Ariana Grande dropped a new song and music video yesterday called "Monopoly", with best ring buddy, Victoria Monét. Actually dropping a song on April Fools' is some Big Dick Energy, because I don’t know about you, but I was on guard all day yesterday. My mom could say, “I love you!” on April 1st and I would be like, WHERE’S THE JOKE?
"Monopoly" is definitely a bop, though it took me a few listens to get into it. The song is about Ariana and Victoria swatting away negativity à la Donté Colley (who’s in the video) while focusing on collecting (read: succeeding) their goals like property in Monopoly. The video is even edited like Donté’s viral videos, channeling his “Motivational Dancing Guy” swagger. Although I was lukewarm initially, “Monopoly” is one of those songs that gets better each time you hear it as new meaning and levels to the song are revealed.
The big news from “Monopoly” is this line from the chorus where Ariana sings:
“I like women and men”
Thank the gay gods for a prosperous and fruitful 20BiTeen. And it’s only April! We are #blessed. Although it doesn’t get any clearer than that, before I get too excited about this, there are a few things we need to consider. First, Victoria Monét came out as bisexual last November, meaning that this lyric could have been written by her, and Ari is being an ally by not changing it. It could also simply be Ari being inclusive for her fans, many of whom are LGBTQ. She could also just like men and women, and it’s not a big deal. (#TBT when she said that she was in love with a girl in “thank u, next” and we all freaked for the millisecond gap before she says it’s herself.)
There are other subtler clues that allude to bisexuality as a theme in the video/song. In the first verse, Victoria sings, “I swerve both ways, dichotomy.” Furthermore, in the video, there is strong bisexual lighting (explanation here) when Ari and Vic are with Donté.
What does Ari think of all of this?
“She said what she said” is probably the best way to put it. I want this to be Ari’s coming out video, but she’s made it clear that it’s not about labels right now – which is really cool.
I love the video’s aesthetic since I’m a sucker for nostalgia, especially for things that I can actually remember. The style is similar to Beyoncé’s “7/11” video in that although it’s clearly a high production shoot with famous stars, there’s a careful and deliberate effort to present an image of relatability and realness using low quality lenses, weird framing, and an older video camera. In “7/11”, this gives us the impression that Beyoncé is just playin’ around with her friends and being goofy & silly – a side of the queen we don’t see too often. In Ari’s video, Ari and Victoria are hanging out and dancing on a roof, chilling by the pool and posing. The parts that aren’t taken on a 90s video cam are still intimate, with Ari, Vic, and Donté wearing matching “7 Rings” onesies. It feels more like we’re watching a Snapchat story rather than a music video and that’s the point.
With such a playful video, I don’t think the message here is “I’m rich and successful” that’s associated with the board game. Instead, this reads more like a reference to Ari’s story on Zach Sang’s “thank u, next” interview, where Ari describes how a friend said, “Whatever, I’m gonna go hang with my real friends” and then just bounced after losing the game. (Side note: I’m not saying that he’s justified, but Monopoly is a dangerous game that tears friendships apart.) That segment in the interview, which you can watch here (start at 31:45) is all about how Ariana is incredibly appreciative of her friends, including Victoria who’s in the room. That’s the real message of “Monopoly”: that Ariana is cherishing her close friendships in a time when relationships have failed her.
I think Ari is on a pretty significant relationship break, but this revelation opens a whole new door of possibilities. Who would pair well with Ari? What about Cara Delevingne? Both Ari and Cara take their work seriously, but they can also have a fun too. Or, because Ari clearly likes rappers, how about Brooke Candy, the pansexual rapper who’s worked with Grimes, Lizzo, and Charlie XCX? It’ll probably be a while before Ari enters the dating game, but if there’s one takeaway from Monopoly its this: “I'm so thankful working with my best friend, she the chico.” Who needs boys (or girls) when you have your best friend?
Attached - Ariana performing in New York on opening night of the Sweetener tour.