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Every Ariana Grande album, ranked from worst to best

ariana grande sweetener world tour
Ariana Grande performs at Lollapalooza in 2019.Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for AG
  • Ariana Grande has released seven studio albums since 2013.

  • Business Insider's senior music reporter ranked them from worst to best, using a unique scoring method.

  • "Thank U, Next" took the top spot, while Grande's newest album "Eternal Sunshine" took third place.

In the decade-plus since Ariana Grande released her debut album, she has emerged as one of music's most powerful voices.

The 30-year-old singer-songwriter has broken chart records and racked up streaming numbers with her potent blend of pop, R&B, soul, and '90s diva-worthy vocals.

Business Insider's senior music reporter ranked all seven of her studio albums from worst to best. The unique scoring method assigns a point total to each song — weighing factors like listenability, ingenuity, and lyrical quality — divided by the total number of songs on each tracklist.

(Note: Grande's 2015 EP, "Christmas + Chill," and 2019 live album, "K Bye for Now," were not factored into these rankings.)

7. "Yours Truly"

yours truly ariana grande
"Yours Truly" was released on August 30, 2013.Republic Records

Final grade: 6.7/10

Grande's debut album "Yours Truly" is a portrait of a theater kid and an enthusiastic student of musical history.

The uneven tracklist is peppered with Broadway-inspired vocal runs, a cappella harmonies by The Rascals, and retro Mariah Carey-esque melodies. Grande draws upon everything from '90s diva pop ("Lovin' It") to '70s funk ("Right There") and East Coast hip-hop ("The Way").

When it works, it works extremely well. The best songs are youthful, fizzy, and infectious — particularly the album's lead single "The Way," which remains a God-tier song in Grande's discography.

But throughout "Yours Truly," Grande struggles to forge an identity amid the voices of her many idols. The album's overall tone can feel cloying and flimsy; there's no perspective in doe-eyed tracks like "Piano" or "Popular Song."

Its bright spots can't totally outshine the dim ones, and "Yours Truly" is split pretty evenly between the two. Four of its 12 songs are immediately skip-worthy, while two more are simply fluff.

God-tier songs: "The Way"

Worth listening to: "Honeymoon Avenue," "Baby I," "Right There," "Tattooed Heart," "You'll Never Know"

Background music: "Lovin' It," "Daydreamin'"

Skip: "Piano," "Almost Is Never Enough," "Popular Song," "Better Left Unsaid"

6. "My Everything (Deluxe)"

ariana grande my everything
"My Everything" was released on August 25, 2014.Republic Records

Final grade: 8/10

Despite the short break in between her first two albums, "My Everything" reintroduced Grande as a shrewd and ambitious star.

In creating her sophomore album, Grande didn't simply retread the successes of her debut, a trap that many young artists tend to fall into.

Instead, Grande studied the musical trends of the time — soaring hooks, sparkling synths, EDM-flavored production — and proved she could master them with a flick of her ponytail.

In its best moments, "My Everything" is confident and danceable without sounding corny or overproduced.

The album's singles are particularly excellent: "Problem" combines retro saxophone loops with a modern beat; "One Last Time" makes electro-pop sound spacious; "Break Free" has become a gay pride anthem. The Biz Markie-sampling deep cut "Only 1" is another clear standout, putting Grande's vocals on a deserved pedestal.

However, Grande was so ready to stake her place as a pop star that "My Everything" sacrificed personality and staying power in favor of trend-following and feature-grubbing. Catchy, hectic singles like "Bang Bang" and "Love Me Harder" made sense in 2014, but they just don't hit like they used to. Too much of the album sounds dated today; one could never call it "timeless."

God-tier songs: "One Last Time," "Only 1"

Worth listening to: "Problem (feat. Iggy Azalea)," "Break Free (feat. Zedd)," "Best Mistake (feat. Big Sean)," "Be My Baby (feat. Cashmere Cat)," "Break Your Heart Right Back (feat. Childish Gambino)," "Love Me Harder (feat. The Weeknd)"

Background music: "Intro," "Why Try," "Just a Little Bit of Your Heart," "My Everything"

Skip: "Hands on Me (feat. A$AP Ferg)," "Bang Bang (with Jessie J and Nicki Minaj)," "You Don't Know Me"

5. "Dangerous Woman"

ariana grande dangerous woman
"Dangerous Woman" was released on May 20, 2016.Republic Records

Final grade: 8.3/10

Although Grande traded her cat ears for latex gloves and a bunny mask, "Dangerous Woman" isn't just sexy for sexy's sake.

