Ariana Grande is a prolific musician. Just in 2019, she’s released her fifth full length album, four music videos, and one joint single with collaborator and friend Victoria Monét. Those totals do not include her latest new song and music video, “Boyfriend,” a joint single with frequent collaborators Social House.
Sonically, “Boyfriend” is in the same lane as the pop/R&B sound that dominated her thank u, next LP (review here). A soft trap beat is the foundation of the song, while house influences accent the track and give it a more defined shape. The melody of the hook is slightly reminiscent of “thank u, next,” but Grande’s fluttery vocal performance recalls the puppy-eyed whimsy of 2000s R&B.
Mikey and Scootie of Social House offer solid vocal performances that complement Grande’s in both range and perspective. Their deeper voices provide a bit of gravity to the track and help broaden the song’s narrative. Lyrically, the song is another winner for Grande. She and her collaborators continue to perfect the art of writing relatable songs without coming off as forced or corny. “Boyfriend” is an ode to the beauty of relationships without labels but also the guilt, fear, shame, and need of a label to define things. It’s about being afraid to jump into a relationship but still wanting that person exclusively for yourself.
Ariana and Social House both scored entries on my Best Songs of 2019 (So Far) list, but their first proper vocal collaboration doesn’t quite live up to the heights of either of those songs. Nevertheless, this is a genuinely fun and breezy summer song. Grande sounds comfortable in this sound, but between thank u, next; “MONOPOLY“; and “Boyfriend,” one can’t help but wonder when she’ll change up her sound again.