Ariana Grande’s Billboard Woman of the Year cover story

On December 5th, Ariana’s cover story for Billboard’s Woman In Music has been posted!


Ariana Grande is milly rocking in her seat behind the massive mixing console at Los Angeles’ Record Plant studio, a wide grin revealing the single dimple in her left cheek. Her new single, “Thank U, Next,” will not officially become her first Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 for another three days, but its explosive success is already making headlines. For Grande, the milestone is especially meaningful. It’s the exact kind of music she has wanted to make all along.

“It’s a Tommy Brown single!” she exclaims, hitting the arm of her chair for emphasis. Brown, a producer and songwriter, has been working with Grande since her 2013 debut, Yours Truly, and Grande is positively giddy at the prospect of their shared musical breakthrough. “I can’t believe it but, like, so can. It’s me and my besties tipsy off champagne — and me with a broken heart — just letting it out and having fun. I love this more than any other song I’ve ever put out.”

That kind of joy has been tough to come by in the past few months for Billboard’s Woman Of The Year, despite the fact that she has never had more career momentum. Grande’s fourth album, Sweetener, became her third No. 1 on the Billboard 200 in August, breaking streaming records while earning critical acclaim. So far it has produced two top 10 singles on the Hot 100, with a third, “Breathin,” now at No. 13. But while she was in the middle of promoting the project, her dear friend, collaborator and ex-boyfriend Mac Miller died from an accidental overdose. Just over a month later, her whirlwind engagement to comedian Pete Davidson ended.

On this November afternoon, it’s still too soon for Grande to talk about what has happened in anything other than broad strokes. “I’m really lucky and really unlucky at the same time,” says the 25-year-old.

To sing about it, though, is another story. Not long after Miller’s death, Grande started spending all of her time with her closest friends and collaborators, including Brown, recording a new album (which she says will also be called Thank U, Next) at a studio across the street from her New York apartment. Though she has been in therapy since she was just a kid coping with her parents’ divorce — and is quick to espouse its benefits — right now the most healing comes when she’s standing behind a mic.

“When I felt myself saying, ‘’Cause her name is Ari,’ I knew it was a special line, but part of me was like, ‘Oh, my God, that’s kind of corny,’” says Grande, referring to the “Thank U, Next” lyric, a declaration of self-love. She tucks her bare legs inside a light-blue hoodie that reads “Beau Souci” (French for “beautiful worry”) and wraps her arms around them. “But the other part of me was like, ‘That’s beautiful and I need to keep it in.’ I know that once I put something into a song, then it’s real.”

Fittingly, the control room is decked out like a refuge: a small bouquet of white flowers, a single candle, a light projecting water ripples onto the ceiling. Grande, sporting an extension-less version of her signature ponytail, sips from a Starbucks iced soy latte while animatedly chatting about the music she has been working on — the only thing she’s really interested in discussing, the only thing that matters to her right now. As it turns out, a series of tragedies has given the star two unexpected gifts: the freedom to channel her hurt into the most raw and untempered music of her career, and the audacity to buck the pop music establishment — which, as Grande will note more quickly than anyone, is particularly entrenched when it comes to women.

She had the talent: the four-octave range and effortless vocal agility that led Gloria Estefan, after hearing the 8-year-old Grande sing “My Heart Will Go On” at a cruise-ship karaoke night, to tell her she was gifted. She had the support system: her close-knit family, familiar to anyone who follows the singer on social media. And she had the work ethic, performing in public regularly before the age of 10 and on Broadway by age 15. “When I was 6 years old, I just kind of decided that’s what I’m going to do with my life, period,” says Grande, who grew up in Boca Raton, Fla. “I manifested it. I knew I would. There was never really a doubt in my mind.”

The singer proceeded to do all she could to reach superstardom, and logged time in the teeny-bopper trenches at Nickelodeon. In 2011, she signed with Republic Records; not long after, she met Mac Miller. He was 20 and she was 19, so naturally they first talked on Twitter. The pair became fast friends, and she invited him to do a verse on her first album’s lead single, 2013’s bouncy ’90s throwback “The Way.” Grande told Billboard at the time that Miller was giving her Pro Tools pointers as they recorded. She added, “If you want to motivate Mac Miller to do anything, just bake cookies.”

Now, she looks back on the song as the first time she really captured her own musical style, what she had been searching for while growing up idolizing India.Arie. “When we made ‘The Way,’ I was like, ‘Oh, wow, I’m onto something here,’” says Grande. Her face dims slightly; just before this interview, she was working on a new song, which, when she plays it for me later, I realize is about Miller. “It felt like, ‘I should do this forever.’”

“The Way” reached No. 9 on the Hot 100, and like the rest of her debut, it holds up remarkably well. Babyface, one of the album’s producers, helped legitimize Grande’s long-held R&B aspirations. Nevertheless, when she released Yours Truly, Grande was still viewed as a preteen idol, thanks to her history on kiddie TV and diminutive size (she’s exactly 5 feet tall). So on her next two albums, she went even bigger, employing Max Martin and pursuing the kinds of pop hits that would make her undeniable to any listener.

“We started at home base — me,” Grande says of Yours Truly, “and then we went in this place where I kind of played the game for a little bit, and did the big, big, big pop records. Then we slowly started incorporating my soul back into it — and that’s where we’ve landed again with ‘Thank U, Next.’”

Grande has put in the work, done everything that was asked of her — all the tiny compromises that went along with playing the game — and kept her nose clean (with the exception of a little doughnut glaze, which she erased from the public’s memory with a cleverly self-deprecating sketch on one of the best Saturday Night Live hosting debuts in recent memory). She has hit songs and high Pitchfork ratings, to say nothing of her devoted fans, the Arianators. Grande’s late-night TV appearances — routine promotional stops for most stars — are events, thanks to her natural sense of comic timing and gift for impressions both sung and spoken (Google her doing Jennifer Coolidge). She followed all the rules, and arrived at what seemed like the top.

The singer has no regrets. “I got myself to a place where I would be able to do things like drop a surprise record and have it be the biggest single I’ve ever had,” she says now. But five years into her career, she hadn’t yet had a No. 1 Hot 100 song, and hadn’t found the ubiquity that she knew deep down she deserved.

Then, on May 22, 2017, a suicide bomber killed 23 people and injured 139 outside the arena in Manchester, England, where Grande had just finished performing as part of her Dangerous Woman Tour. Many of the victims were children.

Within weeks Grande was back, not just onstage but in Manchester, visiting survivors in the hospital and hosting the One Love Manchester benefit, which helped raise 23 million pounds (about $29 million) for the victims. She released her live rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” from the benefit, during which she broke down in tears — though she still finished the performance — and donated the proceeds to the Red Cross. “Our response to this violence must be to come closer together, to help each other, to love more, to sing louder and to live more kindly and generously than we did before,” she wrote at the time.

She did exactly that with the album that followed, this summer’s Sweetener, an optimistic paean to her own healing; there was no dwelling on tragedy, only gentleness and positivity. The first single was titled “No Tears Left to Cry,” and the album concluded with the tender “Get Well Soon,” a five-minute, 22-second tribute to the Manchester victims. Meanwhile, she had found new contentment outside the studio with SNL star Davidson, in a relationship that she happily flaunted despite the tabloid frenzy that enveloped them both.

In a tweet a month ago, Grande summed up her feelings on what has happened since: “Remember when i was like hey i have no tears left to cry and the universe was like HAAAAAAAAA bitch u thought.”

This afternoon, Grande is often near tears, a fact she readily acknowledges. “I just hope you’re OK with me crying, because that’s not going to not happen,” she says, laughing even as she’s tearing up in the midst of talking about how she has coped with so much tragedy in such a short span of time. “I can’t even say ‘Good morning’ to anyone without crying.” The blessing, for both the singer and her fans, is the music. “I guess there’s not much I’m afraid of anymore,” she says, her normally silky voice tightening. “When life tries you with such serious shit so many times, your priorities change. I don’t give a shit. I just want to be happy and healthy — one day — and make music.”

Where she’s currently sitting — behind the mixing console — is just about the only place Grande feels like she has control. And she is, in her own words, a control freak. Though she won’t say that she has perfect pitch (“People tell me I do, but I’m not going to sit here and be like, ‘Yes, I do’”), when talking about her music, Grande betrays a craftsman’s obsession with arrangements and vocal harmonies. “I’ll hear something that’s on one track out of, like, a thousand in a session and be emailing the engineer about it,” she says. Martin and Pharrell Williams both let her “steer,” which is one of the reasons she has worked with them repeatedly. But not every man she has shared a studio with has been as willing to cede the reins.

“I’ve politely walked out of sessions before,” says Grande. “It has happened. I’m a small girl. People tend to underestimate that. And then I sit down and comp my own vocals and can produce my own session, and they’re like” — here she adopts an excellent impersonation of a dopey man — “‘Oh, I didn’t know you could do that.’ I’m like, ‘Believe it or not, there are plenty of tiny women that can do this.’” This is the Grande who digs for deep cuts, covering songs by eclectic bassist Thundercat and exchanging Instagram DMs with legendary jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval (the pair did a track together alongside Williams).

This is also the Grande who has been vocal about fighting sexism. Her recent single “God Is a Woman” might be the most obvious example, but even in 2015, in a Notes app manifesto that quoted Gloria Steinem, she was critiquing the media’s habit of defining famous women by their relationship status.

“I would just love to see a chart with as many women on top as men,” she says. “It’s just so male-dominated. It’s so easy for them. There are so many unbelievable female artists out there that try so much harder.”

Despite the industry barriers Grande is breaking down — she’s the only artist ever to have the lead single from each of her first four albums debut in the top 10 of the Hot 100, and the first woman in three years to have a single debut at No. 1 on the Hot 100 — she sometimes feels like she’s still pushing against an audience that wants her to fit into specific stereotypes. “They’re unable to accept the fact that women are a million things, and not just two,” she says. “You can be adorable and brilliant. You can be friendly and silly, and yet strong and indestructible. You can be professional and present and also sexual and fun.

“My dream has always been to be — obviously not a rapper, but, like, to put out music in the way that a rapper does. I feel like there are certain standards that pop women are held to that men aren’t. We have to do the teaser before the single, then do the single, and wait to do the preorder, and radio has to impact before the video, and we have to do the discount on this day, and all this shit. It’s just like, ‘Bruh, I just want to fucking talk to my fans and sing and write music and drop it the way these boys do. Why do they get to make records like that and I don’t?’ So I do and I did and I am, and I will continue to.” Grande pauses briefly, growing serious.

