Ariana Grande’s career started out with a Nickelodeon show. However, she was focused on becoming a musician from the start. Grande’s journey towards that end wasn’t exactly smooth. Even so, she managed to release her debut studio album Yours Truly in 2013. Since then, she has gone on to release five other studio albums, thus making it very clear that she has managed to make it in her chosen career.
6. Yours Truly
As mentioned earlier, Yours Truly was Grande’s debut studio album. However, it is interesting to note that its production process seems to have been rather complicated. For starters, Grande started work in August of 2010 but wasn’t able to release it until August of 2013. Furthermore, her debut single Put Your Hearts Up was bubblegum pop. A music genre that she outright stated that she had no interest in even before Yours Truly had managed to come out. Instead, Grande wanted to make something reminiscent of the musicians who inspired her, with the result that some of the songs on the album took clear inspiration from 1990s pop and 1990s R&B as well as other music genres from even earlier decades. On the whole, Yours Truly had some catchy songs that stand up well even in the present time. Unfortunately, it has a couple of issues. One, it failed to consistently meet that same level of quality, meaning that some of its songs are much more forgettable. Two, it took too much inspiration in some places, meaning that Grande didn’t distinguish herself on it as much as she would on her later releases.
5. My Everything
Music changes on a constant basis. As such, the ability to change is an asset rather than a liability for musicians. This can be seen in how a lot of musicians stumble when it comes to their second releases because they try to imitate their initial success, which ignores how chances are good that the conditions of the music industry at that time have already changed. Having said that, My Everything is a good example of how matters are more complicated than what the previous sentence made them seem. For starters, Grande didn’t make the rookie mistake of trying to imitate the success of Yours Truly. Instead, she and her team examined the latest trends at the time before proceeding to make an album targeted at those trends. Their work was quite good, as shown by how My Everything went on to become one of the most popular albums of the 2010s. The issue is that it is a bit too targeted at those trends. Something that has caused it to lose some of its potential personality while also making it sound more dated than it could have been. Still, My Everything was clear evidence of Grande’s ability to grow as an artist.
Positions is Grande’s latest studio album. Due to this, it is the product of a very different artist from the one who got started in the mid 2010s. In any case, Positions built upon its predecessors. As always, Grande’s vocals are very good. Moreover, they are very smooth here, which combined well with the general cohesiveness of the album. If there is a flaw with Positions, it would be the fact that it is too smooth. Essentially, Grande didn’t take a lot of risks on it. As such, it makes for very pleasant listening, but it lacks the highlights needed to put it in a higher position.
Sweetener is Grande’s fourth studio album that came out in August of 2018. Context-wise, this means that it came out after the bombing of Manchester Arena after one of her concerts, which killed 22 people and injured 1,017 people. Grande is noted for having been devastated by the whole event, as shown by how she suspended her tour before flying to her mother’s home. Later, she and other high-profile artists held One Love Manchester, which proceeded to raise millions of pounds for the victims. Under those circumstances, it would have been understandable if Grande had decided to retreat to something tried and true for her new release. Instead, she made a point of emphasizing resiliency before proceeding to make one of her most experimental albums. Primarily, Sweetener is a mix of pop, R&B, and trap. However, it is notable for incorporating a wide range of other influences that include but are not limited to funk, house, and neo soul. There is a reason that it is considered one of the more notable releases of the decade.
2. Dangerous Woman
There was a time when Grande was much better-known for being a Nickelodeon TV star than a musician. She emerged from it. However, it took time for her to do so. By the release of Dangerous Woman in 2016, it was clear that the process was complete. Grande’s personality emerged in full on this album whereas it had been more muted in its two predecessors. Moreover, Dangerous Woman enabled her to show off the versatility of her vocal skill, thus making for a stronger impression than otherwise possible. Combined, these two things ensure that said album will be one of Grande’s most memorable releases even in the times still to come.
1. Thank U, Next
Different artists have different strengths. However, an artist’s strength can become even stronger still. Thank U, Next earns the highest position on this list because it manages to combine every single one of Grande’s strengths – her vocals, her lyrics, and her instinct for catchy hooks – into a seamless whole that serves as the epitome of her career thus far. Not every song on this album manages to hit the same heights, but even the ones that don’t get there remain competitive with the rest of Grande’s work as well as the rest of the field. Something that is no mean accomplishment.