With its plucked, chiming guitars reminiscent of The Police, “Bad Idea” skulks around with a malevolence that’s unsettling for an Ariana Grande song. A spiritual sequel to “Let Me Love You,” Ariana propositions a new lover purely to get over her ex: “I got a bad idea/ Yeah, I'ma call you over here to numb the pain.” Temptation is sweet, but this can’t possibly end well… can it? Twice, the track’s briefly interrupted by orchestral strings, emerging like sunlight through dark clouds -- until the beat comes back in, eventually giving way to an ominous chopped-and-screwed coda that lasts for a full minute. Subject matter aside, when it comes to Ariana’s music, there’s seemingly no such thing as a bad idea.
31. “Get Well Soon” (Sweetener, 2018)
Sweetener closes with “Get Well Soon,” an offbeat soul song that feels less produced than stitched together by Pharrell. Equal parts soothing and disorienting, the track’s full of text-message synth chimes, and call-and-response vocals that sound like Ariana’s lower-case tweets: “girl whats wrong wit u come back down?” Describing the song’s creation, she told ELLE: “I’ve always had anxiety, but it had never been physical before. There were a couple of months straight where I felt so upside down… It’s all the voices in my head talking to one another.” Sweetener, unlike Ariana’s past albums, has a moral to its story: if you feel depressed or anxious, don’t get stuck in your own head. Let other people bring you back down to earth, until you feel safe enough to calm yourself.
“Get Well Soon” ends mid-phrase, followed by 40 seconds of silence -- taking its length to 5:22, the date of last year’s tragic Manchester attacks. You can heal, but you’ll never forget.
30. “Sweetener” (Sweetener, 2018)
“Sweetener” sounds familiar, at first. Over a gospel chord progression, Ariana sings, “You come through like the sweetener you are/ To bring the bitter taste to a halt…” Until the beat drops: “And then you get it, get it, get it, get it!/ Hit it, hit it, hit it, hit it!/Flip it, flip it, flip it!”
“Sweetener” is the laugh-out-loud bubblegum-rap motivational we didn’t know we needed. A less earnest vocalist than Ariana couldn’t pull this off, nor a less eccentric producer -- Pharrell adds all sorts of cheeky ad-libs in the background, cheering her on. The two are an unconventional recipe, but a perfect salted caramel combination.
29. “Bang Bang” (Jessie J, Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj, My Everything deluxe edition bonus track, 2014)