“And if it doesn’t work out the way ‘Thank U, Next’ did, that’s fine too! It is so exciting to see something be received well. That’s a beautiful thing. But it’s even more beautiful to be honest and just do something.” She sniffs, her eyes dampening. “To drop a record on a Saturday night because you feel like it, and because your heart’s going to explode if you don’t — to take back your narrative.”

Grande starts to cry in earnest, carefully wiping away tears so as not to smudge her winged eyeliner. “I don’t want to do what people tell me to do, I don’t want to conform to the pop star agenda. I want to do it on my own terms from now on. If I want to tour two albums at once, I’m going to tour two albums at once. If I want to drop a third album while I’m on tour [in 2019], I’ll do that too! Please. [“Thank U, Next” production duo] Social House is my opening act — you don’t think we’re going to have a studio on the bus? That we’re not going to be making records on the road? Of course we are. I want to be able to do what is authentic and honest and natural. It’s the only way that I’ve been able to survive.” She puts her face in her hands, resting her fingertips — adorned with perfectly manicured white oval nails — on her forehead.

Talking explicitly about the men in Grande’s life is a non-starter. She still loves all her songs, even “Pete Davidson.” (She also sent the Davidson in question “Thank U, Next” before releasing it: “I wasn’t going to blindside anybody,” she says.) The wound left by Miller’s death is, unsurprisingly, still raw. She expects Thanksgiving will be particularly hard, since she had spent the past few holidays in Pittsburgh with Miller’s family. At this point, these are the kinds of details that Grande already knows will be A1 on every gossip site. Her rise to fame has been punctuated by a series of public romances, which she writes off as a side effect of her workaholism. “This is how I meet people — I can’t just, like, meet someone at a bar,” she says. “I live fast and full-out, and I make mistakes, and I learn from them and I’m grateful no matter what happens.”

Grande has no plans to take a break, despite the fact that she has been working more or less constantly since the beginning of her career. When we meet, in early November, she’s in the midst of finishing Thank U, Next; prepping the video for the single; and preparing for her Sweetener World Tour, which starts in March 2019. “I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of the artist I can be, and I just want to keep growing and practicing and getting better,” she says. “I never want to get lazy.”

The new album is Grande’s therapy and her catharsis. She invites her friends and collaborators — Brown, Social House, Victoria Monét, Tayla Parx and Doug Middlebrook — back into the control room to listen to it. Brown pops a bottle of pink Veuve Clicquot. “I don’t think I’ve ever consumed more alcohol than I have in the past month,” jokes Grande, cheered by their presence. “I am champagne. You know how people say we’re 60 percent water? I’m 60 percent pink Veuve Clicquot.”

Thank U, Next was mostly written in a week, with the people she’s toasting in the control room, and recorded in two weeks. Now comes the polishing phase and the addition of some tracks with Martin and his team. It was the product of a lot of “feminine energy and champagne and music and laughter and crying. This [album’s] not particularly uplifting,” she says. “A lot of it sounds really upbeat, but it’s actually a super sad chapter.”

The music is defiant — deep, bass-driven bangers with trap beats alternating with airy, sad ballads — and aesthetically more adventurous than anything she has ever released. Some of the lyrics are so unambiguously personal and gutting that even if the singer were up for talking about them, most questions would be redundant. But one of the more upbeat tunes, “7 Rings,” has a backstory Grande is happy to discuss.

“It was a… challenging fall day in New York,” she begins, cracking up. “Me and my friends went to Tiffany’s together, just because we needed some retail therapy. You know how when you’re waiting at Tiffany’s they give you lots of champagne? They got us very tipsy, so we bought seven engagement rings, and when I got back to the studio I gave everybody a friendship ring.” She flashes a diamond ring on her right hand; Monét and Parx are wearing them as well. “That’s why we have these, and that’s where the song idea came from.”

She goes to her phone and presses “play,” and a party-ready twist on “My Favorite Things” booms out of the speakers. Grande whispers some asides to her friends, who are bopping along to the song. Then she starts to dance around the room in her bare feet, alone and smiling.
WOMEN MAKE IT WORK
Behind the scenes of Grande’s success.

Donna Gryn
Senior vp marketing, Republic Records

My role: I’ve worked with Ariana since we launched “The Way” in 2013, overseeing marketing campaigns and working closely with her, management and Republic on every aspect of music strategy and rollout.

On Ariana: You might not know how involved she really is with everything we do. She really leads the charge in a way most artists don’t, and it’s one of the reasons she is so successful. Also worth mentioning: She often has us laughing out loud.

Rachel Bisdee
Senior director of international marketing, Republic Records

My role: The international team works with Scooter Braun Projects and Universal Music labels globally to create marketing campaigns and promotional strategy outside the United States, including Ariana’s TV, radio and awards show performances.

On Ariana: During an off-day in Australia, she rented a sightseeing bus for us. She took the mic and became our Broadway-musical-style tour guide and delivered sidesplitting commentary.

Jennifer McDaniels
GM, SB Projects

My role: I oversee all music ventures.

On Ariana: She did a series of Sweetener shows [in July], during which I got to see her interact with her fans on an intimate level. She remembered faces and names of fans that had been to other events, took requests and truly made them all feel special.

Jules Ferree
Head of brand partnerships, SB Projects

My role: With the support of the Scooter Braun Projects team, I work to cultivate, secure and manage Ariana’s various brand partnerships.

On Ariana: The second night of The Sweetener Sessions with AMEX in Chicago, she had finished performing the hourlong planned setlist, but continued the show a cappella for another 45 minutes, just to keep the love in the room flowing with her fans.

Source: billboard.com

Ariana Grande covers the August issue of Elle magazine + plays Song Association

On July 10th, it was announced that Ariana Grande would be the cover star of the August issue of Elle magazine! A video of her playing the game of Song Association was uploaded to their YouTube channel on July 12th.

 

Check out the whole interview below!


Ariana Grande is a star. A really big star. For millions of Arianators, as her fans are known, she’s a radiant, life-giving force they wake up with in the morning and go to bed with at night. They’ve followed the phases of her career as she’s risen from Broadway (the musical 13) to TV (Nickelodeon’s Victorious and Sam & Cat) to the apex of pop stardom and commercial success (eight multiplatinum singles, 9 billion music video streams on YouTube). They’ve contributed to the $100 million-plus that her tours have made, casting the likes of Drake and Sting in Ariana’s petite but long, five-foot shadow. They are among Ariana’s 121 million Instagram followers, making her the third-most-followed person, above both Kim Kardashian and Beyoncé. And when her latest album, Sweetener, drops August 17, Arianators will have helped its lead single, “No Tears Left to Cry,” break records set by none other than Ariana herself.

Calling to them is Ariana’s honeyed, four-octave voice. But they’re also drawn to her sparkle: The poofy lampshade and figure skater–style dresses. The cat, bunny, and Minnie Mouse ears she wears often and without ceremony. On Twitter, she speaks to her fans in fluent internet, playing fast and loose with a “see no evil” monkey emoji and crafting full sentences in acronyms only. In a few short weeks, she went from casually dating Saturday Night Live’s Pete Davidson to engaged, their relationship born, in part, out of Harry Potter fandom (him: Gryffindor, her: Slytherin). On Instagram, they flirt guilelessly, as if no one were watching (everyone is watching). And then, of course, there’s her signature Vegas-fountain ponytail, the orientation, height, and shade of which Arianators track like an ancient civilization charting the moon. To the casual observer, the singer’s idiosyncrasies might seem juvenile, absurd even, but there’s a subversiveness to Ariana’s child’s play. Her bright and shiny optics belie a far more nuanced character. She’s been in therapy for more than 10 years, since around the time her parents divorced, and thus traffics in self-awareness. “It’s work,” she tells me, sitting on the couch in her hotel suite overlooking Central Park. “I’m a 25-year-old woman. But I’ve also spent the past handful of years growing up under very extraordinary circumstances. And I know how that story goes.…” Cut to former child star in a mug shot. And scene.

She’s been watching a lot of Planet Earth lately. “Have you seen those fish with the transparent heads? Those are aliens! That’s where they are! They’re here.” She takes me on a “really big trip” marveling at outer space. But within her intergalactic musings is the search for perspective: “The planets, the stars, there’s nothing more humbling than that shit. We get so stressed about little things when, in the big picture, we’re just a speck of dust on this tiny planet in this enormous solar system that is also a speck in a huge, mysterious black hole situation, and we don’t even know what it is!” She takes a breath. “Thinking about how small we are, it’s crazy. We are nothing.”

Not that Ariana is a nihilist. She speaks of the strength of community in this “tough, wild, chaotic time right now” and considers just how divided the nation is. Her call to action: “Everyone has to have uncomfortable conversations with their relatives. Instead of unfriending people on Facebook who share different political views, comment! Have a conversation! Try to spread the fucking light.” She’s become something of a feminist hero for her ability to shut down sexism and misogyny with a single tweet. The most recent of which, at press time, regards her ex, rapper Mac Miller, who allegedly drove drunk and crashed his car shortly after their breakup. A Twitter user suggested it was Ariana’s fault. “How absurd that you minimize female self-respect and self-worth by saying someone should stay in a toxic relationship,” she wrote. “Shaming/blaming women for a man’s inability to keep his shit together is a very major problem…please stop doing that.” The user apologized. She accepted.

I meet Ariana on a sunny May afternoon. Her hair is styled in what I’ll call a three-way—two platinum-blond ponytails pulled high atop either side of her head, a third section of extensions cascading down her back. I ask if she is, in fact, communicating to her fans through her hair. “I’ve never thought about it that way,” she says, giving one pigtail a twirl. “But maybe there is a telepathic connection there.” For what it’s worth, her favorite pony is “the high, sleek, dark one. But she takes many forms. Many forms. There are lots of different girls in this sisterhood.” Including totally ponyless wigs, like the one she wore for her ELLE shoot. (Slow claps to her hairstylist, Josh Liu, for swishing and tossing strands by the handful, just out of frame, for hours.)

Last night, Ariana attended her first Met Gala in a Vera Wang gown that sent fans into a tizzy. The “puff puff dream,” as she calls it, featured the entirety of Michelangelo’s The Last Judgement, from the Sistine Chapel, and was “a foreshadow, a hint,” of her upcoming video for “God Is a Woman.” The second single is her 92-year-old grandma Nonna’s favorite song from the new album. By name alone, I peg the track to be a feel-good Women’s-March–y anthem, something along the lines of Katy Perry’s “Roar” set to an R&B beat. I hear it a few weeks later. Hoo boy, was I wrong. Let’s just say it’s more about taking agency in the bedroom than at the office. Nonna, you’re so naughty!

