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Sweetener (album)

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Sweetener
Sweetener album cover.png
Studio album by Ariana Grande
Released August 17, 2018 (2018-08-17)[1]
Recorded July 2016[2] – May 2018[3]
Genre
Length 47:25
Label Republic
Producer
Ariana Grande chronology
The Best
(2017)
Sweetener
(2018)
Singles from Sweetener
  1. "No Tears Left to Cry"
    Released: April 20, 2018
  2. "God Is a Woman"
    Released: July 13, 2018

Sweetener is the fourth studio album by American singer Ariana Grande. It was released on August 17, 2018, through Republic Records.[1] The album is the follow-up to her third studio album Dangerous Woman (2016), and features guest appearances from Pharrell Williams, Nicki Minaj and Missy Elliott.

The lead single, "No Tears Left to Cry", was released on April 20, 2018, and debuted at number three on the US Billboard Hot 100. "The Light Is Coming", featuring Nicki Minaj, was released as a promotional single on June 20, 2018, along with the pre-order of the album. "God Is a Woman" was released as the second single on July 13, 2018, and debuted at number 11.[6][7]

Background

On November 13, 2016, Grande stated on Snapchat that she had finished her fourth album. She later clarified by saying, "I didn't mean to make an album, and I don't know if it's done at all, but I just have a bunch of songs that I really really like. I've been working a lot and have been creating and feeling inspired."[8][9] In December 2017, she confirmed that she was still working on the album.[10]

Grande's manager Scooter Braun told Variety that the album has a more mature sound: "It's time for [Ariana] to sing the songs that define her ... Whitney, Mariah, Adele – when they sing, that's their song. Ariana has big vocal moments; it's time for her song."[11] Pharrell Williams told Los Angeles Times: "The things that [Ariana] has to say on this album, it's pretty next-level."[12] Producers Max Martin and Savan Kotecha were later confirmed to have collaborated with Grande in the album.[13] On December 28, 2017, Grande shared several pictures of her in the studio throughout the year.[14] The following week, Grande shared a snippet from the album on her Instagram, which was later revealed to be a track titled "Get Well Soon".[15]

On April 16, 2018, it was reported that Grande may move up the lead single release to April 20, 2018, due to labelmate Post Malone's album being released on April 27.[16] On April 17, 2018, Grande announced that the album's lead single, "No Tears Left to Cry", would be released on April 20, 2018.[17]

On The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Grande announced that her album would be called Sweetener. She said the meaning behind the title is "It's kind of about like bringing light to a situation, or to someone's life, or somebody else who brings light to your life, or sweetening the situation."[18] A May 2018 cover article in Time magazine by Sam Lansky notes that, for the first time with this album, Grande "took the lead on writing".[19] In late May 2018, she announced that the album would feature 15 tracks and three collaborations, which are Missy Elliott, Nicki Minaj and Pharrell Williams.[20]

In early June 2018, Grande announced at Wango Tango that the album would be available for pre-order on June 20, and "The Light Is Coming" would be released along with it.[21] The second single, "God Is a Woman", was initially scheduled to be released on July 20, 2018,[6] however, she later announced that it will be released on July 13, a week earlier.[7] Prior to the album's release, Spencer Kornhaber of The Atlantic commented that the first three singles from the album have "sparked with a sense of defiance and rattled mortality ... [a] trifecta of pseudo-spiritualism and sneaky innovation. ... Grande's music and videos radiate [intoxicating, unworried confidence]".[22]

Promotion

Grande went silent on all social media after sharing a snippet of a song from the album on December 31, 2017.[15] On April 17, 2018, Grande broke her silence by sharing a teaser of the album's lead single, "No Tears Left to Cry", which was released on April 20, 2018, alongside its music video. She first performed the song at Coachella later that night, as a guest during the performance of DJ Kygo. Grande announced the title of the album and several song titles on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on May 1, 2018, shortly before performing "No Tears Left to Cry".[23] She also opened the 2018 Billboard Music Awards with a performance of the song on May 20, 2018.[24] On June 2, 2018, Grande performed at Wango Tango in California, closing her set with a performance of "No Tears Left to Cry" and also sharing a snippet of "The Light Is Coming".[25] On August 8, 2018, three dates were announced for a series of promotional concerts in the United States, titled The Sweetener Sessions, in partnership with American Express.[26]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
SourceRating
Metacritic77/100[27]
Review scores
SourceRating
The Daily Telegraph4/5 stars[4]
The Guardian3/5 stars[28]
Idolator3.5/5[29]
The Independent3/5 stars[30]
NME4/5 stars[31]

