Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Ariana Grande ft. Big Sean – Right There



Will Adams: “Right There” neatly summarizes the major failing of Yours Truly. The first five seconds, in which Grande flips up into that whistle register, should be the clue. The relentless positioning of Grande as Mariah Reincarnated has resulted in a competent song that has been polished into oblivion in order to sound more convincing. Furthermore, the insistence upon the parallel means stumbling to the wrong side of the cohesive/samey divide. “Retread” doesn’t begin to describe how “Right There” takes “The Way” and merely switches up the duet. It sounds fine, sure, but I have no doubt that Grande’s professionalism could have been channeled into more diverse forms. 

Patrick St. Michel: Ariana Grande’s album has some really nice moments that find her extending beyond the ’90s-pop-revivalist tag she’s been given (even those moments are spectacular, too). “Right There” is not one of them, as it is a virtual rewrite of “The Way.” Which isn’t bad, considering that song is one of the year’s best. But you’d think they could have mixed it up beyond the exact same “guest first, then Ariana, then guest again, then she belts to the end” formula. And avoided the semi-miracle of finding a way to trade down from Mac Miller.

Brad Shoup: The second “Way” is preferable. Mariah’s tightly-held sense of pleasure is all over Grande’s flourishes, and she nails the Terius-style “ayy”s. At a couple points, the track summons “Buy U a Drank,” which is an awesome song so that’s fine. If you appreciate pastiche (or Billboard guessing games, whichever), you’re gonna have a blast.

Zach Lyon: If a million pop writers yammer into your ear about all the songs that should‘ve been the next and probably last single, know that it’s because “Right There” is the only song on Yours Truly that doesn’t release any new information into the world. Everyone probably has a different pick (and don’t let any of them tell you otherwise — it’s actually “Better Left Unsaid”), because Grande’s been given the license and circumstance to genre-bend in ways young R&B singers just aren’t, and unlike, say, Miley, she never sounds too much like a tourist. None of this is a con for “Right There,” a perfectly pedestrian choice with a marketable feature just sitting right there on track three. Although Big Sean sounds like he never got a grasp on the context — who would’ve? — and although the video has this obsession with folding fans that registers as viscerally creepy to me, the least interesting song on the album is still a fine single. Extra point for the ayys.

Jonathan Bradley: It’s time to come clean, both to you guys and to myself: I’ve ceased despising Big Sean for his relentless mediocrity, and sometimes I even find myself enjoying his robotic flow and awkward wordplay. No foul for having him on this song, though he doesn’t have the chemistry Grande had with Mac Miller. (You’re welcome to interpret that as backhanded compliment.) “Right There” has all the fluffiness that’s made Grande’s Yours Truly one of 2013’s best surprises, but it’s neither as inventive nor ingratiating as that album’s highlights.

Crystal Leww: We can talk about Ariana Grande’s technical ability and her ridiculous vocal range that evokes Mariah Carey comparisons all day, but what’s really stood out is her conviction for the heart skipping, always-and-forever honeymoon-happiness emotion that she puts out there. Every review of this album that has given all the credit to Babyface and Harmony Samuels is insulting; the way that she ascends into the “I really need you/I really love you” at the end of the second chorus is all vocal performance, baby. Big Sean takes a lot of criticism for being a huge goofy dork, but he turns in a guest verse here that is surprisingly referential to the source material. Lil Kim and Lil Cease in “Crush on You” both rapped about men providing for their ladies with Kim specifically rejecting the need for a man, proudly proclaiming “Keep your stones set/I got my own baguettes.” In “Right There,” Big Sean tells the story about falling in love with a down-to-earth gal who loves him even if he takes her to the drive-thru. His verse perfectly toes the line between charming and corny, and the realization that he’s paying homage to a rap great makes him smart, too. Apparently Grande’s experimenting with her next album, but a full album full of these duets that evoke Ja Rule/Ashanti is totally fine with me.

David Lee: Tricked out with sugary multi-tracked vox and confetti showers of percussion, this refitting of “Crush On You”s late-90’s luxe matches Ariana’s brand of fluttery infatuation. And if this was just her sighing through melismatic fits of devotion for an unidentified love interest, there’s no telling if this pop thermal would ever stop rising. Big Sean? More like Big Fucking Monkeywrench. Big Sean’s verses in and of themselves don’t muck up the system – to perceive his lyrical missteps as anything other than nuisances or punchlines at this point is to get trolled. But that these raps exist on this song, a track so beholden to its sonic source material, invites an unfortunate comparison. On “Crush On You,” Lil’ Kim met Lil’ Cease and Biggie’s gruff come-ons with equal verve and sexual bravado. Here, however, Big Sean takes Ariana’s daydreams of eternal loyalty and – to paraphrase Julianne Escobedo Shepherd’s review of Nothing Was The Same -jizzes on them. When she looks into his eyes, she loses track of time, which is cool because he’s got her, but also did you know that he had some girls missionary and his black book was as thick as a Bible? The resulting dynamic is awkward if not downright unsettling. Somehow, though, Ariana’s sunny commitment to the song’s conceit and Harmony Samuels’s rich production give “Right Here” enough lift for it to float, Big Sean be damned.

Katherine St Asaph: I still find Ariana Grande a little unconvincing with this breathy, mushmouth fake-Ashanti pose, but on “Right There” it’s well-cushioned by backing vocals, and I’m actually up for crushy swoony featherweight stuff this time around. As for Big Sean, Ashanti had to put up with Ja Rule.

Alfred Soto: Cooing and sighing and winking, Grande has spent her life imitating the Mariah Carey of Music Box and once heard Ashanti’s “Happy,” and the material is as diaphanous as Carey and Ashanti’s album tracks.

Reader average: [6.42] (7 votes)

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12 Responses to “Ariana Grande ft. Big Sean – Right There”



  2. I love the two sides of Big Sean that Crystal and David present :)

  3. I also like how the video makes him The Priest and not the love interest!

  4. Age-appropriate and properly diverse music videos! Yay!

  5. (I didn’t write anything on this because I’m just like entranced by the music video, it’s super cute and totally overriding anything I might have thought about the song itself. & yeah I like the fans too. It’s cute. Cute touches.)

  6. Re: David’s (very good) blurb… I’ve given up on expecting a rap/sung collab to be tonally consistent. The industry seemingly will always see rappers as either a rhythmic element or a Klout boost, and I’m sure most rappers have a backlog of pop insertables they can call up when some producer calls long-distance. That said, I thought this worked ok. The humblebrag used-to-be-a-player thing is kind of a hallowed trope.

  7. Everything I need to know about Big Sean is contained within the line “My new girl is on Glee and shit, probably making more money than me and shit!” and this series of pictures: It’s all an act! Big Sean is trying to be gross but he’s secretly a sweetheart!

  8. lmao zach it should be “lovin’ it”

  9. “Piano” or “Honeymoon Avenue,” please.

  10. cosign “Piano”

  11. “lovin’ it” is a great song and a terrible single! “better left unsaid” is a great song and a great single but mostly because i hate everyone who tried to convince me it’s a bad song and i want to punish them

    and for other reasons, but this isn’t tumblr

  12. Re: that Sean/Naya link up there

    Someone but Medium Sean an oxford that fits, c’mon

    Starting the Kickstarter today