A sly, mischievous streak runs through Ariana’s maternal bloodline. “It’s the Italian thing; we have the dark humor,” she says. Nonna enjoys Cards Against Humanity (sample card: “Chunks of dead prostitute”). And for Ariana’s fourth birthday, her mother, Joan, threw her daughter a Jaws-themed party. “Most of the kids were running, screaming, because I had Jaws playing on a huge screen,” Joan recalls. “The parents were like, ‘Are you crazy? Our kids don’t watch that!’ But it was [Ariana’s] favorite movie.” Joan is a soft-spoken firebrand. The Brooklyn-born, Barnard-educated 61-year-old was “goth before goth was goth,” she says, and name-checks Poe and Hawthorne as favored college companions. At home in Boca Raton, Florida, she made the macabre fun for Ariana and her older half brother, Frankie. Halloween was as big of a deal as Christmas. “I did the house up in things that would give normal children nightmares,” she says. “I would go to the butcher, get heart organs or lungs, and then be like, ‘Ariana, Frankie, this is a heart.’ The kids would paint blood on the walls. I remember Ariana’s little handprints.”

The family went to Disney World pretty regularly, where Ariana was drawn to baddies like Cruella de Vil and Maleficent. “If we had a choice of going to the Disney princess store or the villain store, it was always the villains,” Joan says. It’s worth noting that the biggest fights between mother and daughter “had to do with boys.”

At eight months pregnant with Ariana, Joan moved from New Jersey to Florida to open a marine communications equipment manufacturing company, which she still owns and operates. On the phone from her office, she explains that she and her older sister, Judy, always questioned the status quo. Ariana calls them “through-and-through feminist queens.” Judy was friendly with Gloria Steinem and was the first female Italian American president of the National Press Club. When Joan built her company, she did so with working mothers in mind: “I built this building with a day-care area. I actually had it certified. Employees brought their children, and Ariana was here almost every day.” I ask if she’s ever been tempted to quit her job, in light of her daughter’s astronomic success. Stupid question. “We’re very close,” she says of their relationship. “But I don’t live my life through her life. I have an amazing career. I work because it fulfills me as a person. Because I’m Joan, not Ariana, not Frankie. I would never want to lose Joan somewhere along the way.”

There’s a bouquet of white roses on the coffee table in Ariana’s hotel. The note: “To my darling Ariana: You are the true work of art! Love you dearly, Mommy.” It’s been almost a year since they fled a UK terrorist attack that claimed 22 lives, injuring 500 more, at the sold-out Manchester show of Ariana’s Dangerous Woman tour. Ariana is hesitant to talk about it. For one thing, the wound is still incredibly raw, but she’s also adamant that her story not overshadow those of the victims. So we talk around it. “When I got home from tour, I had really wild dizzy spells, this feeling like I couldn’t breathe,” she begins. “I would be in a good mood, fine and happy, and they would hit me out of nowhere. I’ve always had anxiety, but it had never been physical before. There were a couple of months straight where I felt so upside down.” She shared the experience with her friend Pharrell Williams. Together they created “Get Well Soon,” the final track on Sweetener.

“It’s all the voices in my head talking to one another,” she explains, before softly serenading me. “‘They say my system is overloaded,’” she sings, “and then the background vocals say, ‘Girl, what’s wrong with you? Come back down.’” The studio version is a veritable mille-feuille of vocal arrangement, stacking layers upon layers of Ariana’s voice until she lands, wholly, right-side-up.

Joan was in the audience the night tragedy struck and recounts the chaos. “I was like a fish swimming in the wrong direction. Everyone was leaving, and I was going toward the stage. The bomb went off, and I’m looking at these young adults with fear in their eyes. People were jumping from the upper seats to get out. I just started grabbing people. I could have been steering them.…” Her voice trails of, the what-ifs too painful to imagine. “I didn’t know where I was going. I just knew I was going to my daughter. Not to be overly dramatic—I struggle with this every day—but I didn’t know what I would find when I got to her. I sympathize with every parent who was waiting for a child. Those minutes when you don’t know what’s happening…there are no words.”

They immediately caught a flight back to Boca, where the future felt incredibly uncertain. Ariana cried endlessly and barely spoke for two days. It was unclear if she would ever want to perform again. Then Joan got a knock on her door. “It was two or three in the morning; she crawled into bed and said, ‘Mom, let’s be honest, I’m never not going to sing again. But I’m not going to sing again until I sing in Manchester first.’” They called her manager, Scooter Braun, and the One Love Manchester concert was born, helping raise $23 million for the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund. Of how the event has changed Ariana, Joan says, “She loves a bit more fearlessly than she did before.” I gently broach the subject with Ariana, and the name Manchester alone triggers a huge teardrop to roll down her cheek. “You hear about these things,” she starts slowly. “You see it on the news, you tweet the hashtag. It’s happened before, and it’ll happen again. It makes you sad, you think about it for a little, and then people move on. But experiencing something like that firsthand, you think of everything differently.…” She pauses, swallowing the lump in her throat. “Everything is different.” Getting back onstage was “terrifying.” It still is sometimes. She credits her fans as being her primary source of courage. “It’s the most inspiring thing in the world that these kids pack the venue.

They’re smiling, holding signs saying, ‘Hate will never win.’” The tears are full-on now. “Why would I second-guess getting on a fucking stage and being there for them? That city, and their response? That changed my life.” She’d go on to complete the rest of her world tour, capping it off with a performance at A Concert for Charlottesville, another city reeling in the aftermath of senseless violence. A lot of mainstream top 40 types—those who, say, have a certain Reputation—are seemingly reluctant to take a political stance. The fear being, presumably, a loss of fan base and revenue. “That’s wild to me,” Ariana says. She is loud and proud in her anti-Trumpism and has aligned herself with gun reform and Black Lives Matter. I wonder if she’s gotten any backlash. “Of course!” she says. “There’s a lot of noise when you say anything about anything. But if I’m not going to say it, what’s the fucking point of being here? Not everyone is going to agree with you, but that doesn’t mean I’m just going to shut up and sing my songs. I’m also going to be a human being who cares about other human beings; to be an ally and use my privilege to help educate people.” For her, the role of the artist is to “not only help people and comfort them, but also push people to think differently, raise questions, and push their boundaries mentally.”

There’s another song on Sweetener that I misjudge based on the title alone. I assume “The Light Is Coming” will be a sweet balm of a ballad in response to the darkest of days. Nope. It’s a bass-thumping dance track featuring Ariana’s friend, collaborator, and “big sis,” Nicki Minaj. (“That’s a ride-or-die situation. She is the best there is, male or female,” Ariana says.) “The light is coming to give back everything the darkness stole,” Ariana trills. But then, what is light without the dark? I think of Joan’s campy Halloween house, the Jaws party, those villains—and the bright star who draws her energy from them all.

Before I go, Ariana shows me her Met Gala manicure. It’s also The Last Judgement, this time decaled across her fingers, each nail gilded with a tiny 3-D gold frame. The detail is mind-blowing, and yet it’s a small tattoo of the female symbol that catches my eye. It’s on her middle finger. “Yeah, it comes in handy,” she says.

Source: ELLE.com

Ariana Grande covers the July issue of British Vogue

On June 5th, it was announced that Ariana Grande is the cover star of the July issue of British Vogue! Photographed by Craig McDean and styled by Kate Phelan with hair by Chris Appleton and make-up by Mark Carrasquillo, she wears a Chanel autumn/winter 2018 lace dress with jewelled straps for her #NewVogue debut. Check out an excerpt from the interview below!


Inside the issue, the popstar and social-media titan shares details of her difficult and transformative past year with Vogue’s Giles Hattersley, including how she coped with symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder in the wake of the Manchester bombing. “It’s hard to talk about because so many people have suffered such severe, tremendous loss. But, yeah, it’s a real thing,” she says. “I know those families and my fans, and everyone there experienced a tremendous amount of it as well. Time is the biggest thing. I feel like I shouldn’t even be talking about my own experience – like I shouldn’t even say anything. I don’t think I’ll ever know how to talk about it and not cry.”

At home in her curiously decorated mansion in Beverly Hills, she goes on to give Vogue a preview of her fourth album, Sweetener. “I think a lot of people have anxiety, especially right now,” she says, as a pounding song concludes. How is your anxiety, Hattersley asks? “My anxiety has anxiety… I’ve always had anxiety. I’ve never really spoken about it because I thought everyone had it, but when I got home from tour it was the most severe I think it’s ever been.” She was back in the studio the day after finishing her concert commitments in Asia, South America and Australia in September 2017, a decision, that is, she explains, down to being a workaholic. “Everybody thought I was crazy when I got home and wanted to hit the ground running.”

Read the full interview in the July issue, which is out on newsstands on June 8.

Source: Vogue.co.uk

Ariana Grande covers The Fader’s 2018 Summer Music Issue

On May 29th, Ariana Grande has been revealed as the second of four artists to cover The FADER’s 2018 Summer Music Issue. The print issue hits newsstands in June, but ahead of the release, the magazine has shared the cover photo as well as highlights from Grande’s interview Wednesday morning (May 30). The pop star shared details on her next album, life after the Manchester bombing, and how her fans encourage her to be vulnerable.

Check out the full coverage below!


I don’t really want to start off by talking about Ariana Grande’s ponytail, but I can’t help it. Today, her silver hair has been built up with multiple extensions by her Grecian god of a hairdresser, Chris Appleton; as Ariana shuffles around a cavernous photo studio in slides she designed for Reebok, it bobs behind her like a loyal Pokémon. There’s detailed braiding going on in the front and pounds and pounds tied up in the back, with some pieces dyed a pleasing shade of lilac. When I first spot her across the room — alongside her mom, Joan, who is in full Calabasas momager drag — I release a long “yaaaas” under my breath.

The 24-year-old singer has worn variations of the high and tight hairstyle since 2013 and has rarely appeared in public without it. In 2014, after some people online started to beg for a new style, she explained in a Facebook note that it’s the only look she was comfortable wearing: years of bleaching and dying her hair red, when she was a teen actor on Nickelodeon, damaged it severely.

On the cover art for this spring’s “No Tears Left To Cry,” the lead single from Sweetener, her fourth album, out this August, she left her fans proverbially bald by being photographed with a ponytail that was 45 degrees lower than normal. As one viral tweet put it: “Ariana lowered her ponytail, it’s over for you bitches.”

Since releasing her first single at 19, Ariana has managed to defy the pop star convention of reinventing her look for each musical era. At the end of our interview, I ask if she considered going totally nuclear for this album cycle, like if she ever thought of shaving her head. After the year she’s had, she could certainly play the reinvention card.