Sweetener received generally positive from music critics. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalised rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the album has an average score of 77 based on eight reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[27]

Writing for NME, Douglas Greenwood deemed the album "[a] confident, accomplished, sometimes left-field collection of pop bangers, proving that she's not shy of experimentation." He also thought "there are a couple of songs on Sweetener that you'd happily leave on the shelf."[31] Neil McCormick in The Daily Telegraph felt that "the quality of the songs is high, although there are moments when they might be trying too hard to demonstrate that the teen queen is all grown up now," and argued, "as modern, branded, blockbuster pop albums go, Sweetener is a delightful confection." The writer, however, considered guest rappers Nicki Minaj and Missy Elliott "sound like they dialled in clichéd verses for a pay cheque."[4] For The Guardian, Alexis Petridis said, "her collaborations with Pharrell really push the boundaries. But they make the rest of this album seem formulaic." Although he considered the album "uneven" that attempts to balance the desire of a "weird" record–as Grande said, Petridis felt that "the world could use more pop music as imaginative as Sweetener's highlights."[28] Kate Solomon of The Independent concluded in her review, "often unexpected, sometimes in a good way, it is an album by an artist in flux – trying to move forward while reluctant to fully relinquish old ideas."[30]

Singles

The album's lead single, "No Tears Left to Cry", was released on April 20, 2018 alongside its music video. [17] The track debuted and peaked at number three on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Grande's ninth Hot 100 top 10 and sixth to debut in the top 10, tying Grande with Lady Gaga and Rihanna in sixth among acts with the most top 10 debuts on the chart.[32] The single made Grande the first artist in the chart's 59-year history to debut in the top 10 with lead single from each of her first four albums.[33]

The second single, "God Is a Woman", was released on July 13, 2018, with its music video premiering 12 hours after the song's release.[6][7] The single debuted at number eleven on the Hot 100.[34]

Promotional singles

A promotional single, "The Light Is Coming", featuring Nicki Minaj, was released on June 20, 2018, along with the pre-order of the album.[21] The song debuted and peaked at number 95 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Track listing

Sweetener[35][36]
No.TitleWriter(s)Producer(s)Length
1."Raindrops (An Angel Cried)"Bob Gaudio0:37
2."Blazed" (featuring Pharrell Williams)
Williams3:16
3."The Light Is Coming" (featuring Nicki Minaj)Williams3:48
4."R.E.M"WilliamsWilliams4:05
5."God Is a Woman"Ilya3:17
6."Sweetener"
  • Williams
  • Grande
Williams3:28
7."Successful"WilliamsWilliams3:47
8."Everytime"
  • Grande
  • Salmanzadeh
  • Kotecha
  • Martin
  • Martin
  • Ilya
2:52
9."Breathin"
Ilya3:18
10."No Tears Left to Cry"
  • Grande
  • Martin
  • Kotecha
  • Salmanzadeh
  • Martin
  • Ilya
3:25
11."Borderline" (featuring Missy Elliott)Williams2:57
12."Better Off"
2:51
13."Goodnight n Go"
  • Brown
  • Anderson
  • Foster
3:09
14."Pete Davidson"
  • Grande
  • Brown
  • Anderson
  • McCants
  • Brown
  • Anderson
1:13
15."Get Well Soon"
  • Williams
  • Grande
Williams5:22
Total length:47:25

Notes

Personnel

Credits adapted from the liner notes of Sweetener.[40]

