, and all signs seemed to point to a power ballad about moving past tragedy that would no doubt showcase Grande’s soaring voice. Instead, they got a quirky, buoyant pop song that tricked listeners in the first 15 seconds after a somber intro explodes into an infectious UK garage beat. “I’m lovin, I’m livin, I’m pickin’ it up” Grande sings on the hook.

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Beyoncé Dominates The Grammys With 9 Nominations, Chance the Rapper Makes History

Consensus was that Beyoncé was going to clean up very well with the Grammy nominations this morning, and that consensus was right. Lemonade received an astounding 9 nominations throughout the Pop, Rap and even the Rock categories. That kind of broad support is the kind you want heading into the race, especially if you want an Album of the Year award. After coming close with her brilliant self-titled release, she might just get it with Lemonade which is her biggest, boldest work yet. She is now the most nominated woman in Grammy history. Continue reading

The Best Albums & Songs Of 2016 (So Far)

It’s hard to talk about the first half of the year without immediately jumping to Beyoncé’s Lemonade. Leave it to Queen B to not only set the internet ablaze with yet another surprise release, followed by an amazing Super Bowl performance but pull off the feat of a “movie album.” Interweaving her own personal narrative while also speaking to a much larger audience, Beyoncé presented us with a complex, stunning and emotional journey, while also pushing herself forward as an artist and setting the bar higher (yet again) for everyone who would come after.

So, what else happened this year so far? Frank Ocean finally dropped not one, but two albums. Yeah, you read that right; after countless memes and false release dates we have new Frank Ocean music. Chance the Rapper dropped a masterpiece of his own, Britney Spears is back (though she never really left), Drake scammed his way into having one of the most successful albums of the year, Ariana Grande made the first move into her “Dirrty” era and Rihanna and Kanye both dropped their respective (and also much delayed) projects, and that’s really not even scratching the surface.

It’s been such a front loaded year for music; all the heavy hitters have been releasing everything at the same time. There’s talk that Katy Perry could be coming back sooner than expected, Lady Gaga’s new song drops next week and several heavy hitters have projects that are being rumored to drop in the coming months. But enough about what’s coming, let’s look back at what’s already dropped. Among all of the big releases this year, what’s really stuck out so far?

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“Dangerous Woman” Is A Pop Masterpiece

In the three years since Ariana Grande burst onto the scene with “The Way” in 2013, she’s become one of the most exciting up and coming talents. It’s hard to remember the last time someone who went from pop ingenue to one of the genre’s fixtures in such a short amount of time. Having already scored two #1 albums and a long line of hit singles (“Problem,” “Break Free,” “Love Me Harder…” the list goes on), while breaking (and making) new Billboard records in the process and being compared to Mariah Carey, it’s a no brainer that Grande has attained such a large level of success in such a short period of time.

That being said, Dangerous Woman, the pint-sized chanteuse’s third album marks a new stage in her career. Where Yours Truly introduced “the voice,” and My Everything skyrocketed her to superstardom, this album cements Grande’s place as pop’s reigning princess.

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