“Dangerous Woman” Ariana Grande third studio album
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Dangerous Woman is the third studio album by American singer Ariana Grande, released by Republic Records on May 20, 2016.The album is the follow-up to her second studio album My Everything (2014), and features guest appearances from Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne, Macy Gray and Future. The album was originally to be titled Moonlight and supposed to be released in September 2015, but it was delayed. The song “Focus” was the intended lead single. However, later the album’s name was changed to Dangerous Woman and “Focus” was removed from the album’s standard track listing. Dangerous Woman is primarily a pop and R&B album, with influences of dance-pop, disco, house, trap, and reggae genres. Grande, Max Martin, and Savan Kotecha were the album’s executive producers. All three wrote or produced songs for the album, as did musicians such as Ilya Salmanzadeh and Tommy Brown.
Ariana Grande – Dangerous Woman
The album debuted at number two on the US Billboard 200, earning 175,000 album-equivalent units in its first week, with 129,000 coming from pure sales. It was her first album to not hit number-one in the country. However, it became her first number one album in the UK. It also hit number-one in Australia, Brazil, Italy, Ireland, New Zealand, Spain and Taiwan, while also entering the top ten in almost every territory it charted in. On October 28, 2016, Dangerous Woman was certified Platinum by the RIAA for combined album sales, on-demand audio, video streams and track-sale equivalent of 1 million units. As of 2017, the album has sold 900,000 copies worldwide.
Ariana Grande third studio album
The album spawned three top twenty singles in the United States. The lead single, “Dangerous Woman“, was released on March 11, 2016, debuted at number ten, and later peaked at number eight on the US Billboard Hot 100. The second single, “Into You”, peaked at number 13, while the third single “Side to Side” became the first top five single from the album, peaking at number four on that chart, where it became the albums highest charting single. All three of the aforementioned singles have been certified multiple platinum in the United States. Two promotional singles were released for the album: “Be Alright” and “Let Me Love You” (featuring rapper Lil Wayne).
The album received positive reviews from critics, appearing on the year-end lists of several publications. It received a Grammy nomination for Best Pop Vocal Album. To promote the album, Grande performed at the MTV Movie Awards, Billboard Music Awards, MTV Video Music Awards, and American Music Awards. She also appeared on an episode of Saturday Night Live as both the host and musical guest. Furthermore, Grande embarked on a concert tour, entitled the Dangerous Woman Tour, starting in February 3rd, 2017 and ending in September 21st, 2017. This tour was interrupted on May 22, 2017 due to a suicide bombing attack at the end of Grande’s concert on Manchester Arena. Due to this tragedy, Grande created a benefit concert on June 4, 2017, named One Love Manchester and took place at the Old Trafford Cricket Ground in Manchester.
Background and conception
On August 25, 2014, Grande released her second studio album My Everything, it debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and it sold 169,000 copies in its first week. Months after its release, Grande revealed that her third studio album could be titled Moonlight making reference to the title in her Twitter account.Following the rumors about the album’s release date, Grande officially announced the lead single of Moonlight called “Focus” during her September 15, 2015 appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. “Focus” was released digitally on October 30, 2015. The song debuted and peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100, selling 113,000 copies in its first week in the United States.[note 1] In interview to U.K station KISS the singer said the song was something of an outlier on the album. “That’s why I put ‘Focus’ first, because it’s the only one that sort of sounds like that.” She also stated the station: “I’m excited for the next couple of months to not only finish [Moonlight] but to have actual undivided time where I can really just focus on the music.”
However, after months of speculation, while discussing the album’s direction in interview with Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Grande revealed that she was no longer sure of the name, and that she might re-title the album after another song on the album. “A really long time ago I was convinced that it was going to be called Moonlightbecause its [sic] one of my favorite songs that we did for the album,” the singer explained. “And now, as we’re wrapping things up, of course I’ve been writing and singing, we’re at the final stretch… now there’s this other song that has thrown me for a whirlwind and I love it so much, it’s changed everything.” She announced the new title of the album, Dangerous Woman, on February 22, 2016, through her Snapchat and Twitter accounts. The following day, she posted a photo on Instagram with a caption quoting Egyptian feminist writer Nawal El Saadawi’s 1975 novel, Woman at Point Zero as follows: “They said, ‘You are a savage and dangerous woman.’ I am speaking the truth. And the truth is savage and dangerous”. As to why the album name was changed, Grande stated that it had to do with portraying herself as a stronger person and to empower fans, saying:
“‘Moonlight’ is a lovely song, and it’s a lovely title. It’s really romantic, and it definitely ties together the old music and the new music, but ‘Dangerous Woman’ is a lot stronger. … To me, a dangerous woman is someone who’s not afraid to take a stand, be herself and to be honest.”