Performers and musicians

Production

  • Charles Anderson – production (13-14)
  • Brian Malik Baptiste – production (12)
  • Cory Bice – recording engineer assistant (1, 8-10)
  • Scooter Braun – executive production
  • Tommy Brown – production (12-14)
  • Andrew Coleman – recording (2, 4, 6-7, 11), digital editing (2, 4, 6-7, 11), arrangement (2, 4, 6-7, 11)
  • Kris Crawford – recording assistant (3)
  • Thomas Cullison – recording assistant (2, 6-7, 11, 15)
  • Aubrey "Big Juice" Delaine – vocals recording (3)
  • Jacob Dennis – recording engineer assistant (3, 6)
  • Scott Desmarais – mix assistant (3)
  • Corte Ellis – recording (11)
  • Missy Elliott – recording (11)
  • Iain Findlay – recording assistant (6)
  • Robin Florent – mix assistant (3)
  • Michael Foster – production (13)
  • Chris Galland – mix assistant (3)
  • Serban Ghenea – mixing (5, 8-14)
  • Ariana Grande – executive production
  • Hart Gunther – recording assistant (7)
  • John Hanes – mix assistant (5, 8-14)
  • Hit-Boy – production (12)
  • Sam Holland – recording (1, 8-10)
  • Chris Khan – recording assistant (6)
  • David Kim – recording assistant (6)
  • Mike Larson – recording (2-4, 6-7, 11, 15), digital editing (2-4, 6-7, 11, 15), arrangement (2-4, 6-7, 11, 15), additional programming (3-4)
  • Guillermo Lefeld – recording assistant (4)
  • Jeremy Lertola – recording engineer assistant (1, 8-10)
  • Manny Marroquin – mixing (3)
  • Max Martin – production (1, 8, 10), programming (8, 10)
  • Randy Merrill – mastering
  • Brendan Morawski – recording engineer assistant (3)
  • Manny Park – recording assistant (3)
  • Noah Passovoy – recording (9)
  • Ramon Rivas – recording engineer assistant (3)
  • Ilya Salmanzadeh – production (1, 5, 8-10), mixing (1), programming (5, 8-10)
  • Ben "Bengineer" Sedano – recording assistant (2-3, 6, 11)
  • Jon Sher – recording assistant (4)
  • Phil Tan – mixing (2, 4, 6-7, 11, 15)
  • Pharrell Williams – production (2-4, 6-7, 11, 15)
  • Bill Zimmerman – additional engineering (2, 4, 6-7, 11, 15)

Design and management

  • Michael Alexander – international marketing
  • Jackie Augustus – digital marketing
  • Rachel Bisdee – international marketing
  • Scooter Braun – management
  • Donna Cryn – marketing
  • Wendy Goldstein – A&R
  • Tim Hryeyshyn – digital marketing
  • Kenneth Jarvis III – A&R coordination
  • Allison Kaye – management
  • Scott Marcus – management
  • Dave Meyers – photography
  • Aaron Rosenberg – legal representation
  • Jessica Severn – art direction, design
  • Brian Sutnick – international marketing

