Ariana Grande doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to remixes. From the forgettable “7 rings” remix with 2 Chainz to her equally boring remix of Justin Bieber’s “What Do You Mean,” whether it’s her song or not, remixes aren’t the pop titan’s strongest area. For her first offering of 2021, Ariana has teamed up with fellow 2020 chart-toppers and 2021 Grammy nominees Doja Cat and Megan Thee Stallion for a remix of “34+35,” the latest single from her Positions album.
Last year, Doja and Megan both earned their first #1 hits with the help of remixes; Doja tapped in Nicki Minaj for a “Say So” remix and Megan called up Beyoncé for the now three-time Grammy-nominated “Savage” remix. The “Savage” remix was lauded for its commitment to the history of the remix. It was an entirely different song with spruced up production, four new Beyoncé verses, new ad-libs, and more. It’s a shame that Ariana couldn’t take any pointers from that remix for this new version of “34+35.” Oddly enough, every individual part of the song works, yet the end result is considerably less thrilling. Ariana’s first verse is still as charismatic and flirtatious as ever with the hook remaining catchy as hell. Doja, who was originally supposed to be featured on this song instead of “motive,” steals the show with a flawless verse that features seamless flow switches and a “did she just say that?” moment with her Tekashi 6ix9ine name drop. The issue with her verse stems from the production more than anything. Her verse sounds like it was ripped from the demo and just dropped onto the official track. The mix starts to sound a bit tinny during her verse and her echoed ad-libs at the end of every other line have the opposite effect than intended. There are some new strings and background vocal arrangements that were added which scores the remix some points, but they can’t hide the shortcomings of the mix. As for Megan, this is one of her stronger guest verses as of late and it’s nice to hear her over a more pop-oriented beat. Her punchlines are solid, and she commands your attention for the entirety of her verse.
The “34+35” remix isn’t terrible, it’s just underwhelming. The song feels lazily put together which is particularly aggravating because each of these three ladies is a great artist in their own right. Keeping Ariana’s third verse from the original (which she literally rap-sings) and adding some more color to the relatively sparse production would have been smart choices. For the purposes of Billboard, the remix couldn’t deviate too much from the sound of the original song, but that doesn’t mean that the union of three marquee artists had to sound like any average rent-a-rapper remix.