The album artwork features Grande wearing latex bunny mask whilst portraying a very seductive image in contrast to the covers of her previous albums. In an interview with Chris Martins for Billboard, Grande explained that the cover was inspired by Super Bunny costume: “The Super Bunny is my superhero, or supervillain—whatever I’m feeling on the day”, says Grande. “Whenever I doubt myself or question choices I know in my gut are right—because other people are telling me other things—I’m like, ‘What would that bad bitch Super Bunny do?’ She helps me call the shots”, she said. Grande finished work on the album on January 21, 2016.This is Grande’s first album to have a Parental Advisory label.
Recording and production
For the album’s production, Grande worked with several music producers including Max Martin and Savan Kotecha who she worked with as executive producer. Grande began recording songs for the album soon after the completion of her previous album, My Everything (2014), and continued throughout the summer and fall of 2015, between stops on her Honeymoon Tour, with her friends Tommy Brown and Victoria Monét. Commenting about the album’s direction, Grande stated, “It still sounds like me, but it feels like a more mature, evolved version. There’s a nice blend of the R&B vibes and a nice blend of pop vibes. The whole body of work is a little darker and sexier and more mature.” Grande selected Martin as collaborators after his production on My Everything, she complimented Martin, saying, “He’s like a mathematician. He knows music like math.
It just makes sense to him.” The musician Ilya Salmanzadeh contributed to the album producing and writing songs with Martin, Grande, Kotecha and Alexander Kronlund, they developed several tracks present in the album, including “Into You, “Side to Side”, “Greedy”, “Everyday”, “Bad Decisions” and “Touch It”, while the title track was produced by Johan Carlsson and Martin. All songs were recorded at MXM Studios in Los Angeles, California and Wolf Cousins Studios in Stockholm, Sweden and mixed by Serban Ghenea at MixStar Studios (also located in the state of California). Brown and Monét worked collectively as TBHits, one of their first productions recorded for the album was “Moonlight”, Grande wrote the song with Monét, she described the song as “the most special song I’ve to that day.” They also produced “Be Alright”, “Let Me Love You”, “Leave Me Lonely”, “I Don’t Care” and “Knew Better/Forever Boy”, all the songs were recorded at Vietom Studios.
The album features guest appearances by several hip hop artists such as Lil Wayne, Future and Nicki Minaj (who previously collaborated with Grande in “Bang Bang” alongside Jessie J and “Get On Your Knees”, from Minaj’s third studio album The Pinkprint in which Grande is a featured artist); About the choice of collaborators, Grande said: “I love working with artists people don’t expect me to work with.” During the recording sessions for “Everyday” Grande wanted to work with Future, but felt it wasn’t the right thing because of the differences between them: “I knew I wanted to work with Future, but I didn’t know if we could find the right song to do together because we’re so different, but we found a dope vibe and it’s very unique and exciting,” she said. According to Grande, “When his song comes on, it creates a physical response.” Grande included Nicki Minaj on “Side to Side,” stating “I love working with her”. Singer Macy Gray was invited to record “Leave Me Lonely” after she met with Republic Records’s A&R Wendy Goldstein. In an interview with Fuse, the singer explained how the collaboration happened: “They were just in the middle of finishing the album, and they had that “Leave Me Lonely,” and at the time, the person who wrote it was just singing on it, just to show whoever was gonna sing it how it would go, and so it was kind of a demo. And Wendy asked me to do it, and said ‘Let me check with Ariana,’ and then two days later we were in the studio and I went and cut it.”
Music and lyrics
The album opens with the doo wop throwback track “Moonlight”, with Lewis Corner from Digital Spy describing the song as a “50s-inspired sway, which blossoms with its dainty string plucks and romantic violins. Critics noted that the sound present in the song is reminiscent of Grande’s debut album Yours Truly.The reviewer from Sputnikmusic described it as “oozing with 1950s vibes and allowing Ariana’s gorgeous vocals to do all the heavy lifting.” The writer compared the song to the Yours Truly song “Tattooed Heart”, commenting that “although it functions as a serviceable opener, it lacks that addictingly sweet chorus to elevate it beyond being just a pretty introduction to the record.” “Dangerous Woman”, also the lead single and title track, is a mid-tempo slow-jam pop and R&B song.
The recording has a time signature that “falls neatly at the intersection of bubblegum and rock and roll”, while having an arena rock chorus and a guitar solo in its bridge. The third track “Be Alright” is a song heavily inspired by 1990’s deep house, also having Chicago house, and dance-pop influences. Christopher R. Weingarten of Rolling Stone went further, calling it a “tropical house swagger-jack.” Lyrically, “Be Alright” is a carefree song about being optimistic. During the first lines, she sings: “Midnight shadows / When finding love is a battle / But daylight, is so close / So don’t you worry ’bout a thing.” “Into You” is a dance-popsong, with elements of EDM. According to Digital Spy’s Lewis Corner, it features “a thudding club beat, lurking synths and sharp clicks.” It starts with “a minimal club beat” before “crescendoing into [a] thumping chorus,” where “an uptempo disco backline explodes into a monstrous club-ready hook,” as noted by Complex‘s Jessie Morris. Jessica Goodman of Entertainment Weekly added that the song also has “new-age disco beats.” Lyrically, the song features Grande singing of “waiting for her love interest to stop the conversation and finally make a move.”
