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Ariana Grande - Yours Truly Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 7
Musicianship 7
Lyrics 7
Production 7
Creativity 7
Lasting Value 7
Reviewer Tilt 7
Final Verdict: 70%
Member Ratings
Vocals 8.35
Musicianship 7.2
Lyrics 6
Production 8.6
Creativity 6.55
Lasting Value 6.65
Reviewer Tilt 7.5
Average: 73%

Ariana Grande - Yours Truly

Reviewed by: Ryan Dennehy (10/08/13)
Ariana GrandeYours Truly
Release Date: August 30, 2013
Record Label: Republic


Ariana Grande sounds a lot like Mariah Carey. She was a star on a Nickelodeon show targeted at tweens.

Now that those obligatory notices have been posted, let’s get down to the grit of things. Her debut single “Hearts Up” was a jolt of Stepford smiles and sundresses right to the veins, but Yours Truly is more tempered and less likely to put you in a beaming state of catatonia. Whatever is left of that overly sunny disposition has been diluted and spread more evenly throughout the course of an entire album, eliciting a smile without forcing it or leaving your jaw sore.

Ari's accomplishment is to innoculate against despair while being surprisingly faithful to her predecessors. It would be oh so easy for her to follow the rest of the modern pop landscape, to become one of any number of interchangeable divas to be found on Avicii or Zedd’s latest inescapable pop-EDM monstrosity. To her immense credit, she puts her undeniable vocal chops to good use in forming her own identity. Her sleeper hit “The Way” marked a change in direction for her own sound as well as for the featured Mac Miller, who would go on to release one of the best received rap records of the year. But what was most interesting about “The Way” wasn’t the continuing Mac künstlerroman, but Grande’s own. It made palatable something that was more out of step with the current top 40 than most would admit, and with it Ari had sidestepped and then proceeded to leap over the career trajectory of Demi Lovato. Justin Timberlake may have dug up and refurbished mid-20th century soul on The 20/20 Experience and made it cool to do so, but Ari looks to those same source materials and feels less like a trendhopper and more like a sincere retro-devotee.

The doo-wop “shibbadeedoos” and strings that open the record are forced to bend and give way to Grande simply warming her voice up and then dissipate entirely. They’re replaced by trap-esque rattles and “ayy”s that exude none of Young Chop’s intimidation or Lex Luger’s bombast, but are instead endearing and ingratiating, a headscrathing yet welcome change of pace. The straight faced retro sensibilities of “Tattooed Heart” find Grande pining away for the 50s, an era that her singing does more to reinvigorate and whitewash than could be expected of someone born three decades after its conclusion. Big Sean makes a characteristically goofy appearance on “Right There,” but is helped immeasurably by Grande’s breathtaking vocal chops and the already converted listener. There are some pieces on this strong first half that could and should have been easily disposed of: the sickly, unfortunately dated “whoa-ohs” on the otherwise stellar “Piano” or the opening of “Baby I”s kinship with a movie studio’s bumper music, but these are minor complaints when compared to the stuttering beat and finger snaps of the latter or the pure sincerity of the feel-good anthem enumerated by Grande on the former.

It’s quite the accomplishment for Grande, a very young rising star, to have so much control over a voice that feels like it could raze a club to the ground immediately after reducing a wooden man to tears. Her versatility is demonstrated as she bounces and glides effortlessly along the disparate influences of the past. But she is not flawless yet: the rap-sing of “Popular Song” is a troubling sign of what the record might have been without Grande’s commanding presence at the helm. It’s an irritating conceit to base a song upon, only made worse by the grating autotune of guest feature Mika, who we can only help steers well away from Grande’s next record. There are moments where Grande also fails to keep the influence of the moment at bay, as on the otherwise vocally stunning "Better Left Unsaid"s unfortunate concession to a "if you want to party put your hands up!" hook that would be laughable if it wasn't a true travesty that Grande wasn't left to command the listener herself; or the fumbling gurgle and quik-lok zips of the harmlessly bouncy “Daydreamin.”

That the record was once supposed to be named after “Daydreamin” is a testament to the veritable artistry of Grande. Rather than take the path of least resistance with a record of all the latest trends, Grande opted to make an attempt at following her own vision. The record’s palpable sense of earnestness comes from Grande’s powerful voice, imbued as it is with a weathered feel that it’s all too easy to remark as being “beyond her years.” Yours Truly could have been named Sincerely Yours or All The Best, Ariana; but the sentiment would remain the same. Ariana Grande is signing her name to this product, a missive containing some of her most personal thoughts and her oft-regrettable youthful impulses.