She wraps her hair around her hand and gives it a comb and affectionate toss. “The pony has also gone through an evolution, and I’m proud of that,” she says with a heaping tablespoon of self-awareness. “Old pony? I don’t know if she’s that girl. But new pony? I like her. I mean, it’s like a Victoria Secret angel without angel wings. It’s still her without them, but when she’s with them it’s like, Ohh, I get it, she’s an angel.”

During the cover shoot for this story, she’s just like the Ariana I’ve seen in concert and followed on social media: absurdly warm, a theatre kid through and through. When the stereo malfunctions on set, she sings throaty Christmas carols to everyone’s delight. Every day, she sends her best friends good-morning voice notes in a cartoonishly demonic tone. She’s the kind of person who finds out her song is the No. 1 single in 80 countries and the only words she shares with her followers are an emoji-filled “Holy ass titty, thank you so much, what??????”

At the end of our day, her team carefully coordinates her exit. A Range Rover backs all the way into the massive studio and security leads her inside as if they’re escorting a head of state. It seems like this will be the new normal for the rest of her life.

In May of 2017, Ariana performed to a sold-out crowd at a Manchester, U.K. stop on her Dangerous Woman world tour, which was originally planned to take her to six continents over eight months. Shortly after the show was over, a bomber set off an explosion in the arena’s foyer. Her concerts attract a fairly young crowd, so the area was bustling with parents waiting to pick up their kids. The explosion killed 23 people and injured over 500. It was the deadliest terror attack in the U.K. in over a decade.

Ariana and her crew were still backstage when it happened, and no one on her team was hurt. Hours after they’d been cleared out of the arena safely, she tweeted, “broken. from the bottom of my heart, i am so so sorry. i don’t have words.”

Even almost a year later, she still can’t talk that much about it. She hasn’t sat down for an interview in months, and pretty much has cut off all communication from the outside world. At the first mention of the word Manchester during our chat, she begins to tear up and at several points breaks down into sobbing. As she explains to me, “I guess I thought with time, and therapy, and writing, and pouring my heart out, and talking to my friends and family that it would be easier to talk about, but it’s still so hard to find the words. When you’re so close to something so tragic and terrifying and opposite of what music and concerts are supposed to be, it kind of leaves you without any ground beneath your feet.”

In the hours after the attack, Lloyd’s of London, the bank that insured her tour, called her manager, Scooter Braun, and said they’d cover Ariana’s full pay for the rest of the schedule dates. Because she would have avoided the cost of putting on the shows, she actually stood to make more by canceling. But as Scooter later tells me, “It wasn’t about the money for her. It was about showing her fans and the world that she is who she says she is and being strong for them.”

They suspended the tour for seven dates, but Ariana wanted to go back on the road. Scooter suggested they play Manchester again, and they quickly organized what became One Love Manchester, a benefit concert that raised over $23 million for the victims and their families. On June 3, a day before the event was set to take place, a terrorist attack hit London: a van driver on London Bridge ran into a crowd and killed eight people. Ariana and other key artists on the bill — Chris Martin, Katy Perry, and Marcus Mumford — all stressed that they needed to play now more than ever.

At the end of the concert, after all the acts came together to sing Ariana’s “One Last Time,” she slowly walked to the front of the stage alone. She started singing “Over the Rainbow” from The Wizard of Oz, backed only by a piano. She crushed the bridge the first time, but then she went back, repeating it with such stunning conviction that it was impossible not to hear the song — one you’ve heard your whole life — in a completely new way. In the footage of this moment, every person is openly sobbing. Ariana finished the song through tears and you could hear her crying in the mic, the first time she broke her tough front all night. She somehow managed to sing the chorus one more time.

When I ask her why she chose to close the concert with that song, she starts to cry again. The song was her grandpa’s favorite, she says, and she would sing it to him at home when she was a little girl with an abnormally powerful voice. “He would always tell me to sing it in my concerts. He would always say, ‘You know what you should end with? “Over the Rainbow.”’ And I never did it until that moment. When I was getting ready to do it, I was thinking about him and I felt his presence so heavily around me. He was the person I was closest to in my life. He was everything I wanted to be: as a businessman, as a gentleman, as a human being, as a friend, everything. He was just perfect to me.”

“Here is my bleeding heart, and here is a trap beat behind it.”
In the days after the Manchester attack, when she was recuperating at her childhood home in Boca Raton, Florida, he was there too. “I found a stack of stationery next to my bed in a Ziploc baggie, and he had written on it, ‘For Ariana.’ I don’t remember seeing it before, and it was next to my bed.” She says she ended the show with that song because it was meant to be: “He tapped me on the shoulder and told me to.”

She says the tears came at that moment because it was when she was truly one with her audience. “The fact that all of those people were able to turn something that represented the most heinous of humanity into something beautiful and unifying and loving is just wild.”

The tour picked back up after One Love Manchester, and Ariana spent June, July, and August on a whirlwind journey across Europe, Latin America, and Asia. “We pushed through and we got home, and once things slowed down, everyone started to really feel it,” she says. “That’s when the process really began. We were riding this adrenaline wave and being strong with each other. Once we got home, we were like, ‘WHEW. Now the real work begins,’ and I’m sobbing.”

Way before any of this, Ariana knew it was time to elevate herself. In 2016, she met with Pharrell and told him: “Take me somewhere completely new — let’s just go.” The pair made “a million” songs together, and she says she enjoyed the freedom to create without a label’s imposed due date. Most importantly, though, as Ariana recalls, he sat her down, pointed at her heart, and told her it was time she show her fans what’s really going on in there. Over email, he explained his producer role with her as “part listener, part therapist, part stenographer.”

Ariana was sick of straightforward song structures and wanted lots of plot twists, which is one of Pharrell’s particular strengths. Take, for example, “The Light Is Coming,” a twitchy new wave track — a far cry from the easily digestible songs of her past. That kind of creative experimentation might make a major label skittish, but as Pharrell told me, the events in Manchester gave a hard reset to the project’s expectations. Half of the tracks that make up the album’s final tracklist are produced by him.

“In all honesty, I feel like [after Manchester] was when different people from the record company actually started to understand what we were trying to do,” Pharrell said. “It’s unfortunate that that situation is what gave it context, but they were able to really see it then. And that’s the truth.”

“The Light” was made with a guest feature in mind, and Ariana auditioned eight rappers for the spot — “I don’t mean to sound like a terrible person, but I wasn’t in love with any of it” — before turning to her friend Nicki Minaj. She texted Nicki the song and asked if she would be interested in the spot. In Ariana’s words, Nicki was like, “Ho-lee-shit-I-love-this,” and called her on up on a rainy morning at 5:00 a.m. to come hear the verse. “I went in my slippers and pajamas to the studio and she killed it,” she says. “That’s what Nicki Minaj does, she elevates a record. If you’re going to have a rapper on a song, they need to really really really be there for a reason, and she does that every single time.”

On “Borderline,” another Pharrell production, Missy Elliott makes a guest appearance, an experience that Ariana has been aiming for since she was crazy young, dancing in her room to Missy’s music, and studying her music videos directed by Dave Meyers, who ended up directing the clip for “No Tears Left To Cry.”

The other half of the album was produced by the most trusted and scientific hitmaker in pop, Max Martin. This is a lot of the work that Ariana produced after Manchester, and she says she got the songwriting bug this time around. It’s a bit of a cliché to say that an artist’s new album is their most personal album yet, but for Ariana it’s really true.

On “Get Well Soon,” she traces her way through the intimate corners of an anxiety attack. “Girl what’s wrong with you? / Come back down.” Eventually, she sings herself back to stability. She wrote the lyrics right after she experienced one, and her words are backed by piano, some bells, and a thousand refractions of her gorgeous voice. “The thing that makes me feel OK with opening up and finally allowing myself to be vulnerable is that I know [my fans] feel the same feelings,” she says. “I’ve talked to them about it. I have fans that have become friends of mine. I have their numbers, and we talk all the time. I played [the song] for them before I played it for my label. They were like, ‘Thank you,’ when they heard that one. It was so scary to do that, but to see them be like, ‘I get it, I feel that too’…”

These creative risks signal a more thoughtful phase in her career. “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. Here you go. Also, I cried 10 hundred times in the session writing it for you. Here is my bleeding heart, and here is a trap beat behind it.’ There’s definitely some crying-on-the-dancefloor stuff on this one.” She balances gravitas with snackable joy on “No Tears,” the garage-inflected anthem that introduced people to this new sonic era. On “God Is A Woman,” a choir backs her over a beat you could probably get excommunicated for dancing the right way to.

A few weeks after our interview, Ariana posted to her Instagram story that she decided to add five tracks to her album, bringing the total tracklist up to 15 songs. We hopped on the phone to talk about the last-minute creative push, and Ariana seems even happier and more energized than before.

After recently reaching an “emotional rock bottom,” she revisited some of the songs she had decided to initially cut. The additions are three more from the Pharrell sessions, one from the Max camp, and one with her close past collaborator producer Tommy Brown. She first worried that these songs were “too emotionally honest” and might make her fans worried, but after some of the fears she was writing about came true, she gave them a second look. “There are parts of my life that they would love to know about,” she says, “and hard times that I have been dealing with for the past year-and-a-half that they deserve to know about because they love me endlessly and care. I don’t want to hide any pain from them because I can relate to their pain. Why not be in it together?”

She explains to me she that realized she had still been putting up emotional walls. “I guess I was kind of running on zero and pretending to be at a 10 for about 10 months,” she says. “It took me getting to, I deserve to be at a 10, and fuck it, and let’s fucking go, and now I feel so free and happy as fuck. Reaching that feeling made me look at the songs and be like What? What?! I wasn’t going to put this on the album? Oh my god, this is a bop! What was I fucking thinking? How did I get in my own head about blah-blah-blah that I would dare take this off the album.”

Recovery is a real process, and fortunately Ariana has taken some time for herself. Lately, she’s been heads-down on her album while enjoying living a serene life in L.A. with her seven dogs. She says she’s been watching an intense amount of Grey’s Anatomy, finishing five seasons — that’s over 100 hours — in just the past month. She swears that she’s a total Christina but also shares Izzie’s emotional side; if there’s a better show about a group of friends managing to process a seemingly endless trail of grief, I can’t think of one.

She says therapy has been helpful for her — she’s actually been in it her whole life and has always been a fan. “It has helped me deal with so much. I think it’s great for everybody. Especially in this regard. Therapy is the best. It really is.”

It’s also the first time she’s lived a home life in maybe forever, and she’s relished it. “I feel like all of a sudden I woke up and I’m an adult. It’s really crazy for me,” she says in disbelief. She likes to wake up at 6:30 in the morning and watch her house get enveloped by the early morning L.A. mist, a “yummy dream cloudland,” she says.

