Friday, August 2nd, 2013

Ariana Grande – Baby I

Pop sabermetrics: Mac Miller is worth -0.17 on the Jukebox…


Crystal Leww: I don’t know how well this is going to do chart wise, but Ariana Grande is doing a fine job of launching her career in my eyes. I’ve listened to this song on repeat many times in the last week, often alternating with “Fantasy” by Mariah Carey. She proves that she doesn’t need a rap interlude from a dude to bring out the joy. She’s full of that infectious girlish glee all by herself.

Edward Okulicz: Glorious, euphoric, and yet as light as a feather, “Baby I” coos like a less-elastic-throated Mariah with a Britney circa “Oops… I Did It Again!” yeah-yeah-yeah come-hither to the verses. Of course, all the trilling doesn’t help if the song’s heavy and flat, but the chorus here is whipped cream and butterflies and stolen glances from crushes and maybe crack as well.

Alfred Soto: She’s aiming for the insouciance of early Mariah Carey, and it comes through in the last fifty seconds, not to mention Aaliyah’s talent for hurrying through a cumbersome verse. The song’s a non-entity though.

Patrick St. Michel: It’s not quite as immediate as “The Way,” but “Baby I” comes darn close. It’s an intricately produced song that sounds easy-breezy, everything spaced out to emphasize Grande’s voice. It sometimes goes overboard — probably don’t need all the clicks in the background, and we get it, she has a great voice, we don’t need a bunch of examples of her range — but still sounds great. 

Will Adams: “Baby I” works because it operates on two functions: providing both a nostalgia kick and a fresh pop moment. Ariana and her team have taken a left turn from her contemporaries, opting out of dancefloor stompers and going for R&B gold instead. It’s filling a niche that has a wide open spot. In doing so, however, there’s an immediate callback to summer jams of old, whether that’s “Fantasy” or “I Want You” or both. “Baby I” is fantastic in its own right, though. The frantic vocal stepping communicates Ariana’s loss for words beautifully, and her performance everywhere else is top notch. It’s one thing to do the vocal gymnastics, and it’s another to make them seem effortless. As long as she can prove to be versatile, Ariana is poised for a fantastic debut.

Katherine St Asaph: I know we’re all supposed to faint over any singer who sounds remotely like early Ashanti, but there’s an unenunciated, forced huskiness to Grande’s voice that suggests the sound isn’t totally natural for her. (I hate to use the term, but try singing with duckface and you’ll start to hear what I mean. Or compare her verses to her belting.) It’s awesome that this sound is now chic enough that starlets are contorting their voices to sing it, but so far it’s rather studied for what’s otherwise a delightfully fizzy love song.

Anthony Easton: The mania that this track places over her fairly mediocre voice makes this seem more anonymous, just because they are trying so hard to add personality.?

Brad Shoup: It’s all very clever, from the title’s minor enigma on down. “Baby I” is about what Grande knows and can do. Perhaps one day, it’ll include constructing a believable object. But those bumblebee runs, assured note choices and synth plucks are totally enough for now.

Ramzi Awn: This is a beautiful song, but I can’t listen to it ever again. Like, ever.     

John Seroff: I was blind to Grande’s tweentastic career up until now but you hardly need a wiki page to know she “is mainly influences [sic] by Mariah Carey.” “Baby I” is total Bizarro-world “Emotions” in high-definition but with less swing. YouTube suggests Grande isn’t totally a studio construct but the congestion and tension in her voice is of a piece of “Baby”‘s rigid scaffolding; every choice feels calculated and constipated. I’m tacking on an extra point for the doubletime outro and as a penny in the well toward more sinuous and more fun pop in her future.

Reader average: [8.61] (13 votes)

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5 Responses to “Ariana Grande – Baby I”

  1. Looks like my last minute blurb didn’t make the cut. I may have been mildly inhebriated when I wrote it, so maybe it’s for the best. Still, it’s a 9 for me.

  2. subhead writer should apply to nate silver

  3. I like this. And her new single Right There is pretty darn good too (although I would’ve wanted another song from the album to be the single). Looking forward to Singles Jukebox’s take on that.

  4. You won’t have too long to wait for our take!

    Which song were you hoping for?

  5. Thanks, just saw the new review! Personally, I would’ve loved the more neo-soul(?) tracks like Honeymoon Avenue or Daydreamin.

    Right There may have overall stronger commercial appeal, but it doesn’t show any new side of Ariana. I’ll even say it’s dangerously close to making her seem one-dimensional, which isn’t very good given how young and fragile Ariana’s career still is.