A daring Ariana Grande

SOUNDS FAMILIAR - Baby A. Gil - The Philippine Star

I can cite several reasons why the lovely Ariana Grande has become one of today’s most successful young singers. First is her music. She hit upon an engaging blend of hip-hop and EDM that kids can really relate to that is her very own. Second is she has a large loyal fan base. This was developed during her years as Cat Valentine in the Nickelodeon show Victorious. Those kids who watched that show are now grown up and see Ariana as a friend and playmate from the past. It is but natural that they would buy copies of her albums.

The 21-year-old Ariana is also very pretty with classic facial features and a lithe figure. Her tight ponytail gives a wholesome touch to her usually extra short, short shorts and mini skirts worn with high-heeled pumps. Boys see her as a dream girlfriend, while girls want to look like her. And parents are only so happy that they do because that solves the problem of their girls wanting to look like heaven forbid, Nicki Minaj or Lady Gaga.

But what really makes Ariana special is her voice. This reaches three or even four octaves. This is why she easily invited comparison with Mariah Carey when her first album Yours Truly made it to No. 1 when it was released a year ago. There are indeed similarities between them and I also detect a lot of Christina Aguilera in her high notes. But what makes Ariana different is an incredible sweetness in her notes that makes even the hardest hitting hip-hop tune sound melodic. For those of you out there who still have to develop a taste for hip-hop, try listening to Ariana and you, too, will believe that hip-hop can be beautiful, too.

And so we come to My Everything. This is Ariana’s second album and like her first, it also made No. 1 in the U.S. of A. upon release. Gone is the youthful, tentative quality that characterized her first effort. Ariana here is confident, daring and in even better vocal form. She was a teen star reaching for stardom in Yours Truly. She is now the pop Diva who has reached the top. I do not know if she thinks of it this way but she has the best vocal chops of them all and it is in full display in the album from that hushed a cappella Intro down to the power ballad Why Try and up to the Bang Bang songfest with Jessie J and Nicki Minaj.

Easy standouts are Problem featuring Iggy Azalea, surely already one of the year’s biggest hits and Be My Baby featuring Cashmere Cat. The cuts I like best though are Break Free featuring Zedd, a fine example of her hip-hop, plus EDM styling and her sassy turn in Break Your Heart Right Back feat. Childish Gambino.  Other songs included are One Last Time; Best Mistake feat. Big Sean; Love Me Harder by Ariana and the Week Nd; Just A Little Bit Of Your Heart; Hands On Me feat. A&AP Ferg; My Everything; Only I and You Don’t Know Me.

Female power

Here are the Top 20 songs in Billboard Magazine’s Hot 100 Singles list this week. And it is female power all the way. Take note, the first eight songs in the Top 10 listing are by female artists. Ariana, of course, is one of them with two songs from My Everything

All About That Bass by Meghan Trainor; Shake It Off by Taylor Swift; Bang Bang by Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj; Anaconda by Nicki; Black Widow by Iggy Azalea featuring Rita Ora; Stay With Me by Sam Smith; Break Free by Ariana feat. Zedd; Boom Clap by Charli XCX; Chandelier by Sia; Don’t Tell ‘Em by Jeremih feat. YG.

Rather Be by Clean Bandit feat. Jess Glynne; Rude by MAGIC!; Habits (Stay High) by Tove Lo; Maps by Maroon 5; Bailando by Enrique Iglesias feat. Descemer Bueno; Hot Boy by Bobby Shmurda; Am I Wrong? by Nico & Vinz; Booty by Jennifer Lopez feat. Iggy and Pitbull. Cool Kids by Echosmith; and Fancy by Iggy feat. Charli XCX.

Even the Top 200 albums listing has a female lording it up at No. 1 in Barbra Streisand’s latest album, Partners. The rest are X by Chris Brown; Sundown Heaven Town by Tim McGraw; The Cowboy Rides Away: Live From AT & T Stadium by George Strait; Bulletproof Picasso by Train; Native by One Republic; V by Maroon 5; Anomaly by Lecrae; Reincarnate by Motionless In White; World On Fire by Slash feat. Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators; Guardians Of The Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 1, the movie soundtrack by Various Artists; Frozen, also the movie soundtrack; Run Wild. Live Free. Love Strong by for King & Country; Seen It All: The Autobiography by Jeezy; Souled Out by Jhene Aiko; My Everything by Ariana; In The Lonely Hour by Sam Smith; Title by Meghan Trainor; X by Ed Sheeran; and I Don’t Dance by Lee Brice.

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