17 Amazing Things in “Sweetener”

Ariana Grande’s new album is a masterpiece, and I’ve pinpointed 17 of the moments that make it incredible

17 Amazing Things in Sweetener

Mira Bohannan Kumar, Web & Copy Editor

  1. All, all, all of the vocal work in “raindrops (an angel cried).” I’m talking the runs, the vibrato, the way her voice catches on the c in the first “cried” (an an-gel c-ried), and, of course, the blast of a high note at the end.
  2. The fact that (and this is true) the loop of the man’s voice in “the light is coming” is actually an angry constituent yelling at Sen. Arlen Specter.
  3. “Now you benched, aww, your bum knee / Now I’m the bad guy, call me Chun-Li”–this verse is the peak of human existence. We’ve reached it, we’ve mounted it, and now we’re looking down from it, trying to understand how we got here (Nicki Minaj) and where we’re going (also Nicki Minaj).
  4. The brief pause between “That’s the bottom line” and the first “know-it-all.”
  5. The rhyme schemes of “throw/know/glow i/at all.”
  6. You can absolutely tell that a lot of the backing tracks in “R.E.M” were intended for a Beyonce song, and hearing Ari sing material written for Beyonce is unexpected and fantastic.
  7. “Before you speak, don’t move, ‘cause I don’t wanna–” leading into the chorus has a stunning melody.
  8. The choir-esque backing at the final chorus of “God is a woman.”
  9. “I’m so successful” chipping itself in behind the main chorus of “successful.”
  10. “It’s like something out of Shakespeare / because I’m really not here when you’re not there” in “everytime” has the kind of phrasing and rhythm that makes the line hit like the Bard gave it his blessing. Excuse me while I Google whether this song is written in iambic pentameter…
  11. The vibrato and high breathiness in “breathin” makes the whole song, really, about Ariana’s respiration. I don’t know whether this was intentional, but its effects are massively potent, connecting the song’s metaphorical subject matter with its style. It unifies the piece.
  12. The first “yuh” in “no tears left to cry,” because while it’s not the first “yuh” in the album, “no tears left to cry” was the first single off “Sweetener,” so it’s the first time I ever heard that iconic sound. *presses hands to heart*
  13. “Steering clear of any headaches to start / and if we’re being honest” and later, “I never let him know too much / hate getting too emotional” sing a lullaby of resignation that boosts “better off” through its melancholy, bittersweet harmonies and quiet, dignified phrasing.
  14. Every melody in “goodnight ‘n’ go,” especially the end with its monumental resolution.
  15. “pete davidson” is brazen, and perfectly encapsulates the ridiculous–and miraculous, or so it seems–temerity of her relationship with its eponymous comedian.
  16. The bells, and the vocal runs, in “get well soon,” which is simultaneously an uplifting, uplifted “hug musically,” to quote Ariana herself, and a testimonial where Ariana opens up with her grief over the shooting at her concert last year.
  17. The harmonies in the final song, the backing tracks–just Ari’s voice layered over and over again–with their “woo!”s and easy blending, the way that those voices lie peaceful under one another, sounds like a bridge built with every note, stretching out to you through time and space, like Ariana’s hand when she plays God at the end of the “God is a woman” music video, reaching to every listener, fingers nearly brushing. She’s naming us all her treasured Eve.