“I’ve never been this vulnerable to myself. I feel like I graduated almost.”
In the year before our interview, Ariana’s only real public appearances were for political causes. Last November, she appeared as the youngest act at A Concert for Charlottesville, a musical benefit in Virginia that was organized by Dave Matthews after Heather Heyer was murdered by a white supremacist when Neo-Nazis stormed the city. In March, she was one of the headliners at the March for Our Lives in Washington D.C., the demonstration of students against gun violence after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. “We’re in such a trying time and people have been responding with acceptance, love, inclusion, and passion,” she says. “This generation, they’re standing up and they’re not going to take no for an answer.”

When the kids from Parkland came to Los Angeles, Scooter arranged for them to meet her before their protest took place. They sat around the floor of his living room in a circle and talked about theatre, their shared experiences, and she opened up about Manchester, specifically about what happens when time passes after a tragic event and things quiet down. They became fast friends and hugged and cried a lot.

“That sums up who she is,” Scooter told me. “That’s when you see the best of her: when the cameras aren’t on. Because a lot of people know how to turn it on for the cameras. She is who she is all of the time.”

A weird thing to think about is that Ariana Grande almost didn’t make it as a singer — she wasn’t always seen as an easily relatable person with superhuman talents. On Nickelodeon, she played the always-oblivious sidekick Cat Valentine in the performing arts school comedy Victorious, which was a star vehicle for Victoria Justice. Eventually, that role translated into a goofy spin-off called Sam & Cat, which had a successful first season but ended after 36 episodes. She recorded a few songs for the show’s bubblegum soundtracks and made guest appearances on a couple of Nick stars’ projects, but nothing really made a dent beyond her young TV audience. Sony had passed on her, and Nickelodeon didn’t think of her as more than a secondary character. So she pursued music on her own terms on YouTube, under her very early ’00s username “osnapitzari.”

In one clip she uploaded in 2007, when she was 14, she stands in front of a loop pedal machine and uses different recordings of her voice to create a multi-layered track with herself as every instrument as well as the lead vocalist. It’s super cute and psychotically impressive. A couple of years later, in 2012 — with peak “old pony” — she recorded a cover of Justin Bieber’s “Die In Your Arms.” That got the attention of Bieber’s manager, Scooter Braun, who signed her shortly after. Her 2013 debut, Yours Truly, a poppy R&B album mostly produced by Babyface, debuted at No. 1, and so did its 2014 follow up, My Everything, which made Ariana a fixture of the Billboard top 10.

Ariana’s four-octave range, which is stronger than pretty much any of the current pop singers in her lane, made her a star. She’s got an especially light head voice, which makes her high notes sound like glitter cannons shooting through rainbows, especially when her vocal tracks are layered on top of each other. In a now-iconic 2016 Twitter thread, it was determined that she does in fact “Have The Range.”

For an example of her skill, consider the slightly underperforming but beloved 2016 single “Into You.” It’s an intense love song that kicks off with a lyric that Lorde remarked on Twitter was maybe the closest thing to “pop perfection” she’s ever heard: “I’m so into you / I can barely breathe.” Near the song’s end, after the epic bridge, the chorus repeats a few times with a swirl of harmonies and ad-libs.

“Those moments to me are when a song comes together,” Ariana says. “When you get to the chorus, you do a couple of ad lib takes and you do all the harmonies in the world. My favorite things are vocal production, harmonies, and vocal arrangement. That’s when a song has its legs.”

For me, as a gay man — and I’m a little embarrassed to say this — those transcendent musical moments and the way I react to them let me know that being gay is not a choice and I was in fact born this way. Although queer fandom is a given for most pop stars, Ariana’s seems especially deserved. “I grew up singing in gay bars,” she says. “I grew up with a gay brother, who is my best friend. Boys taught me how to do my makeup. This is an authentic love.” The second verse of “No Tears Left To Cry,” she tells me, is about “the sweet cuties” in her tour meet-and-greets who have come out to her.

Here’s how she says their interactions go:

Fan: Hi mom.

Ariana: Hi babe.

Fan: I’m gay.

Ariana: Work! Really?

Fan: That was my first time saying that to anyone.

Ariana: WHAT!? NO FUCKING WAY, COME HERE!

It’s moments like this that have her excited to share this album and get back out on tour, despite everything she’s gone through over the past year. If the Ariana Doctrine is to go around the world spreading love and positivity in the face of hate, she’s making music that matches the ambitions of those grown-up goals. “I’ve never been this vulnerable to myself,” she says. “I feel like I graduated almost. I feel like for a long time the songs were great, but they weren’t songs that made me feel something the way these songs do.”

Towards the end of our time together, she tells me the story of a day that summed up what her life has been like lately. It takes place on a foggy, rainy day — her favorite kind. “I was driving home from work and I just felt an overwhelming peace wash over me,” she remembers. “I just started tearing up — tears of gratitude because of perspective, because of growth, opening up and finding the ground again because of music, friends, and love. I was just overwhelmed by how simple it can be if you let it.”

Source: TheFader.com

Ariana Grande is one of TIME’s 2018 Next Generation Leaders

On May 17th, the list of TIME’s 2018 Next Generation Leaders have been announced, and it features Ariana Grande herself! Check out the full photoshoot and interview below!


Ariana Grande is happy, and it’s important to her that people know that. Still, it would be hard to miss her happiness on this sunny spring day at a ramshackle house in Beverly Hills. It beams out of her as she sprawls on the lawn, murmuring in baby talk to Toulouse, her rescue beagle-chihuahua, and it suffuses the way she vogues out of the house into the yard, spinning and twirling in a frilly gray tulle dress.

She has a lot of reasons to be happy. At 24, Grande is one of the biggest pop stars in the world, and she’s coming out with new music two years after her last album, the blockbuster Dangerous Woman. Her latest single is called “No Tears Left to Cry.” Going off the title, you’d expect a big torch ballad—she’s run out of tears! Instead, it’s a triumphant, ’90s-house-inflected pop confection, part breathy vocals and part spunky, spoken-word playfulness. She chose it carefully: “The intro is slow, and then it picks up,” she says. “And it’s about picking things up.”

Grande made a song about resilience because she has had to be resilient, in ways that are difficult to imagine, after a terrorist detonated a bomb outside her May 22, 2017, concert in Manchester, England, killing 22 people and leaving more than 500 injured. What happened is part of the song, but the song is not about what happened. Instead of being elegiac, it’s joyful and lush, and Grande is proud of it, and of herself. “When I started to take care of myself more, then came balance, and freedom, and joy,” she says. “It poured out into the music.” In the video for the song, she’s upside-down, the way life used to feel. “We’ve messed with the idea of not being able to find the ground again,” she says, “because I feel like I’m finally landing back on my feet now.”

Grande is petite, with Kewpie-doll eyes and a wide, easy smile. She often wears her hair in a big ponytail, but today it is pulled back into an elaborate topknot, with little wisps of hair coming down behind her ears like a halo. When she talks, she is earnest and enthusiastic—you can hear her theater-kid roots.

Grande grew up in South Florida; her mom was the CEO of a communications company and her father a successful graphic designer. As a child, she always wanted to perform. “I loved wearing Halloween masks in June and doing stand-up in my kitchen for my grandparents,” she says. She was precocious and driven. “My friend from preschool found a notebook that we must have written when we were 5 or 6 years old that was like, ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’” she says. “Mine said, ‘I want to be on Nickelodeon and then I want to sing.’”

She performed in local theater, then on Broadway in the musical 13. When she was 16, she was cast on the Nickelodeon show Victorious, which made her a star, though mostly with younger viewers, and she dabbled in bubblegum pop. She signed with Republic Records after the label’s chairman saw videos of her covering Whitney Houston and Adele on YouTube.

Her first official single, “The Way,” was released in 2013. It didn’t sound like the music she had recorded for Nickelodeon; it was breezy, catchy throwback soul, and it showed off her towering voice, which at times sounds almost instrumental. (Even die-hard fans have pointed out that, depending on how Grande sings, it can be hard to make out her lyrics—a critique she clearly takes in stride. At one point during our interview, after finishing a winding thought, she turned to me and asked, “Did I enunciate?” and then flashed a mischievous smile.)

Her first album, Yours Truly, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and sold more than 500,000 copies worldwide, and her follow-ups, My Everything and Dangerous Woman, did even better. She released a string of chart-topping collaborations, including “Problem” (featuring Iggy Azalea), “Love Me Harder” (featuring the Weeknd) and “Side to Side” (featuring Nicki Minaj). She toured the world. Got labeled a diva, as happens to pretty much all women in music. Became the third most followed person on Instagram. It was a lot to handle, even though she had wanted success. “There was an adjustment period, because my life changed drastically,” she says. She has settled into it by now. “If I want to go out, then I’m going to go out as Ariana Grande and be O.K. with it,” she says. “If I’m feeling less O.K., I’ll probably stay in bed and watch Grey’s Anatomy.”

Everything was different, Grande says, when she was making her new album. First off, she took the lead on writing songs, which she had never really done before. “I was just so excited about singing,” she says of her previous efforts. “So I co-wrote, but I was never as involved.” She was also vocal with her producers—namely Max Martin, Savan Kotecha and Pharrell Williams, three of the most reliable hitmakers in music—about experimenting with her sound. “There was nothing I wouldn’t try,” she says. She told Williams she wanted to “make the weirdest thing we can first.” There are several moments on the record—both on the lead single and on an anthemic, sultry banger called “God Is a Woman”—in which Grande’s voice is layered so that it sounds like a choir, but really, it’s only her, multiplied. On another song, “Get Well Soon,” her vocals are interwoven in dense layers of sound, creating an otherworldly effect. “It’s like I’m talking to all of my thoughts in my head,” she says, “and they’re singing back to me.”

Grande credits this newfound creative freedom to the work she has done to heal herself. “I felt more inclined to tap into my feelings because I was spending more time with them,” she says. “I was talking about them more. I was in therapy more.” Although she had struggled with anxiety in the past, she says, “I never opened up about it, because I thought that was how life was supposed to feel.” What, specifically, was making her anxious? She shakes her head. It’s hard to talk about.

Here’s what Scooter Braun, Grande’s manager, tells me about what happened last summer, after the terrorist attack in Manchester. Grande had flown home to stay at her grand-mother’s house in Boca Raton, Fla., and Braun met her there, where he asked her to do something that, he says, he knew at the time was unfair. “I said, ‘We need to get a concert and get back out there.’ She looked at me like I was insane. She said, ‘I can never sing these songs again. I can’t put on these outfits. Don’t put me in this position.’” They decided to cancel the rest of the tour.

