“A little less conversation and a little more touch my body.”
If that line from Into You isn’t embedded into international consciousness by the end of the year then there’s something wrong with the world. It sums up Ariana Grande‘s appeal and potential – a feisty neo-Mariah that can trounce all over an R&B-pop beat and excite a generation.
Sadly it’s also where Grande peaks on her new album Dangerous Woman, which funnily enough could do with a little less of the conversational jams and more of the body-touching bangers. Opening with Moonlight seems like a baffling choice, it’s low-tempo cooing registering as neither sultry slow-jam nor gut-wrenching banger, and that choice is made worse by following it up with a title track that sounds about as edgy and dangerous as a baby-proofed washing-up sponge.
Annoyingly, Dangerous Woman feels like an album that likes to create needless speed-bumps when it’s happily kicking into gear. Be Alright sits up there with some of Grande’s best, but both that and Into You are sandwiched between the mediocre dancehall of Side To Side (saved by a Nicki Minaj feature) and yet more downtempo warbling on Let Me Love You. And then we’re back into banger territory with Greedy before see-sawing back to basic on Leave Me Lonely. Featuring Macy Gray. Eh?
Ariana Grande is better than what she gets and gives on Dangerous Woman. She makes that clear in the space of just a few tracks on this album, which is so confused in tone that it’s hard to love it deeply or fully. It’s rather telling that we only see her head on the sleeve of this record – only a certain part of Ariana Grande feels like it’s committed to the role of the leather-clad bombshell of a popstar, but below that we imagine she’s just in her PJs ready to turn down with some contraband donuts. Disappointing business all round.