Album Review: Ariana Grande ‘Yours Truly’

Ariana Grande's 'Yours Truly' Album Cover
Ariana Grande’s ‘Yours Truly’ Album Cover

If history has taught us anything it is that when actresses from children’s TV shows make the transition to singer it is normally an album full of run of the mill pop/rock songs whose main demographic are 8-16 year old girls. But Nickelodeon’s Ariana Grande who starred in ‘Victorious’ has become somewhat an exception to the rule.

Grande, whose debut album ‘Yours Truly’, was released this week is the name of everyone’s lips at the moment. Easily the most talented and skilled singer to come from the Disney/Nickelodeon hive of child stars, Ariana Grande  built up quite the following since her cover of Mariah Carey’s ‘Emotions’ surfaced online. Notoriously a hard song to sing for anyone who isn’t Carey, Grande did the song justice and an easy as that comparisons between the two started and don’t show any sign of slowing down anytime soon.

I’ll be honest with you lot, initially I didn’t care much for Ariana Grande and I’m kind of late to the party in terms of her fandom. I only heard her cover of ‘Emotions’ last month and never once watched her TV show. I mean I’m sure a 24 year old Asian Male isn’t exactly the show’s target audience but hey. I only started paying attention to her once her lead single ‘The Way’ ft Mac Miller  was released. I instantly liked the song and its purely based of curiosity that I’ve listened to her album in its entirety and  I’m happy to say I was pleasantly surprised by this album!

By no means a groundbreaking or an entirely original album, ‘Yours Truly’ makes for a pretty good listen if what you want is just simple Pop/RnB music. The lead single ‘The Way’ was a great lead single as it really embodies the while sound of the album and very few songs stray far away from the lead single’s formula. This is most noticeable on ‘Right There’ ft Big Sean which sounds pretty much the same as ‘The Way’ but it is a wining formula so why rock the boat?

Elsewhere on the album little Ariana belts and whistle notes effortlessly through some seriously catchy melodies. My personal favourites on the album is ‘Lovin’ It’ This song just takes me back to those early 90s/00’s years of music and is a welcomed blast from the past. Especially as the current sound on the radio is mainly EDM or Nicki Minaj and her odd sounds. I found myself humming this song even before it ended and perhaps I am showing my age here but I miss hearing this style of music on the radio. So thank you Ariana for that!

Considering her strong voice I am surprised there is only one ballad on the album but Im getting the idea that her team made this decision deliberately as Ariana does really excel on more uptempo tracks. The only ballad ‘Almost Is Never Enough’ features  Nathan Sykes from UK boy band The Wanted and his inclusion was definitely used in order to raise her profile here in the UK. The song itself is nice enough, not my favourite but shows that vocally Ariana Grande has A LOT of potential.

Now after hearing the album lets address the big elephant room here; Is Ariana Grande copying Mariah Carey? Yes and No. On some songs you can really hear Ariana give her best Mariah Carey style vocal run especially on ‘Baby I’ but at the same time these Mariah Carey comparisons are getting quite tired now and the fact that Grande has openly welcomed them herself at least lets us the music buying public know that she is aware of what is being said and takes it on board. And who made up this rule that ONLY Mariah Carey can use whistle notes in her songs? I can’t help but feel some ‘LAMBS’ (I think thats what Mariah’s fans are called) are too possessive over that one little bit of vocal acrobatics. Come on people! Mariah isn’t the ONLY one who can hit them high notes!

On the other hand Ariana doesn’t possess the writing skills of Carey and it can be seen on this album because most of the songs are about the same topic; Love. And even then the songs tend to gloss over the standard ideas of love without acknowledging some of the darker aspects of love which is sure to please many Mothers of teenage girls. Also to Mariah Carey’s credit she knows how to put emotion into her songs and one thing that Grande’s album lacks is emotion. Yeah sure she is singing about love but it left me wondering has she really experienced life, loss and heartbreak?

For a debut album, Ariana  Grande has done a good job on introducing herself to the public and the songs all scream Top 40 radio but quite interestingly Grande’s RnB/Pop fusion has greater appeal than the tween nation. Im 24 and love this album. It isn’t cheesy or geared primarily towards little girls. Unlike the Disney starlets that have come before her, Ariana has credible music. And I personally love this throwback to Pop/RnB which I grew up listening to when I was a kid.

My only issue is that this album does little to give Ariana Grande an identity amongst her peers and because the album isn’t completely original sonically speaking I just worry that these Mariah Carey comparisons will continue long after this album. But I am willing to give her the benefit of the doubt that this is her very first album and playing it safe normally comes with the territory for new artists.  And besides the fact that this album is on top of album charts across the world right now is a good indication that Ariana Grande the singer has arrived.

Ariana shows a lot of promise and could have a lasting music career if she is allowed to put her own stamp on her music the second time around but for a first go I’d say she has done pretty well with a solid collection of breezy Pop/RnB songs which are sure to stick in your head hours after listening to them. And personally this album is a nice way to bring Summer 2013 to a close before the impending pop takeover by Lady GaGa/Katy Perry/Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake gets underway this Autumn.


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