On both "Victorious" and "Yours Truly," Grande played the role of an eyelash-batting ingenue. "My Everything" cast her as a coquettish dance floor siren. But Grande's third album finally began to introduce her as a three-dimensional person — and a sexually empowered feminist, at that — rather than a caricature.

Grande's four-octave range allows her to sound at ease in any genre. "Dangerous Woman" takes full advantage of that fact. She's equally commanding on slinky slow burns ("Let Me Love You," "Leave Me Lonely") as on explosive pop romps ("Greedy," "Bad Decisions"). To this day, "Thinking Bout You" is one of her most impressive vocal performances.

Indeed, in terms of pure pop catharsis, "Dangerous Woman" is up there with the best of it.

This album is a euphoric listening experience with very few low points. However, that doesn't mean it's particularly artful or cohesive.

"Moonlight" is pure "Yours Truly"-era balladry, while four songs later, "Side to Side" revels in reggae; the try-hard trap song "Everyday" is directly followed by the dull acoustics of "Sometimes." This chaotic sequencing could be evocative if it felt intentional. Instead, it feels like a "This Is Ariana Grande" playlist on shuffle.

While there's something to be said for a complex woman whose talents and interests aren't easily delineated, "Dangerous Woman" plays like the work of a singles-focused pop star, rather than an artist with a fleshed-out vision.

God-tier songs: "Into You"

Worth listening to: "Dangerous Woman," "Moonlight," "Be Alright," "Side to Side," "Let Me Love You," "Greedy," "Leave Me Lonely," "Bad Decisions," "Knew Better / Forever Boy," "Thinking Bout You"

Background music: "I Don't Care"

Skip: "Everyday," "Sometimes," "Touch It"

4. "Positions (Deluxe)"

positions album ariana grande
"Positions" was released on October 30, 2021.Republic Records

Final grade: 8.7/10

By all accounts, "Positions" is the result of a happy, peaceful era in Grande's life.

The album is astonishingly cohesive, behaving much like a river; each song feels like an essential part of its natural energy. Grande's weightless vocals flow through the tracklist like a current.

Once you arrive at the final and best song, the river lets out into the ocean. You're left with an expansive, earned sense of gratitude. As I wrote for BI's first-listen review, Grande's previous two albums felt either meticulous or urgent or both. "Positions" feels free.

But that doesn't mean it's empirically better.

"Positions" is graceful, sure, and expertly executed. But the way it drifts and glides also feels very safe. Cohesion can be a double-edged sword; there are very few low points, but even fewer risks. It lacks the luminosity of "Sweetener" and the tenacity of "Thank U, Next."

Though "Positions" does contain glimmers of thrill and awe (usually when Grande is feeling particularly horny, as on "34+35" and "Nasty"), the album doesn't command attention from start to finish in the same way as its predecessors.

God-tier songs: "POV"

Worth listening to: "34+35," "Motive (with Doja Cat)," "Just Like Magic," "Off the Table (with The Weeknd)," "Six Thirty," "Safety Net (feat. Ty Dolla $ign)," "Nasty," "West Side," "Positions," "Obvious," "Test Drive," "Worst Behavior"

Background music: "Shut Up," My Hair," "Love Language," "Someone Like U - Interlude," "Main Thing"

Skip: "34+35 Remix (feat. Doja Cat and Megan Thee Stallion)"

3. "Eternal Sunshine"

ariana grande eternal sunshine album cover
"Eternal Sunshine" was released on March 8, 2024.Katia Temkin/Republic Records

Final grade: 8.8/10

After sitting with this album for less than a day, I feel comfortable saying that it's good. Extremely good. In fact, the production is immaculate, as is Grande's voice (which almost feels foolish to note because her voice is always immaculate).

However, "Eternal Sunshine" works much better as a collection of bops than it works as a coherent album. The narrative structure is all over the place and I don't feel like it taught me anything new about Grande, her worldview, or her psyche. We already know Grande is an masterful hitmaker — what else?

