Corny and bombastic in a way only Babyface could possibly pull off, this is the Ariana Grande song the singer would pick if she for some reason needed to audition for American Idol -- she is singing.
Ariana Grande - “Why Try” (2014)
This amped-up straight-pop single somehow feels totally fresh and in line with My Everything’s dance-ready aesthetic -- plus, listeners get a healthy dose of spine-tingling belting.
Ariana Grande - “My Everything” (2014)
There are very few pop singers in 2016 who can pull off total schmaltz. Grande, with her Broadway bona fides and unapologetic love of show tunes, is among them -- which means she’s able to take a classic piano-driven ballad (co-written by Taylor Parks, who also had a hand in The Internet’s banger “Just Sayin/I Tried”), and turn it up to full-on tearjerker status.
Ariana Grande - “Be My Baby” (2014)
Grande brought buzzy producer Cashmere Cat (who’s finally preparing to drop his debut after producing tracks for everyone from Kanye West to Britney Spears) onboard for this album cut, lending its glossy Scandinavian sound a little edge (and a LOT of synths).
"All My Love,” Major Lazer feat. Ariana Grande & Machel Montano (2014)
Grande flexes her EDM chops here with a little help from the currently infallible Major Lazer and soca star Machel Montano -- it’s a frantic dancefloor anthem (the DJ trio’s specialty) framed by the bubbly dembow that’s become de rigueur for 2016 chart-toppers. Released six months later, this might have been right up there with Bieber and “Cheerleader.”
Ariana Grande - “Wit It This Christmas” (2015)
Certainly among the most seductive holiday tunes in recent memory, “Wit It” finds Ariana (she co-wrote the track) unabashedly subverting just about every Christmas cliche: “Be my drummer boy, I’m the only drum that you gonna play” etc. Nevertheless, the trappy R&B production (just with jingle bells to supplement the hi-hat) makes this Ariana Grande song too much fun not to play year-round.
Ariana Grande - “Knew Better/Forever Boy”(2016)
Easily the strongest track on Dangerous Woman (and, notably, Ryan Tedder’s only co-write on the project), this spacey five-minute jam evolves from slinky R&B into four-on-the-floor house -- showcasing Grande’s two strongest genres. Her easy vocal style begs heavy grooves, and with its defiantly non-radio tempo and flow this addictive beat delivers. Plus, who can resist a love story?
Ariana Grande - “Knew Better Part 2” (2016)
Stay with me: the remix is almost as good as the original. About three steps away from a Big Sean diss track (and better for it), this super-SoundCloud version of the track finds AG stretching out, and even throwing in a few bars -- which are substantially more decent than the headline “Ariana Grande Raps” would suggest. “Part 2” hints at an alt-Ariana (one not exclusively wed to working with pop hitmakers, at least), and though the producer of the new version isn’t credited, the aesthetic (and the lyric “got a new dude”) recall new beau Mac Miller...
“My Favorite Part,” Mac Miller feat. Ariana Grande (2016)
Off Miller’s latest, The Divine Feminine, this sugar-sweet duet hints at the possibility of Ariana going Full Mariah -- embracing slow jams, dedications, and R&B grooves for days.