Ariana Grande ft. Nicki Minaj – “Side to Side” (Singles Going Steady)

"Side to Side" is one of the most unabashedly infectious tracks Grande has put out, subbing her typically refined style of pop for something a bit less pristine, a bit sweatier.

Max Totsky: Ariana Grande’s Dangerous Woman is chock full of songs that really shouldn’t work on paper but somehow find a way to be entertaining/captivating in a slightly post-tasteful way. “Side to Side” is not one of the album’s stronger tracks, but it epitomizes its strongest quality. It makes a bizarre combination (Grande and Minaj singing about ridiculously rough sex over a dancehall-infused over a Max Martin instrumental) and turns it into convincing pop-radio fodder. It’s one of the most unabashedly infectious tracks Grande has put out, subbing her typically refined style of pop for something a bit less pristine, a bit sweatier. Grande might actually “run pop”, but ‘Side to Side’ works on very different terms than her best tracks, the most clear-cut choice from a single from an album with many. [7/10]

Adriane Pontecorvo: This midtempo summer jam feels like it should have been released as a single in the heat of July instead of on the brink of September. Regardless of release timing, the mellow beats ably showcase Grande’s limber voice, and Minaj’s sultry performance adds a velvety layer to a song that revels in its own steamy sexuality. For all the virtues of its vocal stars, though, “Side to Side” never really climaxes; the drums build every once in a while, but then fizzle right back into their initial flow for yet another chorus. It’s too slow for good dancing and too chill for the upcoming cooler seasons. And why can’t those SoulCycling dancers lean in sync? [6/10]

Andrew Paschal: Ariana Grande’s pristine, too-spotless vocals glide easily over a vaguely reggae backdrop, delivering a skillful if not particularly memorable performance. I was hoping that Nicki Minaj would add some necessary zing with her verse, but she seems to have mostly phoned it in this time. It is nice to hear her both sing and rap in a guest spot, I suppose. Overall, “Side to Side” is a listenable but anemic pop song. [4/10]

Scott Zuppardo: You will hear of no complaint from me on the visual landscape of said video. I’ve always wondered what a more scantily clad spinning class would be like, and then said locker room scene post workout. The men filled steam room scene loses its luster when Nicki Minaj makes her confusing entrance. The song is impossibly un-creative and ripely just what we don’t need in the music world. A weak take on a reggae riff with even weaker crooning and quasi rapping from Minaj. Save your clicks unless you love female posteriors. [2/10]

Christopher Laird: The song is a dud to be honest. It’s basically a run through of all the pop music signifiers of the last five to ten years. Ariana’s voice does shine through on some spots, creating moments of pleasure throughout. The video seems to be an excuse to show off mostly naked bodies and sell more GUESS clothing, or more specifically GUESS underwear. Don’t go searching it out if you’re not already an Ariana Grande fan. [5/10]

Michael Pementel: There isn’t much of a story here: another radio bumper by Grande that does everything that all music in its class is doing today (and did yesterday). The only good things going for this is a fun bass and that Nicki Minaj provides some dope lines. [3/10]

Chris Ingalls: This is another one of those songs where I have to confess to knowing nothing about the artist(s), although the names are familiar. It’s harmless, airy generic pop, with a pleasant faux-reggae beat, a ton of synthetic production and the requisite guest rap. After hearing this song, I feel like I just accidentally walked into a shopping mall stuffed with teenagers. Sorry. Not my thing. [3/10]

Landon MacDonald: The feel would fit in perfectly on pop radio but ultimately makes you wish you were listening to “Bang Bang”, Ariana and Nicki’s last track together where Nicki’s verse is much more empowering and exciting, and not at all because its in double time. “Side to Side” though does have a solid, A-level hook on the chorus, and for top 40, that’s more than enough. [5/10]

SCORE: 4.38


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