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MUSIC REVIEW: ‘Sweetener’ by Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande Sweetener LGBTQ Album Music

Whistle tone-boasting artist Ariana Grande released her fourth studio album, Sweetener, last weekend. So just how sweet is it?

Fans have been anticipating the release of Ariana Grande’s latest album, Sweetner, for quite some time now, and they were not left with any cavities upon its arrival. The US pop singer has been managing the difficult transition from Nikelodeon pop princess to full-on woman and Queen of Divas mostly well — let us never forget the great donut incident of 2015. But it is clear with this album that she is demanding the world see her as mature and in a completely different light.

After the horrific bombing at her Manchester Arena concert in May of 2017, fans and foes began to see Grande in a more sensitive and emotional light. Critics have argued that her beautiful reaction to this tragedy may overshadow everything she does in the future. That was until Sweetner was released. Brilliantly produced and largely co-written with Pharrell Williams and Max Martin, this is an album of upbeat hip hop inflected with R&B and pop that boasts upbeat lyrics about empowerment and self love.

image001-1 MUSIC REVIEW: 'Sweetener' by Ariana Grande

In this era of autotune, it’s refreshing to hear an artist who can relies solely on the power of her vocals, and Grande delivers that on a silver platter. Her four-octave range has been compared favorably to Mariah Carey’s, but her style is far more subtle and understated. In this album she is transparent and refreshing. “God is a Woman” and “No Tears Left to Cry” have skyrocketed on the charts and are exactly what audiences want from Grande. With rap appearances from both Nicki Minaj and Missy Elliot, the album captures three of musics most successful women and celebrates everything they have to offer. “Raindrops (An Angel Cried)” cleanses the palate for the emotional impact of the rest of the album. Grande’s signature soaring vocals help ground the listener in the moment and prepare them for the emotional journey that lies ahead. Intertwine that with upbeat bops and you have a recipe for sweet goodness.

“R.E.M.” is arguably the best song on the album, giving you the feels of a throwback and a fresh tune all in one. It’s easy to say that this cohesively collaborated album is by far Grande’s best. We went to the dentist and were given a clean bill of health to have as many “sweets” as we desire.

Were-About-It-1 MUSIC REVIEW: 'Sweetener' by Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande Releases Fourth Album: Sweetener

Ariana Grande Sweetener LGBTQ Album Music

Ariana Grande has released her highly-anticipated, fourth studio album, Sweetener, today, which debuted at #1 on the iTunes album chart in more than 90 countries and includes LGBTQ anthem, “no tears left to cry”.

– Grande will be performing her single “God Is a Woman” at the MTV Video Music Awards 

– She is preparing currently for “The Sweetener Sessions” in partnership with American Express

– Buy the album here.


Today, Grammy Award-nominated musician Ariana Grande releases her highly anticipated fourth studio album, Sweetener, via Republic Records.  The album debuted at #1 in over 90 countries on the iTunes Album Chart.  Sweetener includes three previously-released tracks, LGBTQ anthem “No Tears Left To Cry” now officially certified RIAA PLATINUM, “The Light Is Coming”, and current second single “God Is A Woman”. 

image001-1 Ariana Grande Releases Fourth Album: Sweetener

Ariana is preparing for the television debut performance of God Is A Woman on MTV’s Video Music Awards airing Monday, August 20th from Radio City Music Hall.  “God Is A Woman” was released alongside the female empowered music video directed by Grammy Award-winning director Dave Meyer.  Meyers also directed the music videos for “The Light Is Coming” and “No Tears Left to Cry”, and all three videos combined have now been streamed on VEVO over 600 million times. “No Tears Left to Cry” was regaled as an LGBTQ power anthem.

Also available today, fans have the chance to purchase limited edition Sweetener merchandise and music here.

Ariana will be performing songs from Sweetener next week in partnership with American Express, giving Card Members and fans the exclusive chance to see “The Sweetener Sessions,” a series of three intimate shows in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles. Those who miss the chance to grab a ticket will have the chance to see select songs from the Chicago performance on Ariana’s Instagram IGTV later this month, stay tuned!

