‘Dangerous Woman’ Showcases a New, More Mature Ariana Grande
“If you want it, boy, you got it / ain’t you ever seen a princess be a bad b*tch?”
Yes, if you mouth is agape to the floor, the aforementioned lyrical quote comes from the “potty mouth” (rather the “potty voice”) of former Nickelodeon star Ariana Grande. On her third studio album Dangerous Woman, Grande exemplifies the hip-hop/Urban Dictionary slang that she “gives no f*cks.”
In other words, Ariana Grande is indeed a “Dangerous Woman” and no longer an innocent girl. Remember when Britney Spears said, “I’m not that innocent?” That sentiment describes the new, mature Ariana Grande.
So is maturity measured by poise or by embracing the spirit of one’s particular age group or demographic? Maturity can be measured in both ways. On her balladry, with her debut and sophomore albums (Your Truly and My Everything), the maturity was already beyond Grande’s years vocally, hence why she drew comparisons to Mariah Carey. The material, arguably, was listenable by a more mature audience but targeted more to Grande’s younger demographic, hence the lack of over sexualizing.
The maturity that Grande makes isn’t vocally (she was already there in that department), but rather her image, ensuring that she moves beyond a younger fan base and paints herself as a credible artist as opposed to a teen-pop artist. The way that most musicians do that is by going for a more rebellious, more profane sound (Nick Jonas, Demi Lovato, and Selena Gomez come to mind). Ariana Grande conforms to such approaches on Dangerous Woman.
How does Ariana Grande reconstruct her image? Well for one, like the opening quote, she’s profane over the course of the album in numerous instances. On “Everyday,” she makes it clear:
“He giving me that good shit…/oh give it to me (everyday, everyday, everyday).”
For teen-pop artists, shit isn’t considered part of the bag of tricks for music catered to that age. It gets even deeper with Grande dropping the f-bomb on “I Don’t Care” and “Bad Decisions.”
“Don’t you know I ain’t f*cking with them good boys?”
Another way Grande reconstructs her image is through innuendo and sexuality. “Bad Decisions” is a hotbed for it. Grande doesn’t cross the line compared to some, but is suggestive.
“Side To Side” can be interpreted as being more metaphorical than literal, but had Grande and her writers opted against that golden opportunity of innuendo, it seems disappointing
“I’ve been here all night / I’ve been here all day / and boy, got me walkin’ side to side.”
“Bang Bang” gave a taste of this, but “Side To Side,” “Bad Decisions,” and “Touch It” takes it to the next level.
The final way Grande reconstructs her image is the most mature. Grande doesn’t have to ‘compromise’ morals. The use of minor keys gives Grande fierceness. Regardless of the profanity, the darker production propels her dangerousness.
One final question. Does conformity to rebellion in pop represent maturity? No. Popular artists are embracing potty mouths and amplified sex, even more, these days. Mature musically because it’s considered
Mature musically because it’s considered badass, rebelliousness isn’t synonymous with moral maturity. It doesn’t represent everybody’s way of life. Sure, we’re in an age where bluntness about sex is perceived to be okay. Is the notion blown out of proportion? Food for thought.