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Ariana Grande’s controversial rise to pop fame

Ariana Grande has been all over social media following the release of her fifth album "Thank U, Next" last Friday and her first-ever Grammy Award win for Best Pop Vocal Album for "Sweetener" on Sunday.

"Thank U, Next" is Grande’s second album to be released in less than six months and is already #1 on both Apple Music and Spotify’s top charts. Along with her album, she also released two music videos for singles on her album, “7 rings” and “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored.”

The album features twelve songs that allude to Grande’s personal life and everything that the young female artist has gone through over the course of her music career, including breaking off an engagement to recent fiancé Pete Davidson and mourning the loss of longtime friend and boyfriend of two years Mac Miller.

Whether it was having her relationships exploited on social media or coping with the trauma post-Manchester bombing, Grande has carried herself with strength and dignity through it all, refusing to stray from staying true to herself in the industry she finds herself in.

Grande’s fans have been patiently waiting to hear her album and the track “Needy” after she shared a portion of the song on her Instagram back in October. She captioned the teaser video, “tell me how good it feels to be needed.” Fans speculated the song implies that Grande is referencing the judgment she received on her public engagement with Davidson.

But the female pop sensation does not shy away from reinforcing the message of women's empowerment throughout her album. The song “NASA” references the famous quote of Neil Armstrong which states, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” However, she puts her own artistic flare on it by changing “man” to “woman” as well as “mankind” to “womankind.”

The inclusion of a song like “NASA” allows Grande’s fans to see the connection between the strong woman she portrays herself to be in relation to the difficult times she has gone through recently.

Cate Tassone, freshman at SU, isn’t into Grande’s sound, but believes in her message.

“I am not the biggest fan of Ariana Grande’s music,” Tassone said. “However, I support her because she I think she is a strong woman.”

Grande managed to capture her message behind an album as personal as "Thank U, Next" through a song title, “Fake Smile.” The song opens with a snippet of “After Laughter (Come Tears)” by the famous '60s singer Wendy Rene.

Grande states before the commencement of the chorus, “I can’t fake another smile / I can't fake like I’m alright.” Not only do the title and the lyrics express the genuine feelings that Grande is trying to cope with in the midst of furthering her career, but Grande has also bravely opened up about her experience and struggle with anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder after the bombing at her 2017 concert in Manchester.

The courage Grande displays never ceases to amaze her fans. Her efforts in trying to break the stigma that surrounds mental health to opening up about her past relationships, all while dealing with the backlash from the media, demonstrates the true warrior she is.

But not all hold Grande in the same light. Many view her album and recent fame as an exploitation of her breakup with Mac Miller and his subsequent passing, causing a sour taste in some fans' mouths.

Emily Lane, also a freshman at SU, doesn’t like all the media attention Grande has gotten over the past few years.

“My personal opinion on Ariana Grande is that I don’t care what goes on in the media about her, because it is unimportant to society as whole,” Lane said. “I feel as though all this entertainment and celebrity gossip is just a distraction from more pressing news that should be displayed in the media.”

Grande’s new music video “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored” has also struck a negative chord with the LGBTQ+ community and has been called “queerbaiting” by some fans. The music video has a plot twist ending when, instead of kissing the guy, Grande leans in to kiss the girl who closely resembles the pop star.

Queerbaiting is when same-sex romantic relationships are hinted at, but not actually depicted, and ultimately the romance is ignored, explicitly rejected, or made fun of. But many fans have come to Grande’s defense by saying the video represents “self-love” and not “queerbaiting” or bisexuality.

It is obvious that Grande has seen her fair share of controversy in recent years over social media, and "Thank U, Next" will not be the last of it.



Staff writer

Featured photos: US Magazine, Eonline and YouTube images.

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