7/10
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 21
09:58 PM on 10/08/13
#2
DeviateRogue
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I'm not afraid to jam this with my windows down. Bottom half is great.
11:02 PM on 10/08/13
#3
kianacarly
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I was a fan of some of her covers, but idk her bad enunciation skills really get to me so I'm not totally sold yet.

edit: and now that I probably sound like a total hater, I'm really confused about what is going on with her arms on that artwork.
04:09 AM on 10/09/13
#4
Matt Chylak
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Quote:
a voice that feels like it could raze a club to the ground immediately after reducing a wooden man to tears
nice line haha
04:38 AM on 10/09/13
#5
dmcaloon
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My experience with this album so far are two horrendous guest vocalists and one mediocre song with repetition of the word baby comparable to Bieber. I feel like I should take a closer look with in open mind, but it's gonna be really hard.
07:11 AM on 10/09/13
#6
cshadows2887
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Pretty solid review, but I'm bewildered by the pot shot at Timberlake as a trendhopper, but crediting Ariana as a sincere devotee. Just seemed really random.
07:18 AM on 10/09/13
#7
Ryan Dennehy
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Pretty solid review, but I'm bewildered by the pot shot at Timberlake as a trendhopper, but crediting Ariana as a sincere devotee. Just seemed really random.
Does it come off that way? I wasn't trying to say that he is because obviously he's not. It was more of a "JT made this sound slick and popular but Ari isn't just copying him." I had to switch around that paragraph a bit so it might have gotten a little murky.

edit: damn lol it does sound like i'm shitting on JT, totally not my intention at all. whoops.
08:49 AM on 10/09/13
#8
WeltallAY
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I don't get the buzz behind her, she is obviously attractive and can sing but she sounds like all the other young female pop vocalists to me.
10:06 AM on 10/09/13
#9
incognitojones
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I'd agree with that 7, but if you start skipping Popular Song it jumps to a 8.5 easy, getting to 9 territory. Should've done Pink Champagne!

I don't get the buzz behind her, she is obviously attractive and can sing but she sounds like all the other young female pop vocalists to me.
That's like me saying all the metalcore bands you like are exactly the same. C'mon man, you know its not true your exposure is just too low. Her vibe is mad different from other big stars right now.
10:14 AM on 10/09/13
WeltallAY
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I'd agree with that 7, but if you start skipping Popular Song it jumps to a 8.5 easy, getting to 9 territory. Should've done Pink Champagne!


That's like me saying all the metalcore bands you like are exactly the same. C'mon man, you know its not true your exposure is just too low. Her vibe is mad different from other big stars right now.
Prob true, I just fail to connect with it.
10:51 AM on 10/09/13
live.
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This girl has some pipes. BUT SHE CHEATED ON JAI OMGX
10:53 AM on 10/09/13
cshadows2887
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Does it come off that way? I wasn't trying to say that he is because obviously he's not. It was more of a "JT made this sound slick and popular but Ari isn't just copying him." I had to switch around that paragraph a bit so it might have gotten a little murky.

edit: damn lol it does sound like i'm shitting on JT, totally not my intention at all. whoops.
Ah gotcha. Trapped by sentence structure. Haha.
10:54 AM on 10/09/13
j4callen
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I just don't like this girl or her songs one bit. No clue why. Big pop music fan.

EDIT: Upon further thought I think it's how feeble and dainty she sounds. Just not my style. Too cutesy. Also, vocal runs are annoying. They're like sung out cock rock solos to me.
11:14 AM on 10/09/13
Steve Alcala
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I just don't like this girl or her songs one bit. No clue why. Big pop music fan.

EDIT: Upon further thought I think it's how feeble and dainty she sounds. Just not my style. Too cutesy. Also, vocal runs are annoying. They're like sung out cock rock solos to me.

I agree. She has the pipes and a fantastic range but it sounds like she's intentionally singing in an airy fashion. Feeble is a good descriptor.

Nice review though Ryan
05:27 PM on 10/09/13
Jake Jenkins
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I agree. She has the pipes and a fantastic range but it sounds like she's intentionally singing in an airy fashion. Feeble is a good descriptor.

Nice review though Ryan
she isn't constantly singing in an airy fashion though. only at certain points and its done for texture, which works.
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