In the wake of tragedy this popstar concentrated on the music and is back on the charts
Unlike other popstars, known for glitzy gimmicks and overt publicity stunts, Ariana Grande has always been about the music, since making her debut in 2008 in the Broadway musical 13. After years of playing Cat Valentine on the Nickelodeon hit-series Victorious, Grande rightfully stepped outside her underdog role in 2013 for the spinoff Sam & Cat and moreover with the release of her debut album Yours Truly, which debuted atop the charts along with Grande’s sophomore album My Everything.
However, two years ago during the tour for her third internationally chart-topping album, Dangerous Woman, everything came to a screeching halt for Ariana Grande when her Manchester Arena concert in Britain became the site of a terrorist attack when a Radical Islamist detonated a homemade bomb killing 23 including himself, and injuring 139, more than half children.
This would set a trend of trauma for the performer as last year she lost long-time boyfriend Mac Miller to an overdose merely months after their breakup, and a month later, her engagement with then-fiancé Pete Davidson came to an end. Turning tragedy into triumph, and not sticking to the typical album release pattern, Ariana Grande began to break a plethora of industry records with the release of two back-to-back chart-topping albums over the past year, 2018’s Sweetener and 2019’s Thank U Next, diving deep lyrically in both.
After taking home her first Grammy alongside breaking Spotify streaming records and becoming the only artist to have debuted the first single from each of her first four albums in the top ten of the Billboard Hot 100, Ariana Grande has embarked on her first tour since the Manchester Arena Bombing with the Sweetener World Tour. Receiving both love and loathing for administering strict security policies, including requiring anyone who does not arrive with their belongings in a clear plastic bag to check their bags before entrance, Ariana Grande makes the wait worth it in what is undoubtedly her best tour yet.
Over the past two years Ariana Grande has gone from being an artist who the public was generally aware of, to a bonafide household name. Making use of her high-profile status to advocate for gay rights (she cites her openly gay brother Frankie as her best friend) in conjunction with women’s rights, Grande opens up the tour with the feminist anthem “God Is A Woman” seemingly invoking The Last Supper in performance. This leads directly into “Bad Idea,” which is rumored to be about her tumultuous relationships with addicts ala the late Mac Miller and former fiancé Pete Davidson.
Grande strategically makes an effort to please her audience by having the setlist consist of a majority of hit singles, and when she isn’t singing a bop she is belting out a coveted fan favorite, such as when she performs the empowering “Be Alright,” which she regards as one of her favorite songs recorded thus far. Although three quarters of the songs included in the show are from her two most recent albums, Grande does pay homage to her early days during an unforgettable medley of “Right There” / “You’ll Never Know” / “Break Your Heart Right Back.”
“NASA,” a non-single off Grande’s latest effort about needing space from relationships which recently went platinum, is a standout performance vocally and visually, with a large replica of the moon emerging from the ceiling and aesthetically-pleasing stars lighting up the arena.
Grande saves the best for last as she makes her way into the final act of the stellar show where she performs her biggest hits. Making her way from “Dangerous Woman” to the new-age coming out anthem “Break Free,” in which the entire backdrop and stage are adorned in the pride flag colors, to her post-Manchester motivational anthem “No Tears Left To Cry,” Grande maintains her sultry vocals and high energy throughout all 24 tracks. During the latter, one can’t help but feel the emotion in Ariana Grande’s soaring vocals resonate within them.
This is a woman who has been directly affected by everything from terrorism to suicide to heartbreak consecutively, and yet continues to stand strong never once regarding herself as a victim.
For the encore, Ariana Grande performs the title track of her most recent album, “Thank U Next,” which broke the record for largest streaming week ever for a pop album in juxtaposition with breaking the record for the most simultaneous Top 40 songs by a female artist on the Billboard Hot 100. With today’s social media cultural push for perfection in mind, Grande closing out the Sweetener World Tour with a self-deprecating pop tune which intricately alludes to all of her failed relationships as a positive whilst promoting self-love, was ironically perfection in and of itself.
In conclusion, Ariana Grande is at her most interactive as well as her most vulnerable yet on the Sweetener World Tour. Given the profusion of unfortunate circumstances she has endured in her personal life as of late, Grande bares it all to her fans all while proving success is the best revenge. An A+ rating all across the board.