I have something to say but I’m afraid to say it: I listened to Ariana Grande’s album Sweetener this weekend. It’s the first time I’ve ever listened to an AG album all the way through. It was… OK. I didn’t hate it. I didn’t love it. The best song, to me, is “no tears left to cry”, which we’ve been listening to for months anyway. But. BUT. While I’m not that into the music, I am now, as I’ve been posting about lately, very much into her. And watching her at the VMAs only added to that.
You know what we’ve seen happen over the years? At award shows, it’s often the performed in-seat behaviour that becomes the conversation about the celebrity the next day. This is why we all live for cutaways. Think about how cutaways have changed or added to your opinions of Beyoncé, Rihanna, Kanye West, Adele, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, and Justin Timberlake. In the past, Ariana’s in-seat performances have been… not my favourite. Her brother’s in-seat performances are still too highly concentrated in I Can’t. But last night? Ariana did not give away any points. Last night she kept it tight. Last night there were no side-eyes, no eye-rolls, no feud-starters, there was no Timberlake attention-seeking, there was no fake delight, if anything there was only Pete. If there was any performance of in-seat behaviour it was love, contentment, engagement. And even that wasn’t over the top.
Part of it is that she seems to be more and more comfortable and confident with where she is. Part of that is experience and growing from it. Learning from it. Becoming smarter with it. This is the girl who got caught on camera licking donuts and fat-shaming. It was a mistake. She is showing how you can move on from it and organically change the way you are perceived without it feeling like she’s putting on and discarding personalities for convenience. I didn’t expect this, but I appreciate it.
I also appreciate the no ponytail. So much better when she wears her hair down like this. If only we could get her to get over those over-the-knee boots. Will she ever give them up?