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Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Point Park University's Student-Run Newspaper

Point Park Globe

Grande’s “Eternal Sunshine” lacks creativity and innovation

Throughout her career as a recording artist, Ariana Grande has proven time and time again she can create earworm pop music that encapsulates the shifts and trends of the genre. Her work also showcases her consistently impressive, vast vocal range. Every album she’s released has spawned at least one viral track, if not more.


Her latest release, “Eternal Sunshine,” certainly has that viral track in the single “Yes, and?” But other than that, the remainder of the album fails to leave much of a mark. Many songs in the album frequently fail to differentiate from one another and cling to an ever-present drum machine for dear life.


Tonally, the album sways on the mellower side, with a number of tracks that incorporate a sound reminiscent of ‘80s vaporwave. Some of the more upbeat tracks lean into early 2000s pop. The Spice Girls’ final album, “Forever,” kept coming to mind as I listened. While the album more or less maintains a distinct identity, it doesn’t utilize it nearly as much as it could or should.


Backings often feel barren or quickly turn stale, introducing sounds that could’ve been more impactful or interesting had they been expanded upon. Instead, they left me wanting more, and not in a good way. Songs like the title track “Eternal Sunshine” and “True Story” start off promising, seeming as though they’re going to offer something different, before devolving into all too similar rhythms.


The songs that stand out most are the ones that diverge into something more unique or individual. “Supernatural” is one of the album’s best songs, leaning into a cosmic, almost electronic sound. The track “Imperfect for You” is notable for having what are probably the album’s most interesting vocals. Sure, the drum machine is still there, but these songs are not as reliant on it or driven by it as the others, instead blending in seamlessly with the tracks’ other sounds. It’s almost like most songs are afraid to stray too far. They’ll do something different for a minute before quickly resorting back to the same rhythms.


The clear exception to this rule is “Yes, and?” It is undoubtedly the best song on the album and, wouldn’t you believe, the one that sounds the most individual. The backing is a fantastically pop-y ode to ‘80s legends such as Madonna or Paula Abdul. Some have accused the song of trying to copy them, but I don’t think it does at all. I think Grande pays homage, especially in the music video, while managing to put her own signature spin on it. Really, this song is so different in terms of sound and quality to its companion tracks, it doesn’t even sound like it belongs on the same album.


The vocals are on par with the reputation Grande has established for herself, which is to say extremely clean and controlled. There is a bit of experimentation with vocals on this album, but not much. Most of the vocals follow what has come to be expected of her, which is impressive, but not exactly innovative or progressive.


Really, that’s the root of the problem with this album: it hardly brings anything new to the table. After listening through it, I had trouble pinning down what exactly I thought was wrong with it. I went back and listened to previous works of Grande’s to compare and contrast. What I found were mostly the same elements, and that’s when I realized that was the problem.


“Eternal Sunshine” is an Ariana Grande album in the purest form; it’s the sounds she’s become known for with little expansion beyond that. I don’t see any evolution in this album. I’m not going to pretend I’m an expert on her and her music, but I’m familiar enough to know this isn’t anything out of the ordinary for her. It’s fine, it’s passable, it’s listenable, but it’s not anything new. All too often I found myself thinking “this again?” between tracks.


There’s nothing wrong with her sound in itself – it’s her style, her voice, and it does work. This is a competent album, with strong vocals and decent backings. But when I think of the recent releases that have impressed me, all of them did so in large part due to their ability to expand upon an artist’s existing sound or find a satisfying blend between past and future. That isn’t happening here. You could scatter these songs among any of her last three albums and I wouldn’t be able to tell much difference.


There’s little here that makes much of an impact or progresses Grande’s sound further. Every album has its fillers, but “Eternal Sunshine” is essentially nothing thing but.






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