Katy Perry said it best in an interview: Ariana Grande has the best female vocal in pop music today. It’s difficult to fight such a statement, as bold as it stands. Despite being mocked for her height and youthful appearance, in addition to amassing a reputation as a diva and Mariah Carey copy cat, it’s telling when her albums still top Billboards across the globe. One could point to her general attractiveness and success on Nickelodeon for her collection of fans, but I think it is her vocal performances that she should be revered for. So in homage to Ariana Grande, let’s countdown Ariana Grande’s best songs from her smash sophomore album, My Everything.
15. You Don’t Know Me
This was the only Ariana Grande song I disliked until she came out with Focus. Listening to the lyrics are cringe-worthy, painting anyone who relates to the song as pompous and condescending. On top of that, the melody is not particularly catchy, nor is the main electronic hook. There is little to justify listening to this dud on an otherwise spotless album.
14. Break Your Heart Right Back
This is one of the string of songs about sex from Ariana Grande which just doesn’t work as well for me as her other more sophisticated tracks. Provocative, edgy, scandalous, and even catchy, but ultimately empty and devoid of meaning or artistic merit.
13. Only 1
Slow, sluggish, but noticeably more confident in itself, opting to settle on percussion that sounds like it could have been beat-boxed and soft piano chords in the verses. It gets a bit too rowdy and crowded with all the complicated beats in the chorus, but Ariana Grande shows off her vocals in this one, flipping with ease to and from her head voice and going on downward runs flawlessly.
12. Hands On Me
Same problems as listed in Break Your Heart Right Back.
11. Be My Baby
The last song explicitly about sex in which she is the only vocalist. Amazingly, it decides to leave out the annoying raping from Break Your Heart Right Back and Hands On Me.
10. Bang Bang
Alright. This is the portion of the list that gets me excited about Ariana Grande. In this one, she co-stars with huge industry names like Jessie J. and Nicki Minaj. Although I’m sure she might have felt intimated, I think her presence in this bunch cements her status as one of the biggest stars of pop music. The song is insanely energetic and lively, but it doesn’t rank any higher because it is also repetitive in equal dosage.
9. Why Try
Maybe I’m trying to make a statement by placing Why Try directly ahead of the more viral Bang Bang, but this is a severely under-appreciated song from My Everything. With lovely effects done on Ariana’s voice when she sings “Na na na na” and nice moments of silence that accentuate lyrics about making her heart skip, this is a song with a strong sense of groove and undeniable charm.
8. Love Me Harder
Ah. The music video that made the cat look iconic for Ariana Grande. Is that sand she’s playing around in?
Although this song is blatantly about sex, the difference here is that this song is catchy and benefits from great re-listenability. Helped by a solid vocal performance from The Weekend and a cool beat which pulses the music forward in the choruses, this is a song where its popularity is understood and justified. On a random side-note, listen to Style and tell me if you can’t help but to feel Taylor Swift mimicked the triplet beats. Maybe unsurprisingly, these songs mash very well.
7. Best Mistake
Best Mistake is emotional with a strong piano presence–this is my type of music. This song may not stick in your head as much as Bang Bang or Love Me Harder, but the feelings this song and its lyrics evokes far outweighs any deficiencies in its melodic composition. Perhaps Ariana made a mistake in dating Big Sean, but there is no mistake in this sincere collaboration.
6. Break Free
Despite the music video being about killing aliens and strutting in high top boots as a space princess, I like to interpret this song as growing into a strong and independent woman who don’t need no man. Not only is this an anthem I can get behind, but it’s hella catchy and upbeat. Coupled with some awesome harmonies by Ariana Grande herself and a dope instrumental section towards the end of the song that makes you want to nod your head to the beat, and there is no shame in playing this one over and over again.
5. One Last Time
With a definitive hook that runs across the entire song, it’s difficult not to smile inside when you first hear the few synthetic chimes that identifies the song–it signals the impressive riffs and hum-able melodic lines that are to follow. On top of all that, the lyrics are truly puzzling in this one, as it’s about cheating from a cheater’s perspective. This makes it perhaps the most intriguing to listen to. Uniqueness and subtly in its craft makes it more than just another triumph of the pop music industry.
4. Just a Little Bit of Your Heart
If there is one song that is under-rated in My Everything, it has to be this one. Right from the start it gets the atmosphere right with just a piano background and a choir composed of Ariana Grande voices, which provides the proper setting for the heartbreaking vocal performance that is given. This is a song that takes pride in its simplicity and conservative digital editing. Risking to fail at appealing to the younger generation, Just a Little Bit of Your Heart ignores the money aspect of music to make… well, music.
This is probably the song that got me into Ariana Grande. And the thing is, this isn’t even normally my type of jam. Iggy Azalea, while she doesn’t bother me in Problem, doesn’t really add much to the piece. Neither does the guy who whispers “one less problem without you” incessantly. However, the brazen swagger in which the song repeats its verses and choruses epitomizes the pure gold the songwriters struck when they composed the piece. It sounds like it was almost perfectly designed for Ariana, showcasing her high range as the melody grows in pitch and dynamics in all the right places. And can we talk about that hook that sounds like it was done with a kazoo? Ah, it’s just all so good.
It’s not much, and you usually have to purchase the album in order to listen to it on sites like iTunes, but for what it’s worth, I really love the intro to her album. It starts off completely a cappella with a bunch of looping, and then smoothly integrates a few instruments as the song closes. For those interested in playing it on the piano or arranging it, you’ll come to appreciate that it is almost entirely done in the pentatnoic scale, which, I think, gives this song its joyous angelic and peaceful sound.
1. My Everything
As perhaps her album title would suggest, My Everything is the definitive best song on her album. I know music is a very subjective thing, but this is about as close as music comes to perfect as it does for me. There’s just the piano to accompany and it does little more–it’s practically a three chord song. Per usual, I love all the extra editing to loop Ariana’s voice for harmonies. But what seals the deal for me is her tactful and vulnerable performance that is allowed to take center stage because of the simplicity of the piece. This could have been done completely a cappella with no editing and I would still listen to it. This song proves that Ariana Grande is one of the most captivating singers of our generation.
Averaged album rating: 7.4/10.0 (Great)