Ariana Grande keeps growing professionally
If any single act speaks to Ariana Grande’s current status as pop music’s most accomplished, powerful female vocalist, look no further than the diva’s special guests during her headlining set at Coachella. Grande brought four-fifths of NSYNC onstage on the final night of the festival’s first weekend, and filled in for Justin Timberlake when the group broke into their late-’90s hit “Tearin’ Up My Heart.”
It was a dream come true for Grande, a child of the boy-band era who grew up to become a mega-streamed mega-star, with two back-to-back No. 1 albums in her recent history. Her latest, Thank U, Next, was released in November, with the title cut rocketing to the top position on the charts and giving Grande her first No. 1 single. The song became the most-watched video on YouTube, fastest Vevo video to gain 100 million views and the fastest song to be streamed 100 million times on Spotify. “Thank U, Next” also broke the record for most streams in 24 hours, a mark that would be surpassed by “7 Rings,” the second single from Next.
That song, with a verse hook that pays homage to “My Favorite Things,” would also hit No. 1, capping off a dizzying and sometimes tragic trek for Grande since the last time she performed a concert in Las Vegas in February 2017. Three months after bringing her Dangerous Woman Tour to MGM Grand Garden Arena, a suicide bomber killed 22 people and injured hundreds more following a May 22 concert at Manchester Arena. Two weeks later, Grande organized the One Love Manchester concert in Greater Manchester, which featured a slew of stars from Miley Cyrus to Stevie Wonder. Grande, a devout Judy Garland admirer, closed the show by singing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
Grande’s next album, Sweetener, went straight to No. 1 upon release last August with a more mature sound than her previous albums. “This feels like the most me an album has ever felt,” she said in her Dangerous Woman Diaries documentary series posted to YouTube in November. “A lot of people were like, ‘Oh, how does it feel stepping out of your comfort zone?’ I’m like, ‘Nah, I don’t feel like I’m stepping out of my comfort zone. I feel like I found it.’”
That comfort zone was expanded on Next, which came in the wake of the overdose death of her ex-boyfriend Mac Miller and a whirlwind romance with Saturday Night Live’s Pete Davidson that nearly resulted in marriage. Grande sounded more confident and assertive than ever before, with the album’s third single, “Monopoly,” a duet with collaborator Victoria Monét, leading fans and media to speculate on her sexuality due to its “I like women and men” lyric.
Her personal life is not what led to her being the top headliner for both Coachella weekends, though, as well as for this summer’s Lollapalooza concert in August. It’s her amazing voice that makes her tall in talent.
T-Mobile Arena, 8 p.m. May 11, starting at $34.95 plus tax and fee. 888.929.7849 AXS