Yours Truly (Ariana Grande album)

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Yours Truly
Studio album by Ariana Grande
Released August 30, 2013 (2013-08-30)
Recorded
  • 2011 – June 2013 at:
    • Brandon's Way Recording Studios
    • London Bridge Studios
    • The Power House Studios
    • The Lair
    • Rocket Carousel Studios
    • Armoury Studios
Genre
Length
  • 46:28
Label Republic
Producer
Ariana Grande chronology
  • Yours Truly
  • (2013)
Singles from Yours Truly
  1. "The Way"
    Released: March 26, 2013 (2013-03-26)
  2. "Baby I"
    Released: July 22, 2013 (2013-07-22)
  3. "Right There"
    Released: August 6, 2013 (2013-08-06)

Yours Truly is the debut studio album by American recording artist Ariana Grande. Formerly titled Daydreamin', the album was released on August 30, 2013 through Republic Records. Incorporating R&B, pop and soul, Yours Truly was influenced by Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, Christina Aguilera and Mariah Carey amongst other of Grande's idols. Grande describes the album's first half as a "throwback" to the R&B music of the 1990s, and the second half being "very unique and very special that I've sort of written" which is completely original. The album's physical copy features a twelve-track standard edition, while the digital copy features the Spanglish version of "The Way" as a bonus track. On the album, Grande co-wrote six out of the thirteen tracks.

Grande called upon the likes of Harmony Samuels, Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Patrick "J. Que" Smith and Leon Thomas III as well as others, to handle production for the album. Grande recorded a number of songs for the album over a three year period. Amongst those included are collaborations with Big Sean, Mika and Mac Miller, in addition to The Wanted's Nathan Sykes, who features on the song "Almost is Never Enough" which was also included on the The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones soundtrack. Occasionally, the album dips into other genres such as adult contemporary and dance music.

Yours Truly was promoted with live renditions of the album's songs during The Listening Sessions Tour. The album was also preceded by the release of the lead single, a Harmony Samuels production called "The Way" which peaked in the top-ten of the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart at number nine. The song also features American rapper Mac Miller. A second single, "Baby I", was released a month before the album and is a confession on Grande's behalf admitting a special love for someone and how she can't formulate her strong feelings into words. The song peaked just outside the top-twenty of Billboard Hot 100 chart at number twenty-one. The third and final single "Right There" featuring Big Sean was released on August 6, 2013 and peaked at number 84 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Upon its release, the album received general acclaim from music critics, with much praise going to her vocals, with critics comparing them to Mariah Carey, and her throwback to 1990s R&B music. Yours Truly debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard 200 selling 138,000 copies in its opening week, becoming Grande's first number-one album as a solo artist. This made Grande the first female artist to have their debut record in the peak position since Animal by Kesha in January 2010, and the fifteenth female artist overall.

Background and conception[edit]

"They can expect a lot of honesty. It's like a direct... you know, it's like it used to be pages from my diary, instead of keeping diary, I would write songs about what was happening in my life. So it's really personal. It's a Motown throwback and pop at the same time, so it's '50s and '60s inspiration mixed with today."

 — Grande, on the album.[1]

Yours Truly is the result of three years of work.[2] The project underwent significant conceptual and sonic changes throughout that time. Grande began working on the album in August 2010 while she was filming Victorious and formally started to work on it with a record label after she was signed to Republic Records on August 10, 2011.[3][4][5] By September 10 of that year, Grande already had twenty songs prepared and was going through the process of narrowing it down to thirteen.[6] The first single, a bubblegum pop song called "Put Your Hearts Up", was released on December 12, 2011.[7] The single was aimed at young audiences, perhaps intending to cater to Grande's core audience, which at that time was almost entirely made up by kids who knew her from Victorious. During an interview in June 2012, Grande described everything on the album as being "50s, 60s doo-wop-inspired" and revealed that two new singles were going to be released before the album, one of which was called "Do You Love Me?" and featured SkyBlu.[8] Other songs that Grande had named (and later leaked) as being part of the album included "Honeymoon Avenue",[9] "Voodoo Love",[10] "Pink Champagne",[11] "Boyfriend Material",[12] "You're My Only Shorty",[13] "Tattooed Heart",[14] and "Daydreamin'".[15]

