Ariana Grande, My Everything

Madeleine Holden

By Madeleine Holden

on 08.25.14 in Reviews

My Everything

Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande has earned high expectations. Her 2013 debut Yours Truly was spectacularly well received, earning the former Nickelodeon star glowing reviews and a Breakthrough Artist of the Year award. My Everything looked set to be a compelling follow-up: The lead single, “Problem,” is prime pop music, a jubilant breakup jam with catchy saxophone loops and a husky-whispered hook (“I got one less problem without ya”; a message for teen girls to absorb to their cores). “Problem” showcases a powerful, takes-no-shit attitude that Grande spends the rest of the album diluting, dribbling out lines like “I know, I know, I know she gives you everything/ but I got nothing here without you” on meek win-him-back tracks like “One Last Time.” Grande aims for heartbreaker and sexy-vixen poses throughout the album, but she ultimately sounds most at home as a pining ex.

A blur of insipid lyrics and forgettable hooks over maximalist, cluttered beats

The mid-section of My Everything offers a couple of impressive tracks: “Be My Baby” is a highlight, with a lilting, catchy hook and in-charge lyrics; and “Best Mistake” is Grande at her most mature-sounding, with moody piano riffs and a robotic yet romantic Big Sean verse full of dorky-cute lines like “You ask why I love your Ma so much, ’cause she’s an older you.” There’s also, unfortunately, a lot of fluff: The fist-pumping, EDM-drenched anthem “Break Free” lacks the necessary intensity; “Hands on Me” sounds like a Christina Aguilera outtake from 2002; and “Break Your Heart Right Back” wheels out a thoroughly tired “I’m Coming Out” sample, with Grande sounding like she couldn’t break a heart if she tried.

It’s got convincing moments, but too many of the tracks on My Everything are samey; a blur of insipid lyrics and forgettable hooks over maximalist, cluttered beats. Grande will no doubt be a star, but this won’t be one of the albums we look back on most fondly.