To be completely honest, pop singer Ariana Grande was not on my radar until the fall of 2018. It seems like she has become an overnight success even though she has been entertaining for nearly a decade. Her two recent albums, “Sweetener” and “Thank U, Next,” have catapulted her to megastar status both in real life and online. As of the writing of this article, she was recently been named the most followed person on Instagram unseating former title holder, Selena Gomez.
Last week, it was announced that three of Grande’s songs from her most recent album, “Thank U, Next,” claimed the top spots on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, a feat only ever achieved by the Pop Rock legends The Beatles. Given this amazing accomplishment, many are questioning how Grande was able to achieve this, especially since a lot of critics find her music to not be anything special.
According to a critic from NBC News, Grande was able to capture the top three spots on the Billboard Hot 100 because of the accounting system used to place songs on the chart. Today, the most popular songs are tracked by physical record sales, streaming, digital downloads and Youtube views whereas in the 1960s, when the Beatles achieved the same feat, Billboard only relied on physical record sales. Although Grande did have an advantage in having multiple music platforms counted in the ranking, the fact that she was able to capture the attention of so many in a content-saturated market is an astounding feat. Today, we have so many listening options at our fingertips. Why are people gravitating towards Ariana Grande in particular? Throughout 2018, she was a fixture in the media. From the tragic death of her ex-boyfriend rapper Mac Miller to her whirlwind romance –– and then break-up –– with SNL cast member, Pete Davidson. All the while, she was constantly posting on social media and making herself and her creative process accessible to millions. Although people were constantly writing about her in the media, she was still able to control her persona by being a constant presence on social media.
Social media presence seems to be in the job description for celebrities these days. In order to stay relevant, a star must be constantly posting so that their fans can get glimpses of their seemingly glamorous life. Social media also gives stars insight into what fans and the public are talking about. Clearly, Grande has used this to her advantage. For instance, in her video for “Thank U, Next,” Grande styled her video to the iconic early 2000s movie Mean Girls and featured major celebrities such as Kris Jenner. Both Mean Girls and Jenner are staples in 2010’s meme and internet culture. Clearly, if those elements are present in her videos, people will be interested in watching the videos on Youtube –– which is counted for in the Billboard Hot 100.
None of this is to discount the talent Grande clearly has. While I personally don’t think Grande’s songs are groundbreaking, I will admit that they are quite catchy and her vocalizing is rather impressive. She has definitely cemented herself as a vocalizer akin to legends like Mariah Carey and Celine Dion. Nevertheless, it is rather impressive that she has and continues to capture the attention of people in an age where attention spans are shorter than ever. The ability to make an “Ari-mania” in this day and age is impressive, to say the least. I wonder if any other stars will break the record in the near future.