In early 2013, Grande met up with her label and expressed dissatisfaction with the direction the album was taking. In several interviews during 2013, she admitted to having completely disliked her debut single "Put Your Hearts Up" and not having an interest in pursuing music of that genre.[16] She expressed a desire to make the type of music she grew up listening to, which was, "urban pop, 90s music."[17] The album was originally titled Daydreamin and set to be released during August 2013.[18]

The album is inspired by a variety of different artists, ranging from Amy Winehouse and Christina Aguilera to Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston.[1] Grande describes the album's first half is a "throwback" to the R&B music of the 1990s, and the second half is she describes as "something that is very unique and very special that I've sort of written" which is completely original. In summation of the record she stated: "So half of it is a throwback and like very familiar feeling, feel-good, and then half of it is something that I've created that's sort of special and unique and refreshing and wonderful and I love it".[19]

Release and promotion[edit]

To promote her debut single "The Way", Grande visited various radio stations, including: Y-100 Miami,[20] 93.3 FM,[21] Z100,[22] KIIS-FM,[23] and 99–7 Now.[24] Grande performed "The Way" at several concerts produced for Top 40 radio stations, including KIIS-FM's Wango Tango concert on May 11, 2013 in Los Angeles,[25] 101.3 KDWB's Star Party concert on May 17 in Minneapolis,[26] Kiss 108's Kiss Concert 2013 event on May 18 in Boston,[27] 103.3 AMP Radio's Birthday Bash concert on June 30 also in Boston,[28] and Mix 93.3's Red White & Boom concert on July 5 in Kansas City.[29] Her first televised performance of the song was aired on May 29, 2013 on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.[30]

On August 1, 2013, Grande revealed the official artwork for Yours Truly, which features her kneeling on a bed of roses in front of a pink background. Due to fan criticism, she quickly unveiled a new cover, which simply featured the singer standing beneath a spotlight in a black and white image.[31] On August 7, 2013, Grande revealed the official track listing via iTunes, and Republic Records made pre-orders for the album available.[32] A music video for "Almost is Never Enough" a duet with The Wanted's Nathan Sykes premiered online on Vevo on August 19 to promote the film The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. The track is featured on the film's official soundtrack. The album version of the track is two minutes longer and has been slightly altered.[33] It debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 84.[34] "Popular Song" featuring Grande was released on 21 December 2012 as a single from Mika's third studio album, The Origin of Love. The album version of the song features vocals from the original songwriter, Priscilla Renea, and contains expletives. However, the single version removes Renea and replaces her with Grande, removing the expletives.

Grande performed "The Way" at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards' Preshow on August 25, 2013.[35] During the album's release week Grande also performed "The Way" with Mac Miller on the Today Show along with "Tattooed Heart" on September 3, 2013,[36][37] she also performed the latter at the 2013 Style Awards on September 4, 2013.[38][39] Grande also made several other appearances throughout the week appearing on Live! with Kelly and Michael, The Today Show and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, where she performing an acoustic version of "The Way" .[40]

The Listening Sessions[edit]

Grande embarked on her first solo concert tour titled The Listening Sessions in support of Yours Truly.[41][42] Pre-sale tickets went on sale on July 18, 2013. Regular tickets went on sale on July 19. Pre-sale tickets had to be taken down early, as they were selling at such a fast rate that the tour was almost sold before regular tickets were available.[43] Grande also was the opening act for the last three US dates of Justin Bieber's Believe Tour. The performances took place in Jacksonville, Tampa, and Atlanta on August 7, August 8, and August 10 in support of the album.[44]

Singles[edit]

