Ariana Grande Billboard’s Woman of the Year: “I don’t want to conform to the pop star agenda”

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Ariana Grande, who will accept the Woman of the Year honor at tomorrow night’s Billboard Women in Music 2018 Dinner and Awards, talks to Natalie Weiner for this week’s cover story about being fearless (“I don’t give a sh*t”), why she loves her new smash single “Thank U, Next” “more than any other song I’ve ever put out,” and how surviving tragedy has made her more determined than ever to release her own music on her own terms (“I don’t want to do what people tell me to do”):

  • On the success of “Thank U, Next”: “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.”
  • On finding comfort in creating music: “I guess there’s not much I’m afraid of anymore. … When life tries you with such serious sh*t so many times, your priorities change. I don’t give a sh*t. I just want to be happy and healthy — one day — and make music.”
  • On gender disparity in the music industry: “I would just love to see a chart with as many women on top as men. 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.”
  • On releasing music on her terms: “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 sh*t. It’s just like, ‘Bruh, I just want to f**king 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.”
  • On refusing to abide by pop-star expectations and continuing to record new music: “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.”
  • On getting involved in public romances: “This is how I meet people — I can’t just, like, meet someone at a bar. I live fast and full-out, and I make mistakes, and I learn from them and I’m grateful no matter what happens.”

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