Ariana Grande “Be Alright” Is So 90s & These Similar Songs Prove It
Ever since she ditched the Moonlight and rebranded herself a Dangerous Woman , Ariana Grande has been killing it. And, hot off the release of Dangerous Woman's title track on March 11 is another, not as dangerous (but still sort of risky) follow-up: Grande's newest single "Be Alright" is now on Spotify and iTunes. And I say "risky" because, although in many ways it's your typical modern Top 40 track we've come to expect from the pint-sized pop starlet, it has a bit of a throwback quality to it. In fact, "Be Alright" totally sounds like a '90s song at heart.
OK, so it's not that risky. We've all seen Grande play with "retro" for a hot second when she incorporated those horns on "Focus." Still, "Be Alright" is different because it kind of jumps all over the decade in a cool, throwback sort of way. In case you're confused about what I'm talking about, I harvested some tracks that "Be Alright" may have descended from. And hey, if you dust off your OG copy of Now That's What I Call Music, I'm sure there's even more family members of "Be Alright."
But one step at a time. Here are a few '90s classics that "Be Alright" might have borrowed from.
Mariah Carey – "Always Be My Baby"
This comparison shouldn't be a shock, because in the early aughts of Grande's career, she was dubbed sort of a Mini-Mariah. "Always Be My Baby" might be a weird Carey pick to compare "Be Alright" to initially — it's closer to a ballad than anything dancey — but listen to that back beat, again, and it becomes clear the sound of "Be Alright" is pretty much a take on "Always Be My Baby." Just simplified and sped-up.
TLC – "Baby, Baby, Baby"
Honestly, it seems like late '90s TLC would have more in common with Grande than their earlier years. In fact, I originally was eyeing the "No Scrubs" video because it has a similar space-station vibe as "Focus" (although I guess you can say that about literally any music video made in the late '90s). But, the reason "Baby, Baby, Baby" ends up here is because of the light piano music in there... and it's almost indistinguishable from Grande's light piano music in "Be Alright."
Destiny’s Child – "Say My Name"
Musically? Not very similar. Something in the vocals trips me up, though: In "Be Alright" it's plausible that Grande's voice is being overlapped a few times rather than being backed up by Destiny's other children, but hearing it like that still made me make the connection. Also, Destiny's Child do some great fast-talking here, and Grande showcases her own fast-talking on "Be Alright."
Christina Aguilera – "Come On Over (All I Want Is You)"
Do I detect some piano in this, or am I going crazy (plz don't answer that)? "Come On Over" is otherwise, again, musically pretty different, but there's a nice dance-iness that makes me feel like it would get along decently with "Be Alright." Maybe one didn't descend from the other, per se, but it's more like your much older step-sister that you just happen to get along with perfectly. You know, very Mistress America.
OK, so maybe it's a bit of a stretch, but I still think that Grande's new song has an interesting, all-over-the-place '90s vibe. Listen to the track below and you can hear for yourself how "Be Alright" draws from the '90s ...and maybe early 2000s. Don't think I didn't notice the "It's Gonna Be Me" voice beat-boxing in the chorus.