Monday, March 4, 2024

Ariana Grande’s ‘Sure, And?’ is a bitingly catchy and self-aware comeback

Look what you made her do. Final Sunday (January 7), when Ariana Grande introduced her comeback single ‘Sure, And?’, pop music boards rushed to declare that the singer was about to enter her “‘Fame’ period”. Their proof? The mysterious however seductive cowl artwork, the rhetorical query within the music title, and winking clues scattered throughout social media all pointed to an artist making ready to get one thing off her chest, very like how Taylor Swift approached her 2017 album of the identical identify.

However the place that report hinged on themes of revenge, lust and vindication, on ‘Sure, And?’ – Grande’s first solo launch since 2020 LP ‘Positions’ – the 30-year-old holds the main target solely on herself, delivering a compact and intelligent clapback with the vitality of the nail-painting emoji. For an artist that has beforehand been criticised for poor enunciation, her vocal is surprisingly restrained – not a single “yuh” or whistle notice to be discovered, she’ll have you understand. It additionally elevates Grande’s manufacturing model, which she has honed alongside longtime collaborator Max Martin, from entice beat-obsessed and transcendent to one thing extra intriguing, leaning in the direction of deep home: a melodic discourse that responds to a hearsay mill in overdrive.

Right here, Grande strikes with intention. What she has to talk about presumably revolves across the music business and her personal life, subjects which tie in with current information tales about her. Final August, she parted methods with supervisor Scooter Braun; the month prior, information of a reported relationship along with her Depraved co-star Ethan Slater broke, after she filed for divorce from Dalton Gomez. Earlier within the 12 months, too, she posted a prolonged and candid TikTok responding to the body-shaming feedback she has confronted all through her decade-long profession. “I’ve by no means felt extra delight or pleasure or love whereas concurrently feeling so deeply misunderstood by individuals who don’t know me,” Grande posted to Instagram tales in December, summing up a tumultuous 2023 within the media.

Gossips will pore over ‘Sure, And?’, which straight alludes to the current headlines round Grande. “Properly I learn it on the web, it should be true,” says a ‘critic’ in an accompanying teaser clip. However crucially, the observe highlights one thing apparent that’s maybe been drowned out by the hubbub of on-line chatter: as a vocalist and producer, she’s nonetheless improbable at what she does. Grande’s again catalogue incorporates a wealth of huge, iconic samples – most notably, the usage of ‘I’m Coming Out’ on 2014’s ‘Break Your Coronary heart Proper Again’ – however on ‘Sure, And?’, the strategy is extra refined, interpolating the beat of Madonna’s ‘Vogue’ as a way to evoke freedom.

Over 10 years, Grande has offered herself in multitudes – from a doe-eyed theatre child to the shady and decided “tremendous bunny” – however what has remained constant in her music is an actual, virtually brutal playfulness. It’s as if she’s all the time imagining the memes that can observe any launch. There will likely be no confusion as to what she’s getting at within the vocoder-style breakdown on ‘Sure, And?’: (“Your small business is yours and mine is mine / Why do you care a lot whose – [pause] – I journey?”) – it’s each a mission assertion and warning shot.

It is probably not an ‘Into You’ or ‘No Tears Left To Cry’, the kind of huge Grande singles that may shift your whole world for 3 adrenaline-pumping minutes, however ‘Sure, And?’ presents Grande in her truest type: a flawed however trustworthy human being, in search of to personal her narrative and transfer ahead.

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