Okay, so this isn’t officially called Ariana’s concert series, but after being concert-less for so long, that’s how I’m treating them. Ariana Grande’s series of official live performances with Vevo have been a treat. Even though other singers have done official live performances before, including Ari herself, with BTS being the most successful, this series is well-timed as we wait for concerts to start again. Olivia Rodrigo has recently done some Vevo live performances, but Ariana’s current project has a strong live music event vibe that is very effective for the times we are in. While we wait for live music events to return regularly, I find that these performances by her have reminded me of how special a concert experience can be. Although we’re not standing in an arena with her, the production, vocals, and the vibe gets us as close as possible.
As of today, Ariana has released four videos in the series posted on YouTube: “pov” was the first one, followed by “safety net” featuring Ty Dolla $ign. Then we were gifted with “my hair” before yesterday’s “34+35”. The nice thing about this series is the continuity throughout all of the performances. The set is a huge stage with flowers, grass, and other pretty garden things. What ties the set together is the halo of light over her head, because it subtly guides your eye into the setting, resulting in a dimensional depth. The hollowness created by the oval, paired with long camera movements, pulls us in and makes it more immersive. It creates an optical illusion of a wide, open space on our phone screens, as if to mimic big concert venues. The lighting also creates that dim and foggy aura that spills off the stage and covers the audience like it did back in pre-COVID days. Oh, the memories.
Another great call was changing outfit, just like she would in a live concert. In “pov” and “safety net”, she delivered with a black crop top and leather pants, and accented the look with magenta gloves that matched the set design’s lights. She wore knee-high boots, which are a staple for her, to go with her second look in a shiny two-piece for “my hair” and “34+35”. Through it all, the classic high ponytail swings behind her.
But while the production creates the concert atmosphere, it’s her voice that sells it. Everyone knows her voice is insane. But those extra live touches, the a capella, the whistle notes (HOW does she pull off more than she already does on the studio version???), and the trumpet solo in “my hair” get you as close as you can virtually. There’s also that echo effect in the mic at some points, which puts Ariana right into your living room, and differentiate these videos from her music videos. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy over-the-top dance numbers with mind blowing production once in a while, but listening to her singing on a stool in the middle of a dreamy garden feels close to the heart, a way to connect after over a year of concerts being on pause. That’s why this project was a good call. It’s a reminder of why live events are so special, I want to be there A.S.A.P.
And while she’s convincing all of us to buy her concert tickets the second they’re on sale, it’s also getting her ready for them too. Performers (with the exception of BTS because they’ve been going non-stop) have been in quarantine just like us, so they may be feeling a little rusty (although, I don’t think Ariana had to do much to get comfy again). But even though concerts are opening up in some places, COVID-19 still isn’t completely gone. Cases are surging again in America and other parts of the world. So we’re not quite there, especially not with the top tier popstars, it may still be a while yet. Which is why she is investing in these performances as a bridge-gap until we can all pack into the stadiums and do this properly.