At the start of 2020, Ariana Grande reposted an article headlined, “Who is Ariana dating now?” with the tweet: “Spoiler for the rest of this year/probably my life: It’s no one. Please refer back to this tweet for future questions.”
This declaration of singledom was understandable, considering the stress of the 27-year-old’s tumultuous love life. In September 2018, Mac Miller, her ex-boyfriend of two years, tragically passed away from an accidental overdose. Her then-fianceé Pete Davidson later suggested her grief following Mac’s passing led to the end of their engagement. It was a cataclysmic period of heartbreak, which Grande addressed by standing tall on the bittersweet, respectful ode to her exes, Thank U, Next. The subsequent chart-topping album of the same name then threw Grande onto a 101-date world tour, which you’d presume would push dating further to the back of her mind.
However, by February 2020 it seemed Ariana Grande had jumped back on the saddle. Reports of a whirlwind romance with real estate tycoon Dalton Gomez surfaced after the two were caught snogging on Valentine’s Day, and they were later confirmed in the video for her Justin Bieber collab Stuck With U with an adorable, yet discreet, cameo of the two holding each other in their arms.
While Grande and Gomez have kept things relatively lowkey, there’s no doubt that fans will be reading into the lyrics of Positions as an insight into their relationship. And if this deliciously steamy album is anything to go by, they’re seriously into each other. Like, seriously.
Over the bouncy, trap-leaning beat of 34 + 35, Grande purrs about all-night romps that have “Got the neighbours yelling ‘Earthquake!’ /1.5 when I make the bed shake,” before drilling their sexual prowess in the song’s X‑rated hook: “Can you stay up all night? /Fuck me till the daylight?”. The horny honeymooning continues on Nasty, with lines like “Promise I’ma give it to you like you’ve never had it /I do it so good. It’s gon’ be hard to break the habit,” wrung out in Grande’s glossy falsetto over a slinky, melodic production.
But it’s not just about the sex. On the woozy, slow-burning ballad Safety Net (accompanied by the smooth crooner Ty Dolla $ign) Grande affirms that she and her lover are the real deal, even if they’ve only been together for a hot second: “You know you’re really something /how’d we get here so damn fast?” Again, on the lullabic closing track, POV, Grande confirms that this is no flash-in-the-pan romance: “I want to trust me the way that you trust me /cause nobody ever loved me like you do.”
There are a couple of club-friendly tracks (the verses of the Doja Cat featuring Motive are backed by a house beat, while there’s a subtle disco strut to Just Like Magic), but the album largely leans towards a silky and sultry R&B sound. While Thank U, Next was a self-affirming, no-holds-barred take on single life, Positions reveals a boo’d-up Grande who’s swapped nights out for nights in (not that this means she’s getting any more sleep, though). It’s a perfect soundtrack for a pandemic-riddled cuffing season. So do it like Ari: stay home, have sex and save lives.