Ariana Grande is stepping away from her Nickelodeon roots slightly with 'The Way,' her first single featuring rapper Mac Miller.

While it'd be easy to expect and deliver a sugary, bubblegum confection from a tween star, Grande instead embraces R&B. She evokes early '00s Mariah Carey more than her contemporaries Victoria Justice or Miranda Cosgrove. While Grande has the vocal chops to pull off just about any sound she puts her mind to, her Nickelodeon past may make certain veins seem insincere, and it's unclear if she can sell herself as an R&B star.

The song itself is neither good nor bad -- its problem is that it's also not memorable. It fades into the background, and occasionally the listener is drawn back in by Miller's rhymes (one of which includes "You're an adventure / Now let come and explore you"), but not enough for a sustaining listen.

'The Way' sounds more like it should go the way of an album track rather than a single with a video -- but it's a promising start for Grande. It's just not quite as grand(e) as it should be.


Listen to Ariana Grande, 'The Way' Feat. Mac Miller