"The Way" was released to digital retailers through Republic Records in the United States on March 26, 2013 as the album's official lead single. It was written by the song's producer Harmony Samuels, alongside Amber Streeter, Al Sherrod Lambert, Jordin Sparks, Brenda Russell and Mac Miller, who is also featured in the song. Seven hours after its release on the iTunes Store, "The Way" topped its "Top Singles" chart. It was both a critical and commercial success debuting at number ten on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, becoming Grande and Miller's first top ten success on the chart.[45] This made Ariana the first top 10 arrival for a lead female artist making her first Hot 100 appearance since Yael Naim, who launched with "New Soul" back in 2008. The song later peaked at number 9 on the Billboard Hot 100. "The Way" sold over 120,000 units in the first 48 hours.[46] Having sold over 219,000 units in its opening week, "The Way" holds the third best-selling first-week sales figure of 2013 behind Justin Timberlake's "Suit & Tie" and One Direction's "Best Song Ever".[47] The song received a double Platinum certification from the RIAA.[48]

"Baby I" was released to digital retailers by Republic Records on July 22, 2013, as the second single from the album. It was written and produced by Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, Antonio Dixon and Patrick "J. Que" Smith. The song sold 141,000 copies in its first week and debuted at number 21 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, her second top 40 hit.[49] It also debuted at number 6 on the Hot Digital Songs chart, making Grande the only woman to debut two songs in the top ten on the Digital Songs chart during the year 2013.[50] Filming for the song's music video took place July 28–29, 2013. Grande hinted that the video would "travel" back to the 1990s and that there would be "lots of color" and "lots of baggy clothes."[51]

"Right There", featuring rapper Big Sean, was released to digital retailers by Republic Records on August 6, 2013,[52] as the third and final single from the album. It was written by Grande, Carmen Reece, J. "Lonny" Bereal, James J-Doe Smith, Myron Birdsong, Trey Starxx, Al Sherrod Lambert, Sean Anderson, Jeff Lorber, and Harmony Samuels who also handled the song's production. "Right There" debuted on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 at number 84.[53] It was then serviced to rhythmic contemporary radio on September 10, 2013.[54]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Source Rating
Metacritic 81/100[55]
Review scores
Source Rating
AbsolutePunk 70%[56]
AllMusic 4/5 stars[57]
Billboard 86/100 [58]
Digital Spy 4/5 stars[59]
Entertainment Weekly A-[60]
Los Angeles Times 3/4 stars[61]
The Michigan Daily B[62]
New York Daily News 3/5 stars[63]
Pitchfork 6.5/10[64]
PopMatters 8/10 discs[65]

Upon its release, Yours Truly was met with critical acclaim from music critics. According to Metacritic, where they assign a weighted average score out of 100 to ratings and reviews from mainstream critics, the album received an average of 81, based on 9 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim".[55] At AllMusic, Matt Collar rated the album four stars out of five, saying that Yours Truly was "surprisingly sophisticated and unique" which showcases Grande's soulful R&B vocals. He stated that the album often "brings to mind the intonations of Mariah Carey which are most likely intentional." Collar closed the statement saying that Yours Truly "makes the most of her talent."[57] Nick Catucci of Entertainment Weekly graded the album an A-, calling the album "pure pop bliss" and "one of the most purely enjoyable albums of the year" that is powered by her "lithe, Broadway-honed voice".[60] At The New York Times, Jon Caramanica gave a positive review of the album, writing that television shows such a American Idol and Glee "have been responsible for an intense surge of interest in music on television, but they haven’t left much of a mark on the shape of pop. That’s because both shows are fundamentally conservative institutions, privileging the familiar and the unchallenging. They’re about emulating, not innovating."[66] Caramanica commended Grande for becoming the first "identifiable pop star" who takes the "rules of those enterprises, uses them as a foundation, and innovates atop them... She uses the "Glee"/"Idol" template as a jumping-off point to make modern pop-R&B with a sturdy vintage backbone."[66]