Two days later, Braun was on a flight, and he landed to find 16 text messages from Grande saying, “Call me. I need to speak to you.” When they finally spoke, she said, “If I don’t do something, these people died in vain.” They decided to put on a concert in Manchester to benefit the families that were affected.

The minute they arrived, just days after the bombing, they set out to help. They went to the hospital and sat with survivors. They met with families of the deceased. As the concert loomed, they began to worry that people would be too afraid to show up.

But more than 50,000 people turned out. A dozen other artists—including Justin Bieber, Coldplay and Katy Perry—flew in to perform. Grande closed the night with a performance of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” with tears streaming down her face. The show, called One Love Manchester, was broadcast live on British TV and streamed all over the world, alongside information about how to donate; it helped raise over $12 million for victims of the bombing and their families. The city of Manchester named Grande an honorary citizen, citing her “great many selfless acts and demonstrations of community spirit.”

“We put a lot on her shoulders,” Braun says. “And she took over. You know, for the rest of her life, she can say that she is exactly who she claims to be.”

So that’s what happened. After the Manchester show, Grande finished the tour. And then she went dark for a while.

Grande had built a career on the fizzy, ebullient joy of music as escape: the spine-tingling voice, the thrilling live shows, the polished music videos. Now, even though she had nothing to do with the attack, she had become central to the narrative in a way that made it inexorable. And yet what had she really lost, compared with so many others? People had lost children, parents, partners, friends. To make art that was explicitly about it would look exploitative. But to ignore it would be disingenuous.

She knows I am going to ask her about this before I have even said the words. She can see it in my eyes, and I can see it in hers, and she begins to cry—not graceful tears, but deep, choking sobs. “I’m sorry,” she says. “I’ll do my best.”

Slowly, she starts to elaborate: “There are so many people who have suffered such loss and pain.” Her own grief feels both enormous and insignificant. “The processing part is going to take forever,” she says, and sobs again. She doesn’t want to talk about the attack. “I don’t want to give it that much power,” she says. “Something so negative. It’s the absolute worst of humanity. That’s why I did my best to react the way I did. The last thing I would ever want is for my fans to see something like that happen and think it won.”

“Music is supposed to be the safest thing in the world,” she continues. “I think that’s why it’s still so heavy on my heart every single day.” She takes a deep breath. “I wish there was more that I could fix. You think with time it’ll become easier to talk about. Or you’ll make peace with it. But every day I wait for that peace to come and it’s still very painful.” There is no tidy resolution. There is no why. It just happened. Grande looks up at the sky. “I’m sorry,” she says again. “What was the question?”

The bee has been a symbol of Manchester for years; it’s a nod to the city’s hardworking citizens, the worker bees who built up the region during the Industrial Revolution. After the attack, thousands of people in Manchester got bee tattoos. So did Grande and members of her crew. Now she sees bees everywhere. There’s one at the very end of the video for “No Tears Left to Cry,” in the final frame, buzzing away.

It’s part of how she carries what happened in Manchester with her. She performed at the Charlottesville, Va., unity concert as well as the March For Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C., and she met with some of the survivors of the Parkland, Fla., shooting. “They’re so young but so brilliant and so strong,” she says. “We had a lot to talk about with what we’ve both been through.”

Her new album, Grande says, is called Sweetener. She decided to call it that because that’s the message she wanted to give to her fans: that you can take a bad situation and make it better. “When you’re handed a challenge,” she says, “instead of sitting there and complaining about it, why not try to make something beautiful?”

That sentiment hits home for Grande as well. “I’m happy,” she says, and tears spill out of her eyes again. She wipes them away. “I’m crying,” she says, “but I’m happy.”

Source: TIME.com

Ariana Grande to be on the cover of Cosmopolitan Magazine in April

On March 1st, it was announced that Ariana Grande will be on the cover of the April issue of Cosmopolitan magazine! Check out the photos and behind the scenes look below!

On being strong and having a voice: “A lot of times, women are labeled as a bitch or a diva for having a vision and being strong and using their voice, and it’s just not the case. You can be strong and be friendly. [We] don’t have to be just one thing.”

On falling in love: “I’ve never looked at love as something that I need to complete me. I would like to be complete on my own first and fall in love with somebody who is also complete. You can still celebrate and be totally obsessed with each other, but I want to feel a hundred percent myself so that I can love that person better.”

On her boyfriend, Mac Miller: “I met him when I was 19. We have loved and adored and respected each other since the beginning, since before we even met, just because we were fans of each other’s talent. We weren’t ready at all, though, to be together. It’s just timing.”

On Madonna: “I have the utmost respect for that woman. I love her with every ounce of my being, and not just because I’m obsessed with her entire discography. I’m so inspired by her bravery and her strength. I can look at her and not be scared to be strong.”

For more of Ariana Grande’s exclusive interview and photo shoot with Cosmopolitan, pick up the April 2017 issue on newsstands March 7 or click here to subscribe to the digital edition!

Harvey Fierstein on working with Ariana Grande in Hairspray Live!

On December 6th, Harvey Fierstein talked with Gay Times Magazine on working with Ariana Grande and donning the heels again for Hairspray Live.


Creator of the musical and starring as Edna Turnblad — mother of Tracy — in the NBC live broadcast, Harvey has moved from writing the story on page, to starring on Broadway, and now a live television show.

In the current issue of GT, we sat down with the King of gay theatre to find out how he prepares to bring Edna back to live once again.

“It’s more scary than exciting,” he giggles.

“I mean, it’s live television and I’ve never done that before. At my age, to take on something like this is HUGE! Holding together a performance during commercial breaks? I just don’t know about that. I guess I didn’t say ‘no’ because life is only as exciting as the times you say ‘yes’, right?”

But how has the lengthy rehearsal process with his American Music Award-winning co-star Ariana Grande been so far?

“She’s huge, but the whole cast is flipping awesome,” he smiles.

“We did some press which is when I properly met Ariana; she’s such a doll-and-a-half. We giggled and we laughed! We sat down to do a table reading, she sat next to me, and when she sang she blew me out of my chair — WOW! When it came to my time to sing, I said calmly, ‘You can all go for coffee now!’”

Source: GayTimes.co.uk

Mac Miller reveals his relationship status with Ariana Grande

Ariana Grande called him ‘boo’ at the 2016 MTV Video Music Awards, confirming Mac Miller’s relationship with the singer. But when did it all start?

The rapper reached out to Grande when he thought she would be a great artist to feature on the track “My Favorite Part” on his fourth album The Divine Feminine (out Friday).

“I wrote that love song before I saw her. We’re very good friends first and foremost,” Miller told PEOPLE at the taping of the AT&T Audience Network Presents series on September 12. “We made that song and started becoming close again. It’s very dope and I like how that worked out.”

Miller, 24, and Grande, 23, had previously collaborated on her hit song “The Way”, so it wasn’t the first time they’d worked together, but in this session it was like no time had passed.

The two performed “My Favorite Part” at the weekly music series and their chemistry was fierce. At the end of the song, Grande shook Miller’s hand, as though to thank him jokingly for doing business with her, and walked off stage.

“Pleasure working with you,” he said, to which she replied: “I’ll be in touch.”

After the cameras stopped rolling, Grande went back on stage to put her hands on his shoulders and they shared a sweet moment. She cupped his face in her hands, leaned in and kissed him, at which point Miller kissed her right back.

The two love making music and spending as much time together as they can, so it makes sense that the relationship was a natural progression of their friendship.

“We hung out for a long time and everything just happened organically. We love making music together – we do that always. But she’s my best friend in the world.”

And Miller enjoys their time together on stage as well. “We’ve performed together a lot – when “The Way” came out, we did all the shows,” he said. “We’re both relaxed – we just have fun. And everybody gets an ‘awww’ moment.”

The “awww” really comes in when he describes Grande to others.

“She’s just very warm and comforting,” he said. “She’s very caring but, also, we have a lot of fun. We go on adventures. Adventures can be driving around in the car aimlessly. It’s great to be able to do nothing and be doing so much.”

Source: People.com

Ariana Grande talks Lipsy London & Ed Sheeran with LOOK

Ariana Grande is on the February cover of the UK magazine LOOK, and her photos with Lipsy London have been put inside the excerpt, along with an interview about the collection, feminism and bullying, and artists such as Ed Sheeran, Nathan Sykes, Adele, and more! Check out the interview below!


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You’re very outspoken about equality and feminism, why are these issues so important to you?

‘I love surrounding myself with strong women and I love promoting that kind of attitude.’

What misconceptions about feminism would you like to break down?

‘Feminism is just about promoting equality- it’s not a scary thing- we should all consider ourselves feminists.’

You’ve spoken out a lot about online bullying, what do you think can be done to prevent if from happening?

‘All you can do is lead by example. We’ve all been there or know someone who has. I see it daily and it breaks my heart.’

You wrote an amazing piece on Twitter about the double standards women experience, what examples of these have you encountered recently in your own life?

‘I think all of us have experienced double standards at one time or another. It’s important that we stick up for ourselves and for other women.’

Who do you look up to?

‘Madonna! I recently performed with her and it was everything and more. That woman’s drive is beyond.’

Recently you worked with your ex [former The Wanted band member, Nathan Sykes] wasn’t that tough? 

‘We are friends and I am so happy with how the song turned out.’

Ed Sheeran said you have a foul mouth after last year’s VS secrets, is that true? 

‘I can be known to have quite the inappropriate sense of humour! And Ed Sheeran is so British and embarrasses easily. He is so easy to make blush. I think people often think I’m totally censored so I love to catch them off guard!’

Which other artists do you love? 

‘I really love Adele, Jessie J’s my girl – collaborating with her was super cool. She brings such a different vibe. I was buzzing off her energy. Ed’s obviously a legend. The Brits know how to do it just much more proper and [all] washed down with a nice cup of tea!’

You’ve got a huge amount of followers online. Tell us that you manage your own accounts…

Have you seen my social media?! No one in their right mind would take ownership of that. It’s me, me, me!

Source: LOOK.co.uk

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Ariana Grande talks ‘Ari’ fragrance with InStyle Magazine

On September 29th, Ariana Grande has a talk with InStyle Magazine to discuss things regarding her new fragrance Ari by Ariana Grande. Check out the interview below!


Ariana Grande bottled up her favorite personality traits into her first fragrance, Ari. “It’s sexy, playful, and sweet, just like me,” the 22-year-old pop star says of her scent, now available for $49 for 1.7 fl. Oz. at ulta.com. “I thought was going to be hard to mix sweet and sexy, but this all came together. I really wanted to give my fans a piece of me—my own favorite smell.” Here she explains the ingredients that make her spritz full of life.

