What we thought:Ariana Grande is unlike any other pop star who emerged out of appearing on a kids' channel TV show: She can actually sing. Where Hilary Duff and Miley Cyrus (products of Disney's Lizzy Maguire and Hannah Montana franchises, respectively) were all attitude and fun!fun!fun!, Ariana (who played ditzy Cat in the now-defunct Nickelodeon sitcom Sam & Cat) is a soul sister with a sweet but commanding vocal range that invariably led to her being labelled 'mini-Mariah'.
Ariana's debut album Yours Truly was one of the best pop albums released last year and recalled the flush of 90s pop and RnB - think Babyface (who co-produced the album), Aaliyah, Toni Braxton, and yes, Mariah Carey at her Daydream-era best - that made this child of the 90s very very happy. Seriously, check it out, and if opening track Honeymoon Avenue doesn't make you swoon from the off, we gotta problem.
And exactly a year later, we already have her follow-up, My Everything, whose very reason for existing seems to be "Problem" – her catchy-as-the-clap collaboration with rapper Iggy Azalea. Suddenly kids know what a saxophone sounds like and Ariana's image has undergone its inevitable sexification - so she's a mini JLo too, I guess.
My Everything worryingly recalls Justin Bieber's attempt at grown-up pop, with more electronic dance beats and songs about being broken hearted than any 21-year-old has a right to have. But the list of artists who contribute their vocals (The Weeknd, Jessie J, ASAP Ferg) is enough to make this worth your while.
Big Sean, Ariana's rumoured bf, returns to lend his raps on "Best Mistake", which is almost a retread of their Yours Truly collab "Right There", but sapped of all its energy. "Be My Baby" still has that 90s gloss all over it while "Break Your Heart Right Back" even samples Diana Ross' "I'm Coming Out" as sampled by Notorious BIG on "Mo Money Mo Problems", with Childish Gambino riffing on Puff Daddy's lackadaisical style.
My Everything works best when Ariana is given licence to let that octave climbing vocal range of hers loose and be a pop star, like on piano ballad "My Everything" and future club banger "Break Free", but those moments are few.
A megstar has been hatched - but there's still some ways to go.
Best track: "Bang Bang" with Jessie J & Nicki Minaj – It's the most rebellious thing on the album and sounds like it doesn't even belong (it's available on the Deluxe edition). The presence of edgier, taboo-busting artists like Jessie and Nicki elevates this stomping track by about a factor of a thousand and is hopefully a sign of a new direction for Ariana.
Worst track: "Only 1" – Another Deluxe track that sounds like it was thrown together in the studio at the last minute.
Sounds like: A little diva in the making, if recent reports are anything to go by. Listen to the album here:
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