Ahead of its scheduled Monday release, Ariana Grande's second album My Everything leaked onto SoundCloud. Unfortunately, the tracks have been pulled, but as expected, some have found their way onto separate corners of the web.
We want to re-experience the songs on Monday when the full album is released, but at first listen, it's obvious Grande is still working in the same lane as she was on her first album (last year'sYours Truly). That album was great, but the problem with releasing records so closely together is that you risk not showing enough growth. If you liked Yours Truly, you'll like My Everything! But you likely won't be surprised.
That said, it could still grow on us. For now, here are some track-by-track impressions from our first listen, plus links to what's available online. (Note that leaks are being actively pulled, so links may go dead soon. Enjoy while you can!)
"Intro" – A really quick delight, and a great table-setter for the album. There's not much to it, but she knows we want to dig in, so she doesn't worry about too much pomp or circumstance.
"Problem" (f/ Iggy Azalea) – Enough of a standout to be the lead single, and still feels a piece with the rest of the record. It's still a kick to hear Iggy roar on after the second chorus.
"One Last Time" – This sounds like a bit of mid-2000s dance pop, but in the best way. It's working in that lane of short-term nostalgia that most of the Internet makes its bones off of. It's a pretty great David Guetta production.
"Why Try" – This feels definitively Mariah again, in a way the rest of the record tends to avoid. It's a great showcase for Grande's voice, though.
"Break Free" (f/ Zedd) – As will quickly become evident, Grande's big hook on this album is the range of producers she's working with. She's not just a Max Martin artist – and she really blossoms when she gets some new influences. "Break Free" may have a ridiculous video, but Zedd really did her right here.
"Best Mistake" (f/ Big Sean) – "Right There," from Yours Truly, is quite a bit better than "Best Mistake" in the Big Sean collaboration face-off. But this one's still solid! It just doesn't feel fresh, and if you're going to release a second album the year after the first, everything should be feeling new.
"Be My Baby" (f/ Cashmere Cat) – Easily her best collaboration with a producer. It's an utter jam, and it stands out on the album. If this isn't a single, Grande's missing out on a chance to dominate radio.
"Break Your Heart Right Back" (f/ Childish Gambino) – There's a lot of good ideas here, but it turns into a bit of a jumble. The "I'm Coming Out" sample? Great! The Childish Gambino verse? Totally solid. But it takes until the latter part of the song to really catch fire, and it still feels overstuffed.
"Love Me Harder" (f/ The Weeknd) – Another standout, more for Grande's vocal performance than The Weeknd's work. Martin's production complements her work well, though.
"Just a Little Bit of Your Heart" – Harry Styles of One Direction wrote this one, and credit to him, it's stunning. The lyricism is simple, but allows Grande's best assets – her gorgeous tone and effortless range – shine through. The spare production is really pretty.
"Hands on Me" (f/ A$AP Ferg) – Fun, catchy, sexy. This one hits the Ariana Grande trifecta with flourish and style. This Darkchild production (speaking of, huge applause to Rodney Jerkins for his work here) also benefits from an impressive A$AP Ferg feature.
"My Everything" – It's the lesser of the two ballads in some ways, but the lyrics – co-written by Grande – are much better suited to the mellifluous dips and peaks of her voice. This feels the most Mariah of any track other than "Why Try," for better and for worse.
"Only 1" – Such a shame this is only on the deluxe version of the album! This feels emblematic of the kind of music Grande wants to make – and she's quite good at it.
"You Don't Know Me" – As opposed to being a delightful throwback, this feels like a Jojo track left on the shelf. There's nothing particularly interesting about it. A total throw-away.