#3 – Ariana Grande- ‘Yours Truly’
This list has been looking quite male dominated over the last few days hasn’t it? Well fear not because the album making it at number 3 on my list of the best albums of 2013 is a woman! And for anyone expecting it to be Beyonce I have to break the news to you that she isn’t the lady making it at number 3. In fact this entry is the last woman to feature on my list so that means no Beyonce at all simply because she released the album too late for me to feature it on the list. (Bey Hive Don’t attack me please!)
So which lady surpassed Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato to have not probably the best album of 2013 but the best album released by a woman in 2013? (Not including Beyonce’s late entry). Only just the little lady with the big voice Miss Ariana Grande.
A lot of you are probably thinking ‘Who the hell is this trick?!’ but remember I did say this list would feature albums by artists not everyone has heard of and for most of you this is one of them. A quick back story regarding Grande, she had a tv show on Nickelodeon called ‘Victorious, I never watched this show so don’t ask me what it was about because a 24 year old man watching Nickelodeon is too suspect even for me. She always sang whilst on the show and when the show eventually came to an end it was her natural progression to make her first debut album and voila we have her debut album titled ‘Yours Truly’.
But things aren’t that clear cut with Grande because unlike many child actors turned singers the major difference with Ariana was that she can SAAAAAAANG. And when I say SANNNNG, I mean SAAAAANG! She posses a 4 octave vocal range, basically she can hit them high notes along with a girl next door persona.
Hold on! Who else is renowned for her high notes? Yep, Mariah Carey. And comparisons between the two have been rife across the Internet since Grande posted a video of her singing Mariah’s song ‘Emotions’ to much acclaim.
So now that you’re fairly clued up on Ariana Grande, lets talk about the album and why it makes it in my top 3 of the year. The sound of the album is a complete throwback to the 90s RnB/Pop sound that I grew up listening to as a kid. It does borrow from the 1950’s and 1960s era of Motown but the main focus in 90s RnB. And I loved it.
When you think of 90s RnB you think of sexualised slow jams and the like but Ariana steers very clear from even opening that door. Its innocent, flirtatious, boy meets girl, they fall in love stuff on this album. I can only recall one slight mention at sex from Big Sean on ‘Right There’ but even that is easy to miss.
Many may say the album sounds dated and stuck in an era of music that isn’t relevant anymore, I just say 90s RnB will ALWAYS be relevant whether you like it or not. It was a breath of fresh air to have an artist pay homage to this era of music while everyone else seems content on going down the euro pop/trance route.
The production, courtesy of Baby Face , Harmony Samuels and new comers ‘The Rascals’ isn’t the only positive for this album as the slick production is complimented with Ariana’s exceptional voice. Her own distinctive delivery and lower register show that this girl has vocal chops for days. Anyone who thinks otherwise needs to watch her live performance of the Motown inspired song ‘Tattooed Heart’.
The album also featured Nathan Sykkes of ‘The Wanted’ on the track ‘Better Left Unsaid’ and she rendered him irrelevant on the entire song. This is not because she over sang but because the control and emotion she puts in such a big voice is hard not to noticed and appreciate.
And do you know what the best thing about this album is? It was released with little to no controversy attached to it. In a year which saw some of her peers rely on shock tactics to get attention, Ariana was Beyonce to that bullshit and stayed relatively low key and then released her album and let the music to the talking for her.
This album isn’t without its flaws which are so minuscule I’d hardly call them flaws. But you can tell this is a debut as it is sometimes too polished and too safe and doesn’t want to step on anyone’s toes. Also the song writing is fairly juvenile for Ariana who is 20 years old but Im going to put that down to her inexperience as she is so young.
Flaws aside, Ariana produced a very enjoyable and slick debut album. Perhaps a bit too safe at times but the album proved that she lived up to those Mariah Carey comparisons but giving us some great vocal performances. Part of me can’t help but think we have only scratched the surface with Miss Grande because I guarantee there is a lot more potential inside of her bursting to come out. With her follow up album scheduled to be released in 2014, Ariana Grande is wasting no time with her plans for world domination and I personally can’t wait.