R&Biana Grande: The Chart-Topping Mogul is Back with a New Album (and Sound) in Positions

Ariana Grande finds herself exploring elements of love and pleasure in her sixth studio album. With instrumentals reminiscent of her 2015 EP Christmas & Chill, Grande taps into the R&B realm with playful songwriting and tracks sprinkled with dashes of soul, disco, and trap.

Collaborating with the likes of Doja Cat, the Weeknd, and Ty Dolla $ign, Positions gives listeners a different side of Ari. While the superstar has stayed primarily in the Pop lane over her career, this album expands on the trap-pop and R&B sound heard in Sweetener and Thank U, Next. Notable producers on the project include London on da Track, Murda Beatz, the Rascals, and Tommy Brown to name a few. In the short time it has been out, Positions has already reached No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, making it Grande’s fifth album to achieve the accolade. With 14 tracks, there is something to satisfy every kind of Ariana fan.

As someone who has been a strong advocate of Ariana crossing over into R&B, this has to be my favorite album of hers aside from Yours Truly. That being said, here’s a quick rundown of some of the standouts from Positions:

“Obvious”

In this sweet and melodic track, Grande sings about how her current partner has opened her up to believe in love again. “I love the thought of you never leavin’ / Days repeatin’ / Gettin’ steps up on the treadmill while you sleepin / Never thought I’d believe in love again.” The lyrics come from a place of gratitude, with Ari expressing to her partner that how she feels about him is “obvious.” As my personal favorite on the album, this song is soft yet introspective, giving us a glimpse into Ariana’s feelings from a healed stage in her life.

“Love Language”

As one of the groovier tunes, “Love Language” is a disco-influenced song that sounds like something you would hear in a 70s roller skating rink. Featuring songwriting from frequent collaborator Victoria Monét and production from Tommy Brown, this track sounds very atypical from the rest of Ariana’s discography. Grande wants to understand how to express her affection to her partner, singing, “Teach me how to love you / I’m unlearning what ain’t right / I want you to keep speaking my love language.

“My Hair”

Ariana ventures into neo-soul with this intimate and playful song. A jazzy guitar riff and trumpet echoes throughout the track, paired nicely with Grande’s breathy cadence. Referencing her distinguishable high ponytail, Grande sings “So run your hands through my hair / Baby, ’cause that’s why it’s there / Come run your hands through my hair / Ooh, baby, so don’t you be scared.” Towards the end of the track, Grande effortlessly hits her signature whistle tones over this soulful instrumental. 

Written by: Nathalie Lum

Photo credit: Billboard

Linkin Park Releases Album Hybrid Theory (20th Anniversary Edition)

When you think of Linkin Park, one thing that comes to mind is Chester Bennington, the lead singer. Bennington was 41 years old when we lost the talented singer to suicide; however, his legacy lives today through music with the band Linkin Park. Their music provides the tools in dealing with trauma; both fans and Chester benefited from it.   


Screenshot of Chester Bennington from Instagram: @chesterbe

On October 24, 2000, rock band Linkin Park released their debut album “Hybrid Theory,” which changed the rock music world. Twenty years later, the band releases their highly anticipated “Hybrid Theory: 20th Anniversary Edition” via Warner Records.

The anniversary edition includes original songs from the album and unreleased tracks, including the highly demanded track “pictureboard,” which fans have requested for the past twenty years. The anniversary album also includes never before heard demos from twenty years ago, rarities, B-sides, DVDs, and 95 minutes of never-before-seen footage and other extras. Band member Mike Shinoda did an unboxing of the twenty-anniversary edition, which can be viewed here.

Extras in the limited-edition box set include an 80-page book containing contributions from the band and unseen photos, a cassette reproduction of the original 2-track street team sampler, a poster of Chester Bennington, three lithographs, and replica tour laminate. Purchase of the box set, which includes these items if in stock are at linkinpark.com


Screenshot of Linkin Park Hybrid Theory 20th Anniversary Box Set Contents from linkinpark.com

Linkin Park launched nonprofit 501 (c)(3) Music For Relief in 2005 to support and aid victims of natural disasters and prevent such tragedies. Music For Relief has raised over $9 million for victims worldwide, ranging from disasters including Hurricane Katrina, Wenchuan Earthquake in China, the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe, and the two 2010 earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, and Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. 

Linkin Park Hybrid Theory defined a generation by incorporating alternative rock, hip-hop, and electronic. The album officially certified 12 times platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), reports sales of at least 12 million copies. Singles for the album included “Crawling,” “In the End,” and “One Step Closer” with single “In the End,” reaching a milestone of 1-billion views on YouTube this past summer, following the music video for “Numb.” Awards from the album include a Grammy for Best Hard Rock Performance for Crawling, and then Best Rock Video for “In the End” at the MTV Video Music Awards.

You can stream “Hybrid Theory 20th Anniversary Edition” on Spotify and Apple Music.

