She gave us two amazing albums in six months. An iconic music video. Endless visuals. And all while enduring arguably the hardest chapter of her life.
Ariana Grande has accomplished so much in the past year, and it should be acknowledged. Here is a look back at her record-breaking, whirlwind year.
Last April, Grande released “no tears left to cry,” the lead single of sweetener. The single was immediately praised for its positive message and upbeat tempo. It peaked at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100. Fun fact: This song will cure any bad mood.
Grande landed her first Vogue cover in July with British Vogue. The internet immediately freaked out not knowing which was more monumental, the fact that she scored a Vogue cover or that her hair was down. In the spread, Grande opened up about the horrific Manchester bombing, anxiety and her upcoming album, sweetener.
Grande released “God is a woman,” the second single of sweetener in July. The song was quickly met with worldwide praise because of its female-focused message. Grande tweeted that the song was about, “sexual female empowerment & how women are literally everything & the universe is inside of us.” GIAW peaked at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100. In August, Grande performed the single live at the MTV Music Awards; because of the choreography, visuals and flawless vocals, social media awarded it the “best performance of the night.”
Grande debuted her album, sweetener on Fallon Tonight with Jimmy Fallon as a mini-listening party.
“I’ve always just been like a shiny, singing, 5-6-7-8, sexy-dance… sexy thing. But now it’s like, ‘OK … issa bop — but issa message. Issa bop but also has chunks of my soul in it.”
Grande’s fourth studio album featured hit after hit while giving us a glimpse into her personal relationships. With songs like “goodnight n go” and “pete davidson” to “better off,” sweetener gave a variety of vibes. It exuded love, strength, heartbreak, womanhood and above all, positivity. sweetener debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. On Spotify, the album had the biggest opening day by a female artist with 15.1 million streams and the biggest opening week by a female artist with 109 million streams.
Grande released “thank u, next” minutes before Saturday Night Live with no prior announcement, catching the entire world off-guard, especially her ex-fiancé, Pete Davidson. In the surprise single, the songstress name dropped a few of her exes. However, instead of dissing them, Grande chose to thank her exes for the lessons she learned from them. “thank u, next” became an instant bop and earned Grande her first #1 Billboard Hot 100 song.
In the same month, she dropped the ICONIC music video for the single. Directed by Hannah Lux Davis, the music video pulled from Mean Girls, Bring It On and Legally Blonde, remaking classic scenes and looks from each movie. The video featured countless stars such as: Jennifer Coolidge, Jonathon Bennett, Kris Jenner, Troye Sivan, Elizabeth Gillies, and Stefanie Drummond (the girl who bought army pants and flip flops) to name a few. In its first 24 hours, “thank u, next” accumulated over 55 million views making it the biggest debut in YouTube’s history.
At the Billboard’s Women in Music Awards, Grande was presented the Woman of the Year Award. Her acceptance speech instantly captured fans’ hearts. She opened up about the struggles of her personal life and said after obtaining everything she could ever want, her family and friends made her the happiest.
“I find it interesting that this has been one of the best years of my career and the worst of my life. A lot of people would look at someone in my position right now as an artist that could be at her peak and think, ‘She’s really got her shit together, she’s really on it. She’s got it all.’ And I do, but as far as my personal life goes, I really have no idea what the fuck I’m doing.”
Released a mere six months after sweetener, thank u, next offers a completely different vibe. With songs like “imagine” and “ghostin,” Grande gets incredibly personal and allows us to see her process of grieving, healing and letting go. She also hints at independency with “NASA” and “7 rings.” The songstress’ fifth studio album debuted at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in addition to having the biggest opening day globally by a female artist on Apple Music. Along with the album, Grande surprised fans and dropped a music video for the twelfth track on the album, “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored.”
Although she chose not to attend, Grande won her first Grammy for sweetener winning Best Pop Vocal Album.
When she first saw it, she thought it was a fan edit. In late February, Grande became the first artist since The Beatles to occupy the first, second and third spots on the Billboard Hot 100; she became the first solo-artist in history to do so.
When you have achieved everything in the music world, it is time to explore other avenues. Grande collaborated with Starbucks to create her own drink, the Cloud Macchiato. The drink is made up of milk, an espresso shot and fluffy foam (hence the cloud), and you have the option to get it with caramel or cinnamon flavor.
Grande’s past year has been nothing short of monumental and an inspiration to watch. Now, we are ready to see her kill it on tour!
*If you just became an Ariana Stan after reading this, here’s the link to her tickets(you’re welcome)
Written by Nia Quinn