I'm hopeful and prepared for this album to grow on me. But as of writing, none of the best tracks — "Don't Wanna Break Up Again," "Eternal Sunshine," "We Can't Be Friends (Wait for Your Love)," and "I Wish I Hated You" — rank among Grande's God-tier songs. On the other hand, the album doesn't have any obvious skips, either.

In terms of sheer ear candy, you could argue this is Grande's best-sounding project. It demonstrates her growth as a producer, vocalist, and solitary songwriter. But it doesn't meet the emotional bar set by her two greatest works.

God-tier songs: N/A

Worth listening to: "Bye," "Don't Wanna Break Up Again," "Eternal Sunshine," "Supernatural," "True Story," "The Boy Is Mine," "We Can't Be Friends (Wait for Your Love)," "I Wish I Hated You," "Imperfect For You," "Ordinary Things (feat. Nonna)"

Background music: "Intro (End of the World)," "Saturn Returns Interlude," "Yes, And?"

Skip: N/A

2. "Sweetener"

sweetener ariana grande
"Sweetener" was released on August 17, 2018.Republic Records

Final grade: 10.7/10

"Sweetener" is blue-moon magic, and it's not just because the album is unlike anything else in Grande's catalog.

It's that Grande, who was approaching the peak of her fame, had become best known for her sexy bops and extraordinary voice. And yet, she crafted a shimmering, scaled-back tracklist using breathy vocals and weirdo production flourishes.

It's that she had recently weathered an actual nightmare when 22 fans died at her 2017 concert in Manchester, yet she emerged brighter, braver, and more herself than ever before.

Instead of retreating back into tried-and-true territory, Grande sang about anxiety and named a song after her (now-ex) fiancé. She exposed her beating heart, then probably folded actual audio of those thump-thump-thumps into the layers and harmonies of "Get Well Soon."

"Sweetener" is the kind of album you sink into, a cloudy world of Grande's own creation, both challenging and healing. It remains Grande's most original and experimental album to date. And while the 15-song tracklist certainly has a few duds, they're easily offset by its many highlights. The overall effect remains remarkably pure.

If Grande hadn't outdone herself with a no-skips album just six months later, "Sweetener" would easily be No. 1 on this list.

God-tier songs: "R.E.M," "God Is a Woman," "No Tears Left to Cry," "Get Well Soon"

Worth listening to: "Sweetener," "Successful," "Everytime," "Breathin," "Better Off," "Goodnight n Go," "Pete Davidson"

Background music: "Raindrops (An Angel Cried)," "Borderline (feat. Missy Elliott)"

Skip: "Blazed (feat. Pharrell Williams)," "The Light Is Coming (feat. Nicki Minaj)"

1. "Thank U, Next"

thank u next ariana grande
"Thank U, Next" was released on February 8, 2019.Republic Records

Final grade: 11.7/10

"Thank U, Next" is the natural No. 1 on this list because it's the culmination of everything Grande does best. It's an ideal blend of her pristine vocals, catchy hooks, R&B instincts, and fearless lyrical soul-bearing.

It's everything she has honed and fought for. Only an artist with tremendous talent, clout, and emotional strength could have produced and released an album like this.

"Thank U, Next" is easily the most engaging listening experience in Grande's catalog — but it's also one of the most iconic pop albums in recent memory.

That she managed to siphon this music from the depths of personal tragedy makes the effect even more sublime.

There's not a single skip on this tracklist. If I were forced to choose, "NASA" and "Make Up" are the weakest of the bunch, but that certainly doesn't mean they're bad. In fact, it's a testament to the strength of this album that its "worst" songs are just slightly less dazzling than the rest.

God-tier songs: "Needy," "In My Head," "Thank U, Next"

Worth listening to: "Imagine," "Bloodline," "Fake Smile," "Bad Idea," "Ghostin," "7 Rings," "Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I'm Bored"

Background music: "NASA," "Make Up"

Skip: N/A

*Final album score based on songs per category (2 points for "God-tier song," 1 point for "Worth listening to," .5 for "Background music," 0 for "Press skip").

Read the original article on Business Insider