Written By: Mike Stark @MikeStarkCA on Twitter and Instagram





5 R&B Artists That You Need to Be Listening to Before the Year Ends

The past year has seen some great releases in the R&B world. Since spending the past 7 months in quarantine, I’ve gotten the chance to listen to and soak in the newer, promising acts within the industry. Let’s dive into some artists that you need to add to your playlist before the end of 2020.

Mariah the Scientist

Since releasing her label debut album Master with RCA Records in late 2019, the Atlanta singer-songwriter is a budding artist to keep an eye out for. Mariah the Scientist, who derives her name from once being a biology major, dropped out of college in 2018 to pursue music full-time. Despite being a newcomer, Mariah is one of the more interesting artists that I’ve listened to. She has had some interesting collaborations, including songs with Lil Baby and Trippie Redd, but her voice somehow makes it mesh. I’m excited to see how her career grows in the coming years.

Song recommendation: Beetlejuice

Lucky Daye

With his first studio album Painted earning him four nominations at the 2020 Grammy Awards, Lucky Daye has quickly made a name for himself in the industry. Since then, he has collaborated with platinum-selling artist Kehlani and has been featured on the fourth season soundtrack of HBO’s hit show Insecure. His smooth-as-butter voice is either coupled with bouncy production or slow ballads, showcasing how versatile his sound can be. In a DJBooth interview, he cites his musical influences from greats such as Prince, Lauryn Hill, Stevie Wonder, and Rick James. Lucky has shown that he knows how to navigate his sound, giving him great potential to develop as an artist.

Song recommendation: Late Night

Victoria Monét

Monét stepped into her debut project Jaguar already with a decorated list of songwriting credits for the likes of Nas, Ariana Grande, and Kendrick Lamar to name a few. Her light voice over groovy bass lines put her in a category of her own. You can hear the influences of disco and funk in her Khalid collaboration “Experience,” in which she sings “I’m all out of love, you gave it away / I’m hoping that experience can get you to change.” Her lyrics are playful yet demanding, which is what makes her music so fun to listen to. Victoria Monét’s confident and sensual songwriting will leave you wanting more.

Song recommendation: Big Boss (Interlude)

Kiana Ledé 

Hailing from Arizona, Kiana Ledé is not from your typical R&B-influenced region. Nevertheless, the 23-year old singer thrives in creating raw, emotional music that has successfully found its way onto the charts. What I admire about her is that she isn’t afraid to wear her heart on her sleeve, and it’s reflected beautifully through her songs. In an interview with Elle, she speaks on her ability to share these emotions through her music, saying, “I’m able to be open about them because I’m talking from a healed place, a very removed place; I’ve already processed all those emotions.” Ledé takes ownership of her feelings and is very self-aware, which is what compelled me to dive further into the rest of her discography. Her album KIKI is a project that I highly recommend listening to from start to finish.

Song recommendation: Forfeit

Leven Kali

Leven Kali is definitely the most underrated artist on this list (in my opinion), but that doesn’t stop him from creating absolute bangers. I was first introduced to him through his song “Do U Wrong” featuring Syd, the lead singer of The Internet. He has released music reminiscent of the early 2000’s R&B sound–which can be heard in tracks like “MADE 4 U,” also featuring Syd. If Leven stays this consistent with releasing quality music, he’s bound to gain the recognition he deserves.

Song recommendation: Joy



Written By: Nathalie Lum

Photo Sources: Pitchfork and Lab.fm



SZA’s Latest Song: Why It ‘Hit Different’

After three long years, the SZA single hiatus is finally over.

Despite dealing with label delays and vocal injuries, the platinum-selling R&B singer returns with her first release as a lead artist since 2017. Since dropping her critically-acclaimed debut album Ctrl, SZA has only appeared on 10 tracks– all as a featured artist. Fans have been patiently waiting for solo music and the time has finally come. “Hit Different” delivers a mellow, contemporary R&B sound coupled with SZA’s angelic cadence and Ty Dolla $ign’s melodic vocals.

The track features a chorus sung by Ty Dolla $ign, paired with the nostalgic production of The Neptunes. Pharrell Williams’ signature 4-count start can be heard at the beginning, while SZA and Ty Dolla $ign collaborate effortlessly throughout the rest of the record. The song is elegantly smooth and laid back, branching off of that similar sound that made Ctrl so unique. The singer begins with “I was into you from the beginning even if you wasn’t mine / Scared to admit my shortcomings led to overdraft in this affair, declining.” She continues on about her entanglement: “Can’t trust decision when you near me / Get myself caught in your crossfire.”

Photo Source: Vulture

SZA excels at conveying vulnerability through her music, with “Hit Different” being no different. Her verses are deep-cutting and raw, making you feel like she’s confiding in you. Her performance on this slow jam is nicely complimented by Ty Dolla $ign’s harmonies, making this the perfect comeback single to keep us fans at bay until her next release (at least for now). You can listen to the song and watch the official video here.

Written By: Nathalie Lum

Photo Sources: Entertainment Tonight Canada and Vulture