Ariana Grande – My Everything // Ranked. [Pop Girl Week]

She’s the biggest new force of pop music in the 2010s. She’s the second most followed person on Instagram. She owned the summer of 2014, tripling up the Billboard Hot 100. All this was made concrete with Ariana’s sophomore blockbuster, “My Everything”, filled with bangers, ballads, and features in the course of 12 tracks. After coming off her debut era “Yours Truly” met with relative moderate success but caught the attention of critics, the era started off with Ari releasing “Problem” as the lead single, which debuted at No. 3 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became the fifth largest debut by a woman in history. This would follow with a slew of successful singles, and during that time her music is inescapable. Below is our take on the album tracks, ranked from worst to best.

14 You Don’t Know Me

Starting off our ranking is an absolutely tragic piece of noisy trash that we will just skip right to the next.

13 Only 1

The first of three deluxe tracks (or two really because one of those should not be remembered one bit), “Only 1” comes as short, quick doses of percussion, and quite retro production and melodies. It gives a sense of pure classiness to the track, and the snappiness of it throwbacks to some elements of “Yours Truly” as well. It’s true that there’s no song on the album that quite sounds like this, but at the same time it doesn’t sound nearly as interesting as the others.

12 Bang Bang

The thing about “Bang Bang” is that at first listen it didn’t sound bad. Even though it’s most definitely an underwhelming product from the 3 stars that’s been recruited (some may call it the modern “Lady Marmalade”… before hearing the official release.) With its brassy arrangements and lively atmosphere, it sounded like the perfect, loud follow-up to “Problem”, the lead single. But after a while, it just sounded noisy. Maybe all that horn, Ariana’s high notes, and what comes out of Jessie J’s throat all added together is simply a bit too much. Imagine the chaos if Nicki did her roman thing on top of all that as well.
11 Be My Baby

One of numerous collaborations between Cashmere Cat and Ariana, “Be My Baby” sounds alright on its own. The track starts with filtered electric guitar chords into the first appearance of the hook which falls flat throughout the song, then moves on to verses that resemble the bouncy R&B that might be familiar from fellow powerhouse Mariah Carey. Then you compare it to their other collaborations, namely “Adore”, the uniquely offbeat one-off R&B track with Cat as frontman, and the much more recent “Quit”, where gorgeous, dramatic vocals and indietronica, somewhat industrial beats mash together into 4 minutes of bliss… and we land here at number 11.
10 My Everything

Resembling the Intro and giving a cyclical narrative to the album, even though the album really shows minimal thought of any solid theme, the title track is a piano-led ballad in classic Ariana Grande style. Soft piano chords that slips under the layers of ethereal vocals, then Ariana’s main vocals stay effortlessly on top as she sings a melody that’s sweet like candy, without really going over the top and belting the shit out of it which would sound bad. Instead we have this cute little ballad that ties a pretty bow to the album.

9 One Last Time

Released as the last single of the era with a killer video, “One Last Time” is a romantic, elegant mid-tempo that shows off the more sensitive, soft parts of Ariana’s vocals. While there isn’t really much to grab for attention, it shows a leap of newfound maturity in her music, in contrast to some more chirpy ballads from her first album like Daydreamin’. If only there was a true climax somewhere in the song, other than just the tiny bit of development and vocal layering we hear.

ariana grande: the 5 deepest cuts

8 Hands On Me

The penultimate track of the album that screams early-2000s Xtina is most probably the most sexually charged track of “My Everything”, but in terms of Ariana’s delivery it feels like all the sexuality is premature. The unrefined and vanilla tones of her voice brings the comparisons of a teenage girl trying to act sexy. Although this song is a good-girl-gone-bad declaration that Nickelodeon times are over, everything else suggests that the transition can come a bit later. The thing that saved the song a middle spot of this ranking, however, is the fun and bold nature of the track which can’t hurt to listen to every now and then.

7 Break My Heart Right Back

One of the more R&B tracks on “My Everything”, this is an incredibly enjoyable track that keeps getting better as it builds. From the fun guitar strums in the chorus, to Childish Gambino’s wacky guest verse, spitting out lines like “The flow’s so gross, my nickname’s school lunch”, then how you suddenly find out that the song is literally about a boy cheating on Ariana with another boy. If you don’t call that fun, I don’t know what is. And that’s the only way to describe it.

6 Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart

Another one of a couple of slower songs on the album, this is the Harry Styles-penned heartbreaker ballad, led by a beautiful group of strings and sweet but wretched piano chords, as Ariana croons “I know I’m not your only, but I’ll still be your fool” in the second verse, talking about being so madly in love that not even infidelity could keep her away. The sentimental and relatable song finds its place in everybody’s sweet spots.

5 Break Free

A downright EDM dance track, Ariana mixes her feminine vocals with Zedd, one of the best in the EDM game, throwing out beats strong like punches and an enthralling mix of synths. The power and energy of the track reminds one of a festival-closer track at Ultra Music, where fireworks come blasting off the stage and the sweaty crowd jumps and raves as the chorus hits. With “Break Free”, Ariana proves that she can handle an electronic banger just fine – and it absolutely wouldn’t hurt if we had some more.

4 Best Mistake

Following the energy of “Break Free” just mentioned above, “Best Mistake” is a moody, mature slow-tempo with a slight touch of hip-hop influence in the drum pads, aided of course by the featured verse of former boyfriend Big Sean. As piano chords slowly meander from one to another on dreamy synths, the track is supported with extreme production detail that sticks with you every listen. “You’re the best mistake I’ve ever made,” Ariana makes the cheesiest excuse of falling in love sound convincing and even quite sexy.


3 Problem

Shooting up the top spot on iTunes 30 minutes after its release, Problem was the summer smash that 2015 needed, as well as the perfect beginning of the blockbuster era. A number of factors all contribute to the perfection that the song serves – the effortlessly irresistable sassy saxophone loop, the anti-climatic whispered chorus backed by only bass but somehow managed to do just as much as a standard chorus can do, and Ms. Azalea’s best, and dare we say one of her very few successful verses covering the bridge. Such pop brilliance simply cannot be replicated again, and let’s say that Ariana learnt that the hard way.

2 Why Try

Co-written by Ryan Tedder that’s written career-defining power ballads for numerous popstars, Beyonce and Kelly Clarkson to name a few, “Why Try” is a stunner that shows emotion and vocal power. With a march-like snare and delicate synths, the song is 100% tailor-made for Ariana, as shedescribes a hopeless relationship reaching its end, with dazzling vocal production and harmony. In the span of 3 albums in her current discography, this remains as one of the most notable ballads Ariana has ever released.

1 Love Me Harder

And here we are – the best track on the album and the single that missed the #1 on the charts IF THERE’S AT LEAST ONE SINGLE OUT OF ALL THAT SHOULD’VE MADE IT UP THERE, and there’s really no argument here. First of all there’s no way you can go wrong with that Run Away With Me / Style / Jealous / Do What U Want riff and production – it’s not plagarism or ripping off if it sounds that good. The track meets both ends of the sensitive mid-tempo ballad, and the throbbing electro-heavy sensation of upbeat pop at the same time, and also manages to nail the sexual explicitness of the song – helped by The Weeknd who’s had some experience in singing about BDSM – something that might’ve sounded awkward in a track like “Hands On Me”. It’s also fitting how the most sexual track of “My Everything” was the best, because looking back at the follow-up of the album, “Dangerous Woman” was definitely the way to go, and oh how much harder would that ranking be to compile.

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