References

  1. ^ a b "Ariana Grande Taps Nicki Minaj for New Song "The Light Is Coming": Listen". Pitchfork. 2018-06-20. Retrieved June 20, 2018. 
  2. ^ "Ariana Grande on Twitter". Retrieved June 7, 2018 – via Twitter. 
  3. ^ "Ariana Grande on Twitter". Retrieved June 7, 2018 – via Twitter. 
  4. ^ a b c McCormick, Neil (August 17, 2018). "Ariana Grande, Sweetener review: Out of the darkness came sweetness". The Telegraph. Retrieved August 17, 2018. 
  5. ^ Leight, Elias (August 17, 2018). "Ariana Grande's 'Sweetener' Proves That Trap Is the New Pop". Rolling Stone. Retrieved August 18, 2018. 
  6. ^ a b c "Ariana Grande on Twitter". Retrieved July 12, 2018 – via Twitter. 
  7. ^ a b c Tornow, Sam (July 12, 2018). "Ariana Grande Pushes 'God Is A Woman' Release Date Up: 'Surprise'". Billboard. 
  8. ^ "Ariana Grande Is Already Working On Her Fourth Album". Idolator. 13 November 2016. 
  9. ^ "Ariana Grande's Been So 'Inspired' That She Already Made Her Next Album". MTV. 
  10. ^ Rice, Nicholas (December 15, 2017). "Ariana Grande Confirms She's Working On Her Fourth Studio Album". Billboard. 
  11. ^ "From Ariana to Watt: Catching Up With Scooter Braun's 20 Clients as SB Projects Turns 10". November 22, 2017. 
  12. ^ Diderich, Joelle (November 22, 2017). "Pharrell Williams' latest Adidas Originals collaboration is a super-exclusive pair of co-branded Chanel kicks". Los Angeles Times. 
  13. ^ Aswad, Jem (9 April 2018). "Ariana Grande to Drop First Single From New Album on April 27". 
  14. ^ "Is Ariana Grande Collaborating With Aretha Franklin? - MTV UK". MTV. 
  15. ^ a b Grande, Ariana (December 31, 2017). "See you next year" – via Instagram. 
  16. ^ "Ariana Grande's New Single "No Tears Left to Cry" Arrives On April 20 (Update)". Headline Planet. 16 April 2018. 
  17. ^ a b "Ariana Grande Announces New Song 'No Tears Left to Cry' Out Friday". Billboard. 
  18. ^ "Ariana Grande Dishes On New Album 'Sweetener' as She Takes Over 'The Tonight Show'". Billboard. May 2, 2018. Retrieved May 4, 2018. 
  19. ^ Lansky, Sam (May 17, 2018). "Ariana Grande Is Ready to Be Happy". Time. 
  20. ^ "fifteen ☁️". May 29, 2018 – via Twitter. 
  21. ^ a b Criswell, Josh (June 2, 2018). "Ariana Grande Reveals 'Sweetener' Album Pre-Order Date". iHeartRadio. Retrieved June 3, 2018. 
  22. ^ Kornhaber, Spencer. "What Is Ariana Grande Doing?", The Atlantic, July 18, 2018
  23. ^ Blais-Billie, Braudie; Minsker, Evan (May 1, 2018). "Watch Ariana Grande Cover Kendrick in the Style of Evanescence on "Fallon"". Pitchfork. 
  24. ^ Kaufman, Gil (May 20, 2018). "Ariana Grande Opens the Billboard Music Awards With Fiery Performance of 'No Tears Left to Cry'". Billboard. 
  25. ^ "Ariana Grande Performs 'The Light is Coming' for the First Time Live: Watch". Billboard. Retrieved June 3, 2018. 
  26. ^ Thompson, Rita (August 8, 2018). "Ariana Grande Announces Intimate 'Sweetener Sessions' in New York City, Los Angeles & Chicago". Billboard. Retrieved August 9, 2018. 
  27. ^ a b "Reviews for Sweetener by Ariana Grande". Metacritic. Retrieved August 17, 2018. 
  28. ^ a b Petridis, Alexis. "Ariana Grande: Sweetener review – pop's ponytailed paragon gets weird". The Guardian. 
  29. ^ "Album Review: Ariana Grande's 'Sweetener'". Idolator. 
  30. ^ a b "Ariana Grande, Sweetener review: A portrait of an artist in flux". The Independent. 
  31. ^ a b "Ariana Grande – 'Sweetener' review". NME. 
  32. ^ Zellner, Xander (April 30, 2018). "Ariana Grande Scores 9th Billboard Hot 100 Top 10 With 'No Tears Left to Cry'". Billboard. Retrieved June 4, 2018. 
  33. ^ Trust, Gary (April 30, 2018). "Drake Leads Billboard Hot 100, Ariana Grande Arrives at No. 3 & J. Cole Collects Record Three Debuts in Top 10". Billboard. Retrieved June 4, 2018. 
  34. ^ Trust, Gary (July 16, 2018). "Drake's 'In My Feelings' Tops Billboard Hot 100 for Second Week With Record-Breaking 116.2 Million U.S. Streams". billboard. Retrieved July 23, 2018. 
  35. ^ Sweetener (booklet). Ariana Grande. New York City: Republic Records. 2018. B002881502. 
  36. ^ "Sweetener by Ariana Grande". Tidal. Canada. Retrieved August 17, 2018. 
  37. ^ "アリアナ・グランデ『Sweetener』特設サイト". Universal Music Japan. Retrieved August 17, 2018. 
  38. ^ "アリアナ・グランデ『Sweetener』特設サイト". Universal Music Japan. Retrieved August 17, 2018. 
  39. ^ Farley, Rebecca (May 2, 2018). "Everything We Know About Ariana Grande's New Album Sweetener". Refinery29. Retrieved August 18, 2018. 
  40. ^ Sweetener (Media notes). Ariana Grande. Republic Records. 2018.