Ariana Grande’s much-anticipated album Sweetener is out today, and it comes on the heels of a moving tribute to Aretha Franklin on last night’s The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon.
Franklin was a hero to Grande, and the singer said on the show, “I met her a few times,” Grande said. “We sang at the White House and she was so sweet, she was so cute and I was like, ‘How are you a real person?’ It’s an honor to have met her.” The singer’s performance of “Natural Woman” earned Grande a standing ovation, and it brought her to tears.
Sweetener is Grande’s fourth studio album, and cameos by Nicki Minaj, Pharrell and Missy Elliot as well as *that* song about Pete Davidson have made the album much-hyped. “It’s called Sweetener because it’s kind of about bringing light to a situation or someone’s life, or somebody else who brings light to your life, or sweetening the situation,” she told Jimmy Fallon.
The 15-song album ranges from pre-newlywed bliss with “pete davidson” to the fizzy, upbeat “sweetener” to honest emotions and anxiety with “get well soon” and “breathin’”. The album’s first track with a guest rap by Nicki Minaj is a trappy, super-dancey song.
In her FADER interview, Grande said of the album, “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.”
The album is her first album arriving over a year after the tragic attack at her Manchester concert that killed 22 people. With Sweetener, Ariana Grande does what she does best: be impeccably sweet and dynamically strong. Listen to the album below, it’ll be the soundtrack to the rest of your summer.