Ariana’s Seductive Arrival at R&B

Karl Ortegon
3 min readNov 6, 2020
Photo credit: Dave Meyers

Positions is here. We got a surprise album release announcement in October, the title track and lead single last Friday, and now the full-ass album.

Let’s not beat around the bush; it doesn’t feel exceptionally novel or envelope-pushing, but this is a great album. I’m drawing plenty of parallels to both sweetener and thank u, next, but I’m also getting some of her pre-Dangerous Woman ballad-y moments, too. Positions is perhaps her most muted record yet; it speaks for itself, and it’s her biggest departure from mainstream pop. While it’s easy to just label it a sex album and call it a day (in many ways, it is that!), Positions does go deeper as it blends R&B, trap, pop and hip-hop to formulate the lusty playground for Ariana’s butter-smooth vocals to romp in.

This morning, as I waited almost two hours in the freezing rain to early vote in Brooklyn, I got through the album thrice. Ariana is one of the most self-aware and self-guided artists out there today; she teases the listener at the end of ‘34+35’ with quips like “it means I wanna sixty-nine witchu…. nooooo shit. Math class.” But then on ‘off the table,’ she wonders aloud whether or not she’ll be able to find a love like the one she had with an ex (Mac?), a jarringly stoic track featuring The Weeknd, the king of stoic, existentialist pop. She has the range!

Positions sounds a lot like Kehlani’s latest album, It Was Good Until It Wasn’t, but it also sounds like early Mariah Carey. The whistles tones in ‘POV’ and ‘my hair,’ my goodness!

I love this album, but as someone who needs to dissolve on the dance floor in an absolute frenzy, I will always want anthems from Ari. At least I have ‘Rain On Me!’

Something I’ve recently realized is that while I think thank u, next and sweetener are her best albums, Dangerous Woman might be my favorite. Pre-Pete era Ariana was about pulse-pounding bangers and soaring anthems; Dangerous Woman put its title track near the front of the album, which leads directly into the delightful 1–2 punch of ‘Be Alright’ and ‘Into You,’ followed by the raunchy ‘Side To Side.’ (Speaking of Nicki Minaj, where is she on AG6? Ariana Nicki collab when?)

Then, of course, there’s ‘Greedy’ and ‘Touch It,’ two demanding tracks that certainly take ME to a state of mind… Before Dangerous Woman was ‘One Last Time’ and my favorite Ariana song of all-time, the rapturous ‘Break Free.’ Ariana has come into herself since these arena-filling jewels, but I can’t wait for us to get another one, because this album is for the bedroom, not a stadium.

I don’t think it’s wild to say that we will definitely get something different next, given that Positions was somewhat similar to her last two projects. It still, to me, feels like its own creature; yes there are plenty of similar uses of production, and themes of sex, love and lust, but I’m pleasantly surprised to find that Positions lives in its own world.



Karl Ortegon

Social media manager, copywriter, comedian based in NYC.