ABOUT ARIANA GRANDE

With her powerful vocals and astonishing range, Ariana Grande has emerged as one of the most magnetic and massively successful performers in pop music today. At age 24 she’s delivered three platinum-selling albums and surpassed 18 billion streams, in addition to nabbing four Grammy Award nominations and landing eight hits in the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. With 2016’s critically acclaimed Dangerous Woman, Grande both boldly defies expectation and reveals the full force of her voice (recently hailed as an “extraordinary, versatile, limitless instrument” upon Grande’s appearance on Time’s “100 Most Influential People” list).

Since making her full-length debut with 2013’s Yours Truly (featuring the game-changing, triple-platinum smash “The Way”), Grande has brought her striking vocal presence to a genre-blurring breed of pop, taking on R&B, soul, and electronic music with equal nuance and assurance. Arriving in 2014, her sophomore effort, My Everything, garnered a Grammy Award nomination for Best Pop Vocal Album and spawned the 6x-platinum hits “Problem” and “Bang Bang” (a Grammy nominee for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance). Grande embraced a more uncompromising vision than ever before in the making of Dangerous Woman. With People noting that the album “celebrates feminine might,” Entertainment Weekly praised Grande for “having something meaningful to say with that jaw-dropping voice — one of the most exquisite in pop today.” Grande wrapped up her widely lauded Dangerous Woman Tour in support of the album last year, performing 85 arena shows worldwide.

Through the years, the longtime actress and former Broadway star has proven the scope of her talent by appearing on Scream Queens and Hairspray Live! and showcased her comedic chops by hosting Saturday Night Live. With her social media following now surging past 200 million, Grande has also earned numerous accolades from the MTV Video Music Awards, iHeartRadio Music Awards, and American Music Awards (including the highly coveted Artist of the Year prize).

Ariana’s recent single “No Tears Left To Cry” debuted at #1 on iTunes in 88 countries worldwide and began the next era for her upcoming fourth full length studio album Sweetener.  With the release of “Not Tears Left To Cry” she became the first artist in music history to see the lead single from her first four albums debut on the Top 10 on Billboard Hot 100.  This year she has graced the prestigious magazine covers of TIME’s Next Generation Leaders, FADER, and British Vogue.  The highly anticipated album, Sweetener, will be released August 2018.


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Cher to Release New Album: Dancing Queen

cher mamma mia dancing queen lgbtq music

Music legend and LGBTQ icon Cher pays tribute to the music of ABBA following global mega-success of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.

The one and only LGBTQ goddess Cher will be releasing Dancing Queen, a new album of all ABBA hits on September 28, 2018, which was officially announced August 9 by Warner Bros. Records. Those who pre-order the new album will immediately receive Cher’s rendition of the song “Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight).” You can listen to the official audio below.

The Oscar, Emmy, and Grammy Award-winning icon was inspired to record the album following her stunning performance in the recently-released mega-hit film, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.

Commented Cher: “I’ve always liked Abba and saw the original Mamma Mia musical on Broadway three times. After filming Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, I was reminded again of what great and timeless songs they wrote and started thinking ‘why not do an album of their music?’ The songs were harder to sing than I imagined but I’m so happy with how the music came out. I’m really excited for people to hear it. It’s a perfect time.”

Dancing Queen was recorded and produced in London and Los Angeles with Cher’s longtime collaborator Mark Taylor, who previously produced Cher’s global smash “Believe” which was number one in over 50 countries.

Dancing-Queen-Album-Cover-jpeg Cher to Release New Album: Dancing Queen

The track listing for Dancing Queen previously announced on Cher’s twitter is listed below.

Cher is scheduled to be awarded a Kennedy Center Honor on December 2nd in Washington DC. She is a co-producer of The Cher Show, the upcoming Broadway musical opening on December 3rd and will be touring Australia and New Zealand in September.  She is currently performing a residency at MGM Resorts. Get tickets HERE!