So is it cool to call you Ari now?
“My family calls me that. I wanted that to be the name because the fragrance is so personal. I wanted to give people a piece of me. This is really a statement that says, ‘Here I am!'”

You said you wanted this scent to be sexy, hence the notes of creamy musk and blonde woods. When do you feel your sexiest?
“Right before I do a show, when I’m getting into my costume and when I’m in it.”

More so than when you’re on the red carpet?
“Well, I did feel so pretty in the white Versace dress I wore to the Grammys this year. But honestly? I feel my sexiest when I smell good. [Laughs.]”

How convenient! Though, you have so many tattoos. Don’t you think those are sexy, too?
“Those are more personal. I have a bunch that I feel like people haven’t seen yet because they’re secretive and small. I have 10 total, but you can only see six of them. One of my favorites is the crescent moon on the side of my neck. I never really share the meanings behind my tattoos because tattoos are so personal.”

Also, you’ve made your cat-eye liner pretty much your signature sexy look. How did you become such a beauty pro?
“It took forever but I think I’m there. I think I mastered it by practice and prayer. I use the Smashbox black liner ($22, sephora.com) and the Chanel eyeliner in liquid brown and black ($35, chanel.com). Those are my two favorites.”

You represent your playful side in Ari with aromas like grapefruit and raspberry. IRL, where do you have the most fun?
“Snapchat! [Her username is Moonlightbae.] I love taking candid, funny videos. There is no time to filter or edit—it’s a way for me to directly connect to my fans. Though, I have to admit, I feel so hilariously awkward taking selfies. I pray people aren’t watching.”

What about relaxing? Do you ever get a chance to do that?
“Meditation like clears my mind but I feel like it’s also hard work because it’s hard for me to clear my mind. I do get to relax. I love snuggling up and watching movies, writing in my journal, and watching something good on TV. I used to love Gossip Girl. I love America’s Next Top Model and American Horror Story. I’m a big Scream Queens fan, for the obvious reasons. I also love reading a good book. I just re-read God Wears Lipstick for the billionth time. I feel my coziest when I’m wearing yoga leggings and slippers and a crop top and a hoodie with my fragrance on because it smells really good [laughs].”

 

Of course, always the fragrance! You also wanted your scent to be sweet. The pear and marshmallow do the trick. What’s the sweetest thing about you?
“That’s such a tough one. I guess that I’m such a romantic. I’m so traditional when it comes to that stuff. Love, for me, is laughter, respect, good conversation, genuine support, and more laughter.”

Has anyone come close?
“The last time someone did something sweet for me was when I received a lavender flower arrangement and a cryptic card. I eventually figured out what the message meant, and it was so rewarding.”

Well, what did it mean, Ari?!?
“I’m not telling. It’s a secret.”

Source: InStyle

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Ariana Grande confirms relationship with Big Sean

Pop star Ariana Grande has publicly confirmed her relationship with hip hop artist Big Sean for the first time. In an exclusive interview with the Telegraph Magazine, Grande was asked if it’s true that she is dating Sean Anderson, ASKA Big Sean. ‘Yes,’ replied the 21-year-old. ‘He is one of the most amazing men in the whole world, and that includes my grandfather and my brother. I think the world of him, and he’s an amazing person. That’s kind of all there is to it.’

The pair have been linked since the 26-year-old Anderson contributed to Grande’s second album My Everything. He is a featured artist on album track Best Mistake and stars as the uncredited ‘whisperer’ on the pop star’s breakthrough single Problem. Grande recently became the first female solo artist in the United States to achieve two number one albums within 12 months since 2010 and made UK chart history in July when Problem became the first song to reach number one single based on sales and streaming. Anderson, from Detroit, Michigan, has recorded two studio albums as Big Sean and was engaged to Glee actress and singer Naya Rivera until April of this year.

Elsewhere in the interview, the former Nickelodeon child star combats recent tabloid reports painting her as a precocious ‘diva’, defends controversrial contemporary (and Beverly Hill next-door neighbour) Miley Cyrus and details her love for ‘all things sci-fi and scary’.

The full interview with Grande will be available online on Tuesday 14 October and she appears on the Telegraph Magazine’s cover the following Saturday.

Hope you’re enjoying these updates! Please join the Ariana Today Forum if you’re interested in discussing various topics and interacting with other Arianators~

Ariana Grande on the October issue of Marie Claire

After making it in the covers of major magazines like “Billboard” and “Seventeen” in the past months, Ariana Grande now makes it on the cover of the magazine Marie Claire. Along with an exclusive interview with the singer, the magazine has also had a unique photoshoot. Check out all the photos by clicking the thumbnails below:

Magazine

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Photoshoot

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Behind the Scenes

Ariana Grande for Billboard Magazine

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Ariana Grande is easily mistaken for an old-school good girl. The singer wears Audrey Hepburn-style strapless gowns, travels everywhere with her mother and trades lovey-dovey messages with on-again, off-again boyfriend Jai Brooks (of Internet comedy boy-troupe The Janoskians) over Instagram. Last year, she implored fans to boycott SeaWorld after the damning documentary Blackfish came out. “I think people see me as a little cutesy thing,” she says, looking, in fact, demure and adorable, seated with her feet tucked underneath her on a giant leather couch. “But I’m literally the most sardonic person you’ve ever met.”

Proud oddball Iggy Azalea — Grande’s collaborator on “Problem,” the song-of-the-summer contender that has elevated Grande to superstar status — allows that Grande, while “very sweet,” is definitely “quirky.” Last year, bloggers simply had her pegged as a “mini-Mariah” for the lush, unabashedly ’90s R&B sound of her debut Yours Truly, which went to No. 1. On Aug. 25, Grande presents her follow-up, My Everything, and three huge singles released in the run-up to the album have already redefined her as a state-of-the-art pop diva: Besides “Problem,” a super-catchy, not-at-all-smooth, kiss-off track, there’s the Ibiza-ready “Break Free” and the woman-power anthem, “Bang Bang,” featuring Nicki Minaj and Jessie J.

Grande, who now lives in Los Angeles, says she was “a very weird little girl” growing up in Boca Raton, Florida: “Dark and deranged. I always wanted to have skeleton face paint on or be wearing a Freddy Krueger mask, and I would carry a hockey stick around. I was like a mini-Helena Bonham Carter.” Sitting in the cavelike lounge we’ve retreated to in downtown L.A., she looses a throaty, almost maniacal laugh. “For my fifth birthday party we had a Jaws theme and all my friends left crying. I mean, I still am that way. But when I was little it was more concerning. There was a stage, when I was 3 or 4, where my mom thought I might grow up to be a serial killer.”

Instead, Grande embarked on a show-tunes-inspired career. She started acting in community theater a few years after the creepy birthday party, and by freshman year in high school, she auditioned and scored her first casting in a Broadway show, 13. That led to a supporting role on Nickelodeon’s teen musical sitcom Victorious and a starring part in the Victorious spinoff, Sam & Cat. Republic Records chairman/CEO Monte Lipman signed Grande when she was 17 and little-known beyond Nickelodeon, after a friend excitedly sent him YouTube videos of her covering Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. Sam & Catonly lasted one season; the final episode aired in July, amid much drama. But two weeks later, “Break Free” placed No. 1 on iTunes. 

Making a hit record was always the goal. “I remember when I first came to L.A. to meet with my managers, I was like, ‘I want to make an R&B album,’ ” recalls Grande. “They were like” — she drops her voice a few registers –” ‘Um, that’s a helluva goal! Who is going to buy a 14-year-old’s R&B album?!'”

Grande’s restless ambition is accompanied by a twitchy energy: She’s hummingbird-tiny at just five feet tall, often walking with a stutter step thanks to her giant high heels. She makes dramatic arm gestures as she talks, with the words tumbling out of her mouth. “I am hypoglycemic so sometimes I’ll get anxious if I forget to eat,” says Grande. “When I was a little girl, I would turn into the Tasmanian devil.”

“Because she is a perfectionist, the one thing I’ll say to her every now and again is, ‘Ari, perfect is not always about being perfect — it’s those flaws that people can relate to,'” says Lipman. “I don’t want you to get to the point where you’re gritting your teeth and your fists are all balled up.”

Grande agrees. “I’m a micromanaging workhorse,” she says, nodding vigorously. “Absolutely an obsessive-compulsive workaholic.” Even as an 8-year-old kid playing Annie, she didn’t want to stop working. “I just wanted to do every single show,” she remembers. “However many there were in a year, I was in every one, whether I was a chorus girl or the lead or doing the lighting.”

At that time, Grande’s older half brother Frankie claimed star status in the family. “My brother was always the one in the spotlight and I liked that,” she explains. (Frankie’s a performer and producer currently working his outsized personality and dyed Mohawk on the deathless CBS reality show Big Brother.) “It was like he was the entertainment for me.” Grande’s mother is Joan Grande, who runs a telephone and alarm system company and moved with Ariana’s father from New York to Florida when she was pregnant with their daughter. Grande’s father, Edward Butera, owns a successful graphic design firm in Boca Raton. “My brother and my mom and my grandparents were always there,” she recalls. “And my dad, until my parents split up when I was 8 or 9.”

The week I spoke with Grande was a rough one. Her beloved grandfather had just passed away at the age of 90, and she was posting photos of him — as a dashing young man in a fedora; on his deathbed, Grande smiling by his side — in online tributes. Like everything else, Grande shares her grief with her fans. In person, though, she struggles to articulate it. “It’s just so fresh and I’m still mourning,” she says in a whisper. “I don’t even know what I would say to be able to encompass what an amazing man he was.” She wipes her forefinger delicately under each eye and smiles. “I mean, how much time do you have?” While in Florida caring for her grand­father, Grande met up with her dad, whom she hadn’t seen in a while. “It was good,” she says. “I love my dad.” But she’s made no secret of the fact that her parents’ divorce and relationship with her father have been tricky. “Everybody with divorced parents knows what it’s like to be in the middle. Even years later I’m still in the middle.”

Grande responded, in part, by cultivating interests from her grandparents. “I have an obsession with all things vintage and classic and old-school, everything from Marlene Dietrich to Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons to Connie Francis,” she says. “My grandpa was always telling me I should sing songs from the Great American Songbook.” But her most towering influence may be Madonna. After hearing Grande easily harmonize to Madonna albums all afternoon, I half joke that the two should do a song together. “Oh my God, my heart would stop,” she gushes. “She is strength, she is freedom, she is wisdom beyond anybody’s comprehension.” Grande was raised Catholic but “departed from that and started practicing my own things when I was around 12 years old,” she says. Now, like Madonna, Grande practices Kabbalah. “As a fellow Kabbalist, I know how hard it is to exercise those tools in your everyday life,” says Grande. “Especially in a world where everything is so egocentric and all you do is talk about yourself and promote yourself.”

