Yours Truly is the debut studio album by Ariana Grande. Formerly titled Daydreamin', the album was released on August 30, 2013 through Republic Records. Incorporating R&B, pop and soul, Yours Truly was influenced by Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse, Christina Aguilera and Mariah Carey amongst other of Grande's idols.
- Honeymoon Avenue - 5:39
- Baby I - 3:17
- Right There - 4:07
- Tattooed Heart - 3:14
- Lovin' It - 3:00
- Piano - 3:54
- Daydreamin' - 3:54
- The Way - 3:31
- You'll Never Know - 3:47
- Almost is Never Enough - 3:34
- Popular Song - 3:20
- Better Left Unsaid - 3:32
For three years, "Yours Truly" underwent significant conceptual and sonic changes throughout that time.
Grande began working on the album in August of 2010 while she was filming the Nickelodeon series, "Victorious" and formally started to work on it with a record label after she was signed to Republic Records on August 10, 2011.
By September of that year, Grande already had 20 songs prepared and was going through the process of narrowing it down to 13 songs.
The first single, a bubblegum pop song called "Put Your Hearts Up", was released on December 12, 2011.
The single was aimed at young audiences (perhaps intending to cater to Grande's core audience, which at that time was almost entirely made up by kids who knew her from "Victorious").
During an interview in June 2012, Grande described everything on the album as being "50s, 60s doo-wop-inspired" and revealed that two new singles were going to be released before the album, one of which was called "Do You Love Me?" (featuring SkyBlu).
Other songs that Grande had rights to, named and later leaked as being part of the album included "Honeymoon Avenue", "Voodoo Love", "Pink Champagne", "Boyfriend Material", "Tattooed Heart", "Daydreamin'" and "You're My Only Shawty" (which was eventually given to Demi Lovato and featured on her 2011 album, "Unbroken").
In 2013, Grande met up with her label and expressed dissatisfaction with the direction the album was taking.
In several interviews during 2013, she admitted to having completely disliked her debut single, "Put Your Hearts Up", and not having an interest in pursuing music of that genre. She expressed a desire to make the type of music she grew up listening to, which was, "urban pop, 90s music."
Rapper Iggy Azalea turned down working on the album; however, she did collaborate with Grande on her second album, "My Everything."
The album was originally titled "Daydreamin" and set to be released during August of 2013.
"Yours Truly" is inspired by a variety of different artists, ranging from Amy Winehouse and Christina Aguilera to Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston.
Grande describes the album's first half is a "throwback" to the R&B music of the 1990s, and the second half is she describes as "something that is very unique and very special that I've sort of written" which is completely original.
In summation of the record, she stated: "So half of it is a throwback and like very familiar feeling, feel-good, and then half of it is something that I've created that's sort of special and unique and refreshing and wonderful and I love it".
"Yours Truly" explores a "retro style" sound mixing 1990s pop and R&B, with certain songs incorporating influences from mid-'90s hip hop, '50s piano pop, and doo-wop.
Scott Interrante from PopMatters complimented the music presented in the album and noted that compositionally and production wise, "tropes of both styles are blended together effortlessly."
As he perceived, "erratic programmed drums support the rich harmonies and piano chords of the more doo-wop songs and the R&B tracks are infused with a wide-eyed optimism more associated with the ‘60s pop style."
Pitchfork's Andrew Ryce felt that Grande opted "for a 90s hip-hop soul vibe that awkwardly sits with the more doo-wop-indebted songwriting."
The album opens with an orchestral intro that introduces the first track "Honeymoon Avenue", a downtempo song composed in the key of F-sharp major and set in a 4 4 time signature at a moderate tempo of 63 beats per minute.
The song explores the 1950s musical style mixing doo-wop with an urban-inspired sound. Lyrically, it uses several metaphors to speaks about someone in a car being driven by her (romantic) partner. The driver is stuck to the same old route and driving mode that may make them crash.
In interview with MTV, Grande explained its lyrics saying that "Honeymoon Avenue" "is about knowing you are at the end of a relationship and wishing it could not be the end and go back to the beginning and start over."
The second track "Baby I" is drenched in a "retro sound" from 1990s R&B and pop sonority. Lyrically, the song is a confession on Grande's behalf admitting a special love for someone and how she can't formulate her strong feelings into words.
The elements of "Baby I" are further illustrated by its use of finger snaps, a syncopated beat, horns and drums.
The third track "Right There" features guest appearance by rapper Big Sean. Musically, "Right There" also incorporates the influences frein 1990s R&B and urban music, mixing "stabbing synths", trap-inflected beat and a hip hop groove.
Reviewing the song, Jason Lipshutz from Billboard noted that "while Big Sean boasts about his sexual prowess, Grande flaunts her typically impressive melismas before ratcheting up the emotion for the finale."
The fourth track "Tattooed Heart" is a doo-wop song written in the key of G major with a tempo of 72 beats per minute in compound quadruple (128) time while Grande's vocals spans from D4 to F5.
"Piano" is built on a hand-clapped rhythm, pulsating beats and a piano loop.
On September 4, 2013, Billboard reported that "Yours Truly" would most likely sell between 110,000 and 120,000 copies in its first week in the United States by the end of September 11, 2013.
The album officially debuted at the top of the US Billboard 200 chart, with 138,000 copies sold in its first week, becoming Grande's first number-one album as a solo artist, making her the fifteenth female artist ever and the first female artist to have their first album debut atop of the charts since January 2010, when Kesha's album "Animal" opened at number one.
