Ariana Grande released the lead single ‘Positions’ from her upcoming album, as well as its corresponding politically-charged music video, just hours after the final presidential debate on Oct. 23.
On Oct. 17, Grande posted a cryptic video of her typing the word “positions” in slow motion, hinting at the title of her next song. She later announced that her sixth studio album would release on Oct. 30.
The R&B and trap inspired pop song was met with commercial success. It debuted at number one both the U.S. and Global Spotify charts, as well as reached almost 3 million national streams and 6 million internationally.
On Apple Music, “Positions” debuted in the number two spot, just behind Luke Combs’ “Forever After All.” This was her first solo release since her previous album, “Thank U, Next,” following high-profile collaborations with Lady Gaga and Justin Bieber.
The track deviates from the reliance on heavy bass and synth on her previous album, “Thank U, Next,” and features acoustic guitar picking, violin and the sound of crickets chirping. It is a more understated debut compared to her previous lead singles such as “No Tears Left to Cry” and “Thank U, Next.”
Despite its comparatively mellow production, its simplistic melody, accompanied with the use of abab rhyme schemes, creates a tune that is distinctive to Ariana’s style.
“Positions” received several generally positive reviews. Idolator’s Mike Wass said the track is her “best lead single to date. It’s the kind of slick, streaming-friendly R&B-pop song that worms its way into your consciousness and simply refuses to leave.”
The lyrics are a loving tribute to her new boyfriend, Dalton Gomez. It expresses her willingness to try new things in their relationship, with lines such as, “I’m in the Olympics, way I’m jumpin’ through hoops / Know my love infinite, nothin’ I wouldn’t do /That I won’t do, switchin’ for you.”
However, she redefines the meaning of the lyrics in the blockbuster music video, which depicts Grande as president of the United States. In one scene she leads a cabinet meeting accompanied by a diverse team, while she cooks in a kitchen in another. Here, switching positions is not about adventurousness in a relationship, but about the multiple roles women play.
In a review for NME, Hannah Mylrea states that the message of the video is “made all the more pertinent given that Grande dropped the White House-themed video just hours after the final Presidential debate of the 2020 election.”
Grande reminds viewers of the potential of a female president, effectively “switching positions” from the status quo.