“Side to Side”
A sound sample of the reggae-pop song “Side to Side”, featuring guest appearance from rapper and singer Nicki Minaj. The sample shows Grande singing the chorus accompanied by a guitar, snaps and drums. Lyrically, “Side to Side” talks about soreness after sex.
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“Side to Side” is a reggae-pop song features guest vocals by Trinidadian-American rapper Nicki Minaj. Lyrically, it talks about soreness after sex. In an interview with MTV News reporter Gaby Wilson, Grande explained “that whole song is about riding leading to soreness”. “Let Me Love You”, a duet with rapper Lil Wayne, is “a slow-paced sultry jam”, having a laid back R&B melody, delicate piano chords, electro-beats, smooth, deep bass, a steady beat, trap-lite sound, hip hop beats, and interspersed vocals. Lyrically, “Let Me Love You” talks about getting over an ex and laying on the chest of someone new. While “lying on some hunk’s chest”, she’s just chilling and “looking for love”, mostly “a one-night stand”. The disco-pop song “Greedy” received positive comments by music critics, who praised its production comparing to Mark Ronson’s Uptown Funkfeaturing Bruno Mars (2014). An example of the comparison, is the Billboard’s critic credited as K.A, who described the song as a “throwback trifle, which casts Grande as a lady Bruno Mars.” “Leave Me Lonely” features guest appearance from Macy Gray, musically is an R&B track with soul influences. Describing the song, Brittany Spanos from Rolling Stone wrote, “if you combined these songs with similarly retro material from her debut record (“Honeymoon Avenue,'” “Tattooed Heart”) you could probably make a good case for Grande as a rock-friendly voice that could be critically adored like “Adele” or “Amy Winehouse”.” “Everyday” featuring rapper Future, is a woozy electropop and trap song. The music is built around a grinding, tinned dance beat and a thrumming bassline. The song’s lyrics are explicit and a paean to sexual satisfaction. Grande illustrates a steamy love affair and lathers on flirtation. During his verse, Future raps about lavish vacations and late-night endeavors, describing himself as a bad guy ideally suited to Grande’s needs.
A 23-second sample of “Greedy” demonstrating the musical style which critics praised and compared to Mark Ronson’s and Bruno Mars’ 2014 song “Uptown Funk”.
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The tenth track “Sometimes” was described by Lewis Corner of Digital Spy as an R&B song; Annie Zaleski of The A.V. Club noted the song features folky acoustic guitar flourishes, distracting electronic production and vocal effects. While “I Don’t Care” was described by Rolling Stone editor Christopher Weingarten as a Chicago soul-influenced song, it opens with strings that drop off in the first verse, where Grande sings among clips and R&B beats: “I used to let some people tell me how to live and what to be/But if I can’t be me, the fuck’s the point?” NME’s Larry Bartlet noted the song is “genuinely satisfying to hear her put that sentiment on record so resoundingly”. In “Bad Decisions”, Grande sings, “I’ve been doing stupid things, wilder than I’ve ever been,” with Mikael Wood of Los Angeles Times noting that “a tune whose message initially appears clear: I sinned, I’m sorry, let’s move on. She blames the behavior on a boy, then admits she’s enjoying it.” Musically, “Bad Decisions” is a hip hop number. “Touch It” is an EDM-inspired song, Grande sings the chorus over a “scuzzy bassline”, as noted by Lewis Corner of Digital Spy. Maeve McDermott of USA Today described the song as “dramatic and dark” and noted a sound comparable to works of R&B artist The Weeknd. “Knew Better / Forever Boy” consists of two integrated songs, which last for a duration of 4:59. The first part of the song is the R&B “Knew Better”, which pairs Grande’s distorted vocals with “pounding” synths. The second part is the deep house “Forever Boy”. The last track of Dangerous Woman deluxe version is the ballad “Thinking Bout You”, the song features a pulsating “thudding kick beat.”“Jason’s Song (Give It Away)” is a jazz song, it was co-written and produced by musician Jason Robert Brown who composed the track inspiring by Broadwayproductions, in the song Grande sings among piano notes: “I’m no blow-up doll, no free-for-all, no slave to your decision,”/”Gotta find a way to break the spell, to get the hell away from those who block my vision.” According to Elias Light from Rolling Stone the track uses a backdrop of light, cocktail soul for a declaration of independence. It was just included as additional track on Target version and Japanese edition of Dangerous Woman.