Grande's sales were especially strong digitally, as 108,000 of her first-week sales were from digital downloads, while the album sold 30,000 copies through physical sales. In its second week, the album dropped eight places to number nine selling 31,000 more copies, bringing its total sales in the United States to 169,000.
As of April 2018, the album has sold 596,000 copies in the United States and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on March 22, 2016 for shipments of 1 million copies.
The album also debuted in the top ten in several other countries, including Australia, where it debuted at number six, the United Kingdom, where it debuted at number seven, Ireland, where it debuted at number six and the Netherlands, where it debuted at number five.
It also debuted just outside the top ten on New Zealand's top forty chart at number eleven.
In 2013, "Yours Truly" was ranked as the 106th most popular album of the year on the Billboard 200. It then went on to become the 68th most popular album on that chart, the following year
At Metacritic, "Yours Truly" received an average of 81, based on 9 reviews (indicating “universal acclaim.")
Matt Collar at AllMusic rated the album four stars out of five, saying that the album was "surprisingly sophisticated and unique" which showcases Grande's soulful R&B vocals. He stated that the album often "brings to mind the intonations of Mariah Carey which are most likely intentional." Collar closed the statement saying that it "makes the most of her talent."
Nick Catucci of Entertainment Weekly graded the album an A-, calling the album "pure pop bliss" and "one of the most purely enjoyable albums of the year" that is powered by her "lithe, Broadway-honed voice."
Jon Caramanica of the New York Times gave a positive review of the album, writing that television shows such as "American Idol" & "Glee" "have been responsible for an intense surge of interest in music on television, but they haven't left much of a mark on the shape of pop. That's because both shows are fundamentally conservative institutions, privileging the familiar and the unchallenging. They're about emulating, not innovating."
Caramanica commended Grande for becoming the first "identifiable pop star" who takes the "rules of those enterprises, uses them as a foundation, and innovates atop them... She uses the "Glee"/"Idol" template as a jumping-off point to make modern pop-R&B with a sturdy vintage backbone."
Writing in his track-by-track review Jason Lipshutz from Billboard rated the album an eighty-six out of 100, saying that "Yours Truly carries the expectations of a young singer who has already proven herself on the pop charts, and even if the songs on her debut could not equal the quality of "The Way," Grande had the fan base and powerful pipes to survive a misfire."
At PopMatters, Scott Interrante rated the album eight discs out of ten, writing that "Minor missteps aside, Yours Truly is ultimately an impressive debut for Grande."
Ryan Dennehy of AbsolutePunk rated the album a 70-percent, stating that "Yours Truly is more tempered and less likely to put you in a beaming state of catatonia" that is "a missive containing some of her most personal thoughts and her oft-regrettable youthful impulses."
At Pitchfork, Andrew Ryce rated the album a 6.5 out of ten, calling it "a very safe record."
Lewis Conner of Digital Spy rated the album four stars out of five, writing how "The production feels fresh, the lyrics are relatable and the melodies are as cool and sweet as a dollop of raspberry ripple", and where he also states that "The tone and pace of the album rarely changes, but the songs feel accomplished, polished and vibrant". Corner concluded by calling "Yours Truly" a "little less than a triumph."
At The Michigan Daily, Gregory Hicks graded the album a "B", saying "most tracks are of quality composition, lyrically and melodically, but beat usage becomes excessive at times."
Jim Farber of The New York Daily News rated the album three stars out of five, stating that because the "armies of song doctors" that the release is "far more tuneful than Mariah's interchangeable hits."
To promote her debut single "The Way", Grande visited various radio stations, including: Y-100 Miami, 93.3 FM, Z100, KIIS-FM and 99–7 Now.
She performed "The Way" at several concerts produced for Top 40 radio stations, including KIIS-FM's Wango Tango concert on May 11, 2013 in Los Angeles, 101.3 KDWB's Star Party concert on May 17, 2013 in Minneapolis, Kiss 108's Kiss Concert 2013 event on May 18, 2013 in Boston, 103.3 AMP Radio's Birthday Bash concert on June 30 also in Boston, and Mix 93.3's Red White & Boom concert on July 5, 2013 in Kansas City.
Grande's first televised performance of the song was aired on May 29, 2013 on The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
On August 1, 2013, Grande revealed the official artwork for "Yours Truly" which features her kneeling on a bed of roses in front of a pink background.
Due to fan criticism, she quickly unveiled a new cover, which simply featured her standing beneath a spotlight in a black-and-white image.
On August 7, 2013, Grande revealed the official track listing via iTunes, and Republic Records made pre-orders for the album available.
A music video for "Almost Is Never Enough" a duet with The Wanted's Nathan Sykes premiered online on Vevo on August 19, 2013 to promote the film "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones."
The track is featured on the film's official soundtrack. The album version of the track is two minutes longer and has been slightly altered. It debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at #84.
"Popular Song" featuring Grande was released on December 21, 2012 as a single from Mika's third studio album, "The Origin of Love." The album version of the song features vocals from the original songwriter, Priscilla Renea, and contains expletives; however, the single version removes Renea and replaces her with Grande, removing the expletives.
Grande performed "The Way" and "Baby I" at the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards' Preshow on August 25, 2013.
The album was released nine days later and she also performed "The Way" with Mac Miller on the Today Show along with "Tattooed Heart" on September 3, 2013. She also performed the latter at the 2013 Style Awards on September 4, 2013.
She also made several other appearances throughout the week appearing on Live! with Kelly and Michael, The Today Show and Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, where she performing an acoustic version of "The Way".
|Yours Truly, Christmas Kisses|