Dancing Queen Tracklisting:

1. Dancing Queen
2. Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)
3. The Name Of The Game
4. SOS
5. Waterloo
6. Mamma Mia
7. Chiquitita
8. Fernando
9. The Winner Takes It All
10. One Of Us


CHER SOCIALS

Cam: Country Music Star & LGBTQ Advocate

https://www.billboard.com/articles/news/pride/7817502/cam-gay-pride-month-love-letter

The country music world is getting to know her better and better each day, and recently, so has the LGBTQ community. Her name is Cam and she’s here to help queer people and make good music.

(DALLAS) – While visiting the American Airlines Center last month in Dallas to catch Sam Smith’s The Thrill of It All tour, About Magazine got the chance to catch up with country music star Cam. The young country sensation opened up for Smith on his tour and recently penned an open letter to the LGBTQ community in which she told us all she would always have our backs. And while that might seem like a strange thing for a straight country star to do, Cam is more than just a straight country star, as we came to find out. She’s also an educated student of psychology who left the field to pursue her dream of being a musician. And thank God she did. Where would country music be without her contributions to it, as well as to artists outside the genre, including Smith himself.

Just having wrapped her time with Smith, Cam has just released her new single “Road to Happiness” ahead of her second album on which it is featured and a tour of the same name beginning in September. Having just switched record labels from Sony imprint Artista Nashville to the Sony-owned RCA Records, Cam is keeping herself busy and she’s showing no signs of slowing down. About Magazine Dallas contributor Mallorie Hall sat down to talk to Cam while in Dallas.


Mallorie: Can you tell me a little bit about the tour and what’s it’s been like to play these packed venues?

Cam: It’s amazing. It’s like a musical theatre guy who designed the stage, so it’s very — you’ll see it. It’s a very intimate but also a very dramatic, grand thing. It’s really cool to be on a stage like that and be so personal. You know? And everyone seems like they’re here. I said it on stage and I really did mean it — everyone. I think because [Sam Smith is] so comfortable with who he is. He’s so genuine, like how he seems on stage is who he is and I resonate with that; and I think everybody does.

What do you think is the most different for you — just being yourself and being on stage?

Oh, like from my personality? Honestly, I think it’s just a forever dig to try and make sure that I know myself. And the more I do it offstage, the more real I can be onstage. […] You know when something catches you off guard and they’re like, “Hey how’s it going? Tell me about yourself!” and if you haven’t really figured yourself out, you’re gonna kind of say not the coolest thing in that moment. But that’s how it feels. Like … my difference offstage is more like figuring things out. You know what I’m saying? Like … whatever I’ve got, whatever truth I have.

5ED7B80B-4A62-4B28-9646-58A6B0AFE67D Cam: Country Music Star & LGBTQ AdvocateSo, you actually began your career as a songwriter composing for other artists. So, what has it been like at this stage of your career to take the mic on stage, having radio hits, versus writing songs for others?

Yeah, well, I actually started job-ness with being a psychology researcher. So I like looked at emotions and cultures and stuff like that. And then when I was like twenty-four I decided that I didn’t love it enough to put up with the downs. Every job has goods and bads; and I realized that the things that came with that, I couldn’t be in love with it. I was like, what should I do? And my professor was like, well, when you’re 80-years-old, picture yourself looking back. What would you regret? Missing out on music or missing out on psychology? Music, duh.

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About Dallas contributor Mallorie Hall + Cam

Plus don’t you feel like you can incorporate some of those messages into music? Just the positive ones?

Yeah. Oh my god. I think it’s that same search for truth. You know … like … what’s going on? Who am I? And why do we all do this? So I think that’s what songwriting is too, [but] more personal. When I first started […] I didn’t know any musicians. So the stereotype was like, Oh you can’t do this. […] And then statistically, like how could I actually be an artist? Then when I started doing that and I had a few random things like a producer was supposed to be in one room with someone and then couldn’t show up, so I’d get in the room. And then with Sam, another producer was there, and they were working on something and I got in. So it’s never like I was a really successful songwriter either. When I first got to Nashville I was like, Okay, if I want to do songwriting people will get publishing dues — which is basically like them giving you money up front and then they take a percent of your business. And as you can imagine, in the music business, for newbies, it’s horrible. It’s god awful. Thank god I was from California, and it’s so expensive to live there that I could just laugh at it. You’re fucking kidding me? I better just invest in myself. And you’ll all see when I’m worth it.

