A year ago, Ariana Grande, whom many have compared with the elevated Mariah Carey, would say that they were similar. I could care to disagree about that comparison, probably ranking Grande severely slots lower than the diva herself. However, I will say that Yours Truly was a niche album that truly worked well for Grande's vocal range and her choices regarding the songwriting on the album itself. However, after listening to Problem and Break Free, my doubts started to crash through very blatantly, thinking of how the album was going to go from the get-go. Did she deliver on My Everything though?
The reason my doubts crashed in after Problem and Break Free, the two lead singles from the album, is very clear; both tracks don't seem to work well in Grande's favor. If you listened to her predecessor record, you would understand most of the RnB tones on that record itself, translated to effective musicals that threw boulders. Problem and Break Free, threw pebbles, expecting the average audience to dance to a jam that had worked around the bush beating it, then getting straight to the point. I'm not saying it's bad music, but Iggy Azalea and Zedd's appearances on the respective singles proved redundant. I get the selling point (Fancy by Iggy topped the charts, even though I believe Charlie XCX owned that song; Zedd is a no-brainer EDM artist) and I probably would've one-upped it and said it was actually not bad. However, on paper, they should work. But the problems seemed to stemmed outside of the circle Grande was drawing herself around.
I will say this upfront: the album will please fans in easy fashion. The reason I say this, is not because of the similarity to Yours Truly (actually, that is quite the difference), but mainly because everything about this album is just served to fans as per what they want to hear. There is Grande's vocals, there are guest spots, there are lyrics about love, there is some EDM, there is some tracks with instrumentals, and there is ultimately an album that fans can get behind of. However, among what I have just said above, in between each track, there really is nothing to support the field.
First and foremost, people are going to compare this to Yours Truly. And to those who say it is similar, let me give you the answer: it's not. The only thing that is similar is style and Ariana Grande. Nothing else. For the producers to remove the RnB section of what made Yours Truly a refreshing take on pop culture, epitomizes why sophomore albums are in fact, really hard to do. This album is going to be a mainstream success, but not all of them are going to love what is put through their speakers and headphones.
Now, you've already seen that I disagreed with the removal of the RnB portion of this new album. Why? Honeymoon Avenue, Lovin' It and Piano encapsulates that these tracks, albeit not a top-tier songs that are infinitely great, but it does show that with the RnB section genre attached to the tracks, they provide a little bit more enthusiasm, and Grande's vocals shines when it needs to. In fact, in my opinion, these are probably the best tracks she's ever done. All three tracks are from her previous album, Yours Truly. Yes, you can ultimately say tracks like Right There and The Way aren't RnB side of things, but that's before the album dropped, and I agreed: The Way was a terrible track and had the same problems I had with Problem and Break Free (Mac Miller was fine if you're thinking the problem lies with him), and Right There was also suffocated with Big Sean's feature.
Next, Grande's vocals soar as ever. Tracks like One Last Time, My Everything and Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart shows that with her vocals eventually peaking to a higher spectrum. I will go one step further and claim that One Last Time is probably the best song on the entire album. This is because Grande's solo tracks on the album provide that peaceful thought and lays on with energy. The rest of the tracks slumber through as if you just opened a door to a party already half drunk; that's how bad it is.
The features are what I have the most problems with. Every feature is a problem. Yours Truly came out with four features (Nathan Sykes and Mika owned it although Popular Song wasn't exactly Grande's, thing is 2 out of 4 ain't bad) and I'll agree, not all were likable. But when you put 7 features on an album, you expect them to contribute to the quality. And they screw it up. Half of these features could've been removed and the album wouldn't even be as bad. Zedd and Cashmere Cat; not fantastic, not bad, could've been removed. Iggy Azalea, Big Sean, Childish Gambino, A$AP Ferg; totally not needed. On one hand, I would like to say Childish Gambino was probably the best out of the lot, but all of them could've been removed and the album would have been better in my opinion. The only one that deserved to stay was The Weeknd, and that felt like a big ask! This album felt more like a risky venture because every step of the way felt like experimentation, except on a much bigger scale.
The instrumentals were also damn near shallow. I understand the emotional concepts behind tracks like My Everything with the piano ballads, but throwing in Diana Ross' I'm Coming Out on a chorus that felt messy and complicated to the song (the song was Break Your Heart Right Back) felt extremely unneeded, what was the point of putting the track in it anyway if it's not really jumping off it. Even with the piano strings attached, such as Best Mistake, the song itself was devastating to listen to. Grande's vocals were even less than sub-par on that track, and even on others like Hands on Me and Love Me Harder. I don't know if the point was to do falsettos, but that just felt like lazy vocals right there. The lyrics don't even need to be said. They are disappointing in fashion, and to think that the potential was not just dashed but erased, felt like everything could've gone out so well.
Favourite Tracks: One Last Time, Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart, My Everything
Least Favourite Tracks: Hands On Me, Best Mistake, Break Your Heart Right Back
I wanted to like this album, I really do. But going from loving Yours Truly to being 'okay' with My Everything felt almost as if wrong choices dipped Grande off the scale. Don't get me wrong, Grande is still a pop powerhouse in most cases, but if she's to return and to be taken as seriously with potential that doesn't seem to be wasted, then she should find new producers and new writers. Because these mistakes are blatant, glaring and needs to be corrected. My Everything could've flown off the hinges. But now, it's stuck because of things that shouldn't even have been there in the first place. It's a disappointing record overall.
Benny Ong: Just your regular guy who likes soccer more than most people, and also a little downtime is pretty nice.