Ariana Grande is a dangerous talent
It’s good to be Ariana Grande. The petite singer with the powerhouse pipes was already a pop phenomenon at the start of 2016 but ended the year, in Time magazine’s estimation, as one of the 100 most interesting people in the world. Grande’s third album, Dangerous Woman, which reached No. 2 on Billboard’s Top 200 in June, has yielded five singles so far, and she ended the year with “Side to Side” topping the Pop Songs chart where it remained weeks beyond the start of the New Year. In December, she starred alongside Harvey Fierstein and Jennifer Hudson in the production of Hairspray Live! and won Artist of the Year honors at the 2016 American Music Awards.
Grande, 23, has attained icon status only eight years since she made the jump from Broadway to television, where she played scarlet-haired singer Cat Valentine on Nickelodeon’s Victorious, and less than four years since she released her debut album Yours Truly, which went to No. 1 in its first week of release. Since then she’s been shedding early comparisons to Mariah Carey and coming into her own as a recording artist as well as budding fashion icon. If you see hair styled into a high ponytail, the inspiration was likely Grande.
Still, in terms of career trajectory, the Carey comparison holds. Like the ’90s diva, Grande cultivated a coquettish image that quickly matured as she rocketed to stardom in the recording industry. Telling Complex magazine in 2013 that she didn’t see herself “ever becoming a sex symbol,” Grande’s been increasingly exploring her sultry side as evidenced by the steamy video for Mac Miller’s “My Favorite Part.” It was the second collaboration between the two after 2013’s “The Way” but friendship blossomed into romance by the time she added vocals to Miller’s ode to neighborly love.
Still, Grande seems to be heading in a more sophisticated direction than Carey as she shakes off her initial image, and she seems smart and stable enough to avoid the pitfalls of fame. She launched a 58-date tour that takes her across the U.S. through April, then on to Europe, where she’ll play her last currently scheduled stop in her ancestral home country, Italy. She announced through Twitter on Jan. 3 that her next single from Dangerous Woman will be “Everyday” featuring rapper Future. And she has become known as a remarkable mimic, demonstrating her knack for nailing impressions of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Celine Dion and Jennifer Lawrence on Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.
While Grande has expressed that she prefers singing and live performing to acting nowadays, she’s increasingly become active in the soundtrack department. A duet with John Legend on the theme song to Disney’s upcoming live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast is planned, and she paired with Stevie Wonder for “Faith” from animated musical-comedy Sing. She’s also one of the most powerful figures in social media, with the fourth most popular account on Instagram and 30 million Likes for her Facebook page. That status led to an offer to become a character in the RPG video game Final Fantasy Brave Exvius, which she announced Jan. 5 via Instagram. From pop music to pixels, Grande’s got success covered.
MGM Grand, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 4, starting at $39.50 plus tax and fee. 800.745.3000 Ticketmaster