What was your first surreal moment, was it like, “Hey, I’m in a booth with Miley Cyrus?”

Probably. I would say like the record deal — which is not by any means the end of the ride. It’s actually really far in the beginning. That always feels like a legitimate thing. You can turn around to your parents and say, “I have this.” You can sit there on Thanksgiving and be like, “You have to respect me!”

You recently penned a letter to the LGBTQ community in which you showed your support for our community and said that we could always count on you. So what inspired that?

cam-press-2015-billboard-650 Cam: Country Music Star & LGBTQ AdvocateI think it’s the human thing to do. I think it’s a normal bar. I don’t think it’s spectacular. Like … it’s really kind of interesting in the country music community. I think it’s a normal thing. I don’t understand that it’s so sweet. People say, “Aw, thank you for saying that.” And I’m not even doing anything. I’m not even doing anything for you. That’s just saying, “Yeah, I’m not an asshole.” And I could be an asshole still … like look how I act! You know? So, for me, I think also I came from the San Francisco Bay Area and I think that our culture is a little bit different. Very special culture. But there’s still ups and downs. And with close friends of mine, when I hear experiences that people have to go through in different parts of this country, and in all parts of this country […] things like suicide rates — if you’re quiet, you’re condemning a lot of kids to living in a dark bubble. And they don’t always get out. So it’s just the least you can do. I feel like we need to get past just clapping and being like “Yay! You said it!” and start pushing the Okay. How are you educating yourself on what this really means and how we need to take care of each other?

You are obviously on tour with one of the most celebrated LGBTQ artists in the world, with whom you cowrote the song “Palace”, for his latest album. What’s the experience been like working together?

 He’s incredible, we were actually just talking about this. He said at one point in his life, “I’m just such a proud gay man and I’m standing here on this stage.” And everyone’s just screaming [for him]. And how many times in history has that happened? Someone’s just stood on stage and said this is me and this is who I am. And you just get goosebumps … like everyone’s just so moved. I don’t know. Because we’re still in the stage of that being kind of new, we’re really lucky that he gets to do this and he just spreads so much acceptance purposefully during each show. So it’s amazing to be around. He’s just like … you know … how you think pop divas look sweet but then in the background they’re like bitching people out? Nope. His whole crew, everybody, just are genuinely hardworking, good people.

So both of you are so talented and outspoken and individualistic in your music. What’s the dynamic like from your set to Sam’s when performing?

You will see. I think it actually flows really well. There’s something very musical and vocally driven and like … almost musical theater-ish. Very storytelling. And it just sort of builds. It’s weird because I have to think about it. I can’t sit in the audience and watch. Because my set is so vocally driven, and then it goes into his, I think the theme is very clear and people will appreciate that.

Could you tell us a little bit about what you have planned following the tour?  

I just put out “Road to Happiness” which is a new song. And this is like the lead up to my second album. So, basically, I’m going to go over to Europe, come back, and have a tour in a lot of the same places that I was just here with Sam for the fall. And then there are some songs that are going to start coming out.

If you could go back and give your younger self any piece of advice, what would it be?  

No one knows what they’re doing. Stop looking for someone who knows what they’re doing. I still catch myself thinking that somebody older — some dude, some white dude –needs to tell me what to do. There’s definitely been people in my career that I have overly trusted thinking people are there to help you. But the people that are going to help you the most are going to say, “What’s your answer? Let me help you find your answer.” People who say “I know what you’re supposed to do. I know what you’re supposed to wear. I know what you’re supposed to look like,” they’re doing it for them. And when there are a lot of people who are younger, it’s just … this is how the world works.


You can get tickets to see Cam on her Road to Happiness tour here.

You can follow Cam here: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Website

Interview transcribed by About Magazine staff member, Megan Prevost.