Writing in his track-by-track review Jason Lipshutz from Billboard rated the album an eighty-six out of 100, saying that "Yours Truly carries the expectations of a young singer who has already proven herself on the pop charts, and even if the songs on her debut could not equal the quality of "The Way," Grande had the fan base and powerful pipes to survive a misfire."[58] At PopMatters, Scott Interrante rated the album eight discs out of ten, writing that "Minor missteps aside, Yours Truly is ultimately an impressive debut for Grande."[65] Ryan Dennehy of AbsolutePunk rated the album a 70-percent, stating that "Yours Truly is more tempered and less likely to put you in a beaming state of catatonia" that is "a missive containing some of her most personal thoughts and her oft-regrettable youthful impulses."[56] At Pitchfork, Andrew Ryce rated the album a 6.5 out of ten, calling it "a very safe record."[64] Lewis Conner of Digital Spy rated the album four stars out of five, writing how "The production feels fresh, the lyrics are relatable and the melodies are as cool and sweet as a dollop of raspberry ripple", and where he also states that "The tone and pace of the album rarely changes, but the songs feel accomplished, polished and vibrant". Corner concluded by calling "Yours Truly" a "little less than a triumph."[59] At The Michigan Daily, Gregory Hicks graded the album a B, saying "most tracks are of quality composition, lyrically and melodically, but beat usage becomes excessive at times."[62] Jim Farber of The New York Daily News rated the album three stars out of five, stating that because the "armies of song doctors" that the release is "far more tuneful than Mariah’s interchangeable hits."[63]

Commercial performance[edit]

On September 4, 2013, Billboard reported that Yours Truly would most likely sell between 110,000 to 120,000 copies in its first week in the United States by the end of September 11, 2013.[67] After Yours Truly was released, the album went to number 1 on the iTunes Store charts in over 30 countries, including the United States, where it reached number 1 in 19 minutes.[68] Yours Truly officially debuted atop the US Billboard 200 albums chart with 138,000 copies sold in its first week, becoming Grande's first number-one album as a solo artist.[69][70] This made Grande the fifteenth female artist and the first female artist to have their first album debut atop of the charts since January 2010, when Kesha's Animal opened at No. 1.[71][72] Grande's sales were especially strong digitally, as 108,000 of her first-week sales were from digital downloads, while the album sold 30,000 copies through physical sales.[73] In its second week, the album dropped eight places to number nine selling 31,000 more copies, bringing its total sales in the United States to 169,000.[74][75] As of June 2014, the album has sold 452,000 copies in the United States.[76]

Yours Truly also debuted in the top ten in several other countries, including Australia where it debuted at number six,[77] the UK where it debuted at number seven,[78] Ireland where it debuted at number six,[79] and the Netherlands where it debuted at number five.[80] It also debuted just outside the top ten on New Zealand's top 40 albums chart at number eleven.[81]

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Producer(s) Length
1. "Honeymoon Avenue"  
  • Edmonds
  • Dixon
  • The Rascals
5:39
2. "Baby I"  
  • Edmonds
  • Dixon
  • The Rascals
3:17
3. "Right There" (featuring Big Sean)
4:07
4. "Tattooed Heart"  
  • Riddick-Tynes
  • Thomas III
  • Dixon
  • Edmonds
  • Matt Squire
  • Grande
  • Sean Foreman
  • Edmonds
  • Dixon
  • The Rascals
3:14
5. "Lovin' It"  
  • Edmonds
  • Dixon
  • The Rascals
3:00
6. "Piano"  
3:54
7. "Daydreamin'"  
  • Squire
  • Brown
  • McCants
  • Squire
  • Brown
3:31
8. "The Way" (featuring Mac Miller)
3:47
9. "You’ll Never Know"  
  • Riddick-Tynes
  • Thomas III
  • Edmonds
  • Dixon
  • Edmonds
  • Dixon
  • The Rascals
3:34
10. "Almost Is Never Enough" (with Nathan Sykes of The Wanted)
  • H. Samuels
  • Culver
  • Lambert
  • M. Samuels
  • Akinkunmi
  • Grande
5:28
11. "Popular Song" (with Mika)
3:20
12. "Better Left Unsaid"  
  • H. Samuels
  • Courtney Harrell
  • Lambert
  • M. Samuels
  • Akinkunmi
  • Grande
3:32
Total length:
46:28
Notes

Credits[edit]

Adapted from Allmusic and album liner notes.[57][84]

Recording locations[edit]

Personnel[edit]

Technical credits

Charts[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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