Of course, Grande has had to be a tireless self-promoter — even after making it onto TV, she was posting homemade videos online. Her pleasures now are simple, even sparse: “The most relaxing thing to me is going to the beach at night,” she says. “I mostly do it in Boca.” She’ll rehearse with her dancers, even when there’s no event coming up, for the company. And sometimes she’ll fly out her best friend Alexa Paige, a pal from Florida now in college, for fun. But she’s closest with her mother, who she calls “fierce,” and her brother. They’ll play Heads Up! when a few free minutes open up. Frankie being away on Big Brother “is excruciating, because I have no communication with him, and he’s missed so many things.” The afternoon we spend together, Grande is surrounded by functionaries, but instead of a combination assistant-slash-best friend, it’s Joan who makes sure to bring her two bottles of water — one cold, one at room temperature.

Grande’s also remarkably good at keeping her own counsel. “When she sent me ‘The Way’ featuring Mac Miller,” Lipman recalls, referring to Grande’s first big single, “she goes, ‘I just made a record that is a smash.'” When Lipman asked to start planning the video, she said it was already done. (It’s a sweet, simple clip in which a radiant Grande chastely flirts with Miller.) “That video, which cost virtually nothing, is the only video we ever made for that song,” says Lipman. “It’s got 100 million views, and at the end of the day, that was her.”

In scaling up her sound for My Everything, Grande needed to sacrifice control. “Everything that I was terrified to try and was absolutely positive I would hate, I tried,” she says, explaining that at first she was “intimidated” by “Problem” and wary of recording straight-up dance tracks.

“It’s not like, because Ariana has a huge range, she can only do that kind of music,” says her “Break Free” co-writer Anton Zaslavski, aka Zedd. Grande wasn’t so sure. “I hated it at first,” she says, describing her vocals on “Break Free,” which she sings ahead of the beat. Co-producer Max Martin convinced her to sing in what she calls a “more forward placement.” “I was like no, no, no! Please just let me sing it how I would sing it,” she mock-whines. “But he was like, ‘Just try it. Trust me.'” She loved the results. “I was so pleased when I tried something that I thought — no, that I knew I would hate.”

“Problem” was also a difficult sell. “I loved the idea of it, but the chorus, the whisper was so shocking to me,” says Grande, referring to the unexpected, intimate refrain sung by Big Sean — “I got one less problem without you” — which co-writer Savan Kotecha first dreamed up in an airplane bathroom, and completed for Grande after he was brought in to work on My Everything. (“I sang it into my phone,” he remembers. “I had that voice in my head for a year.”) In the main part, she wanted to show off more of her range — her “normal, I’m-not-screaming voice.” But “what makes an Ariana song an Ariana song is that it’s a song no one else can sing,” says Kotecha. “She’s probably one of, if not the best, technical singers of her generation.”

“When I was 14, I wanted to make a straight-up, like, India Arie record,” remembers Grande, laughing. “Something really soulful.” Is it her inner Bonham Carter that pulls Grande toward what she calls “the bittersweetness” of soul music? “Maybe,” she says, sighing. “I honestly think it could be a past-life thing. You know those things where you love something but you don’t know why, or you’re scared of something but you don’t know why? I feel like all of those things are from another life.”

Obviously there’s more to Grande than a shrill, tightly wound diva in training —Election’s Tracy Flick with a four-octave range. She displays a thoughtfulness and a weirdly sane-seeming mysticism that suggest true depth.

Balancing real life as a person and unreal life as a famous person is a big part of what Grande works on these days. “I never thought it would be a thing for me to go out in my pajamas,” she says. Does she feel pressure to hide aspects of her private life? “I do and sometimes I don’t. I vacillate between saying, ‘I need to keep some things private’ and ‘I should be able to be myself, and I need to share what I love and everything with the world!'”

Grande’s also hard at work planning live shows to support the new album. “I did a tiny tour, but it was very small and intimate and on not much of a stage,” says Grande of the shows she played last year, opening up for Justin Bieber. “It’s new, very new. It’s going to be a big shock for me. Here’s the thing,” she says, leaning forward and speaking in a conspiratorial whisper. “I have to launch this album, and I get to do a tour, which all sounds fine and dandy…but I just love being in the studio. I could start a new album right now, tonight. That sounds the most enticing to me. I love it.”

Check out Ariana’s Billboard Shoot: Behind The Scenes!

(CLOSED) WIN: Ariana Grande’s Seventeen magazine cover

THIS GIVEAWAY IS OVER. THANKS FOR JOINING!

The team at arianatoday.net are happy to announce that we have launched our 3rd giveaway! We have teamed up with Magazine Shack (@Magazine_Shack) this time to giveaway one free copy of Ariana Grande’s ‘Seventeen’ magazine cover which hits stores this month!

HOW TO ENTER

You must follow all the steps above to enter or else your entry will not count.

*This giveaway is open WORLDWIDE! Anyone can win this magazine.

The winner will be picked at a random draw on Wednesday, August 13h at 12:00 PM EST, and the winner will be sent the magazine the following day, August 14th.

Be sure to check out magazine-shack.co.uk for many other magazines including the Seventeen copy we’re giving away here.

Ariana Grande interviewed on Seventeen Magazine

Ariana Grande Reveals How She Beat Insecurity & Found Huge Success

She’s one of the world’s biggest pop stars and has over 50 million followers on social media, but in Seventeen’s September issue, Ariana Grande shares an unfiltered look at her true self. Check out what she had to say about overcoming insecurity and finding success, and read the full story in the new issue on newsstands August 5th.

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On Overcoming Her Insecurities

“Everybody has certain things that make them feel insecure. Even when you overcome a huge battle in your life and you make a ton of progress as a person, there are still things that will upset you and break your heart. But I feel like I’m at a point in my life where love is the most important thing, and I won’t let anything come before it.”

The Social Media Superstar On Selfies

“Everybody makes up these ridiculous captions for their selfies that have nothing to do with the picture, like ‘Layin’ in bed on Saturday.’ It’s like, No, you are not! You just spent an hour getting ready for this picture! We all post a selfie for the same reason—because we feel better about ourselves than usual. So just be like, ‘Hey, I feel good about myself today, so here’s a picture!’”

On Doing Anything For Her Fans

“If my fans want something, I’ll always do my best to give it to them. A lot of my fans are in love with my old music, and they’re always asking me if they can have the songs that didn’t make it on the first album. I had to buy [“Boyfriend Material”], so I could just give it to them for free. I really wanted them to have it because they love it!”

On How Her Grandfather Influenced Her Growing Up

“He was like, ‘you’re a star, I know in my heart you’re going to make this family so proud. You’re a blessing.’ And I was like, oh my god, and started crying, and I trusted it.”

In the issue, out August 5th, Ariana talks a lot about her grandfather, who sadly passed after we went to press. She told us: “This interview took place before I lost my grandfather. Reading it back now is of course very hard, but I’m so grateful that I spoke briefly about some of the wisdom he shared with me in this interview. I hope Seventeen readers find it helpful and can relate.”

The Toughest Thing She Has Ever Had To Deal With

“Falling out of touch with my dad. It’s private, but it happened last year. It took me so long to be okay with it. The thing that got me there was embracing the fact that that I am made up of half my dad, and a lot of my traits come from him. So much of me comes from my father, and for so long, I didn’t like that about myself. I had to accept that it’s okay not to get along with somebody and still love them.”

On Putting Herself Out There And Being Totally Exposed

“It’s tough to spend some of the most important years of your life in front of so many strangers who want to pick you apart. Insecurity has been the hardest thing I’ve had to overcome. I think everyone my age struggles with that because everyone strives for approval and wants to feel loved.”

On Working With Iggy Azalea On “Problem”

“For me, a collaboration is taking a song that is great, and turning it into a fantastic song. When you hear IGGY [in “Problem”], it screams confidence and girl power, and all these wonderful things.”

The Biggest Lesson She’s Learned In The Past Few Years

“Being okay with not having the answers to everything. I feel like for the first time in my life, I’m really okay. I used to freak out about everything all the time. I used to be like, ‘Oh my God, somebody said this!’ Everything used to be such a big deal! But now, I feel I can handle everything that comes my way with a calm energy.”

Ariana Grande for V Magazine

Ariana Grande showed off her playful girly side (with the appropriate hint of sex appeal) for V Magazine‘s spring music issue through a series of beautiful black and white photos. The singer also touched on a number of topics, including her hair, her career, being vegan, her idol Madonna and more.

PHOTOSHOOT

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“I use my hair as a mask, as a shield. I hide behind it and it’s what keeps me me. Some people make fun of me for it, but I don’t know who those some people are, so I don’t care,” Grande, who openly revealed that she wears extensions because of all the dye jobs she’s had, said.

Ariana has also been very open about being vegan, and explained why she’s chosen to follow this diet and lifestyle.

“In America, almost everybody thinks you need to have meat for protein. Protein, protein, protein! And what’s in dairy? Calcium, calcium, calcium,” she said. “It’s those kinds of proteins that latch onto the insides of your blood- stream and make it easier for you to have a heart attack. Look, cows produce milk with nutrients for cows. Maybe that’s why Americans end up looking like cows!”

Grande added, “Ultimately, no one wants cow tit pus in their food, do they?”

Cringe.

The Nickelodeon star also shared that she’s focusing on music when it comes to her career. “Music is my dharma. It’s what makes my heart smile and what I feel like I am meant to do. I understand music more than I understand human beings and the English language.”

And one of her idols is Madonna. Well, “attitude” idol, that is.

“I just love how she stands up for what she believes in and surprises people by not eff-ing up when they want her to so badly…Know what I love most about Madonna? When a bad review came out, she was the first person to say ‘f–k you.’ When someone said she sounded like Minnie Mouse, she crawled into bed naked except for Minnie Mouse ears. It’s such a good attitude to have. It’s inspiring to me because there are times when I think I’ve been a weak, people-pleasing little mouse my whole life.”

But Ariana’s working on being tougher with harsh critics. “That’s what I’m learning right now, that I have to become stronger in this industry. I’ve learned over the past year that you don’t have time to chase after ever person who doesn’t understand you. The people that know me know that I’m a nice girl. My fans know that I’m a nice girl. My friends know that I’m a nice girl. And ultimately, that’s all that matters.”