#TransformationTuesday: Ariana Grande

Hi. It’s Tuesday and we’re still talking about Ariana Grande.

Yesterday, we recapped some of the our favorite moments from the One Manchester concert, which Ariana helped put together to benefit the victims of last month’s attack. It was beautiful, full of tears, and best of all, raised over $3 million. Since the deadly event, Ariana has been praised for her compassionate eloquence in response to a heartless tragedy (unlike certain world leaders).

We will never be able to understand why events like this take place because it is not in our nature, which is why we shouldn’t recoil. We will not quit or operate in fear. We won’t let this divide us. We won’t let hate win. {x}

For many of those who just thought of Ariana as another female pop star, their minds changed after she released that statement (per the posts I saw on Twitter, at least). And when she took the stage on Sunday, it was evident that the attack had a profound effect on her, and she wanted to do anything she could to try to lift spirits and help the victims and their families in any way she could. That’s the day Ariana Grande wasn’t just an international pop star anymore. I’m not saying she wasn’t before, but to a lot of people who weren’t paying attention, she became a respected celebrity idol that day.

For the uninitiated, Ariana, 23, has been in the game since she was a teen, and has gone through many career changes to get to where she is today. So on this Transformation Tuesday, let’s take a look back at all the major points in Ari’s life that have led her to become the (Dangerous) Woman that she is today.

2001: Rite of Passage

You know how when you go to a kid’s dance recital or see a community theater show and there’s one, maybe two kids who are actually really good or have the potential to be? That was Ariana. Growing up in Florida, her main connection to the arts was the theater, performing in shows like Beauty and the Beast, The Wizard of Oz, and of course, Annie.

2007: Slaying Judy Garland

When you’re an aspiring pop star, you obvs have to make the rounds at random events, like singing the National Anthem at a sports game, or singing at a birthday party for a 95 year old. Can’t turn down a gig.

2008: The (Great White) Way

When she was 15, Ariana was cast in 13, a musical by the genius that is Jason Robert Brown. She was in a supporting role as a cheerleader called Charlotte, and it even earned her a National Youth Theatre Association Award. Being cast in any Broadway show is maj, but to be a part of the Original Broadway Cast is an honor. I mean she’s on the OBC cast album! What does it say about me that I think this is one of the more impressive feats in her career?!

2009: The Nickelodeon Machine

The following year, Ari was cast as Cat Valentine in Victorious, a Nickelodeon sitcom starring Victoria Justice and set in a performing arts high school. Now, I’m not above telling you that I watched a lot of Disney Channel shows way past the age I should’ve been (#BestofBothWorlds), but I never got on this Nickelodeon train. It’s a total blind spot for me. But what I can say is that Ariana made the right decision in going through the Nickelodeon machine, which is v similar to the Disney machine (see: Miley Cyrus, Jonas Brothers, Selena Gomez, Demi Lovato, etc.). Ari gained a fan following by playing a slightly ditzy yet lovable character, who would help her get her first starring role. More on that later.

2011: YouTube Star

Keeping music in the foreground, Ariana continued to connect with her fans by posting covers on YouTube. And just like the teens who posted their covers online all over the world, Ariana did the same, asking her fans to “tweet her”. Also, I remember watching that Emotions cover and thinking, “WHO DA FUQ IS THIS CHICK??!” Get into those whistle tones!!

2011: The First Single

Ariana released her first single, Put Your Hearts Up, in 2011. It’s a sweet bubblegum pop track that was fit for her Nickelodeon persona (and still features her signature Cat Valentine red hair). But as you can tell, this is definitely not the same music she’s singing today.

June, 2013: On To The Next One

In 2012, Victorious was not renewed for a fourth season, but Ariana still had a job because it was announced that she would star in a spin-off called Sam & Cat, which starred iCarly’s Jennette McCurdy (Sam). This is obviously next level stardom, but the show only lasted one season over the course of one year, and there was a lot A LOT of drama towards the end. It involved salaries, reported feuds, and the rise of Ariana’s music career, so Nickelodeon just cut the cord and the last Sam & Cat ep aired in 2014.

August, 2013: The Breakthrough

As mentioned, Ariana had still be working hard on her music career, and worked on her first real album over the course of three years. It was finally released in September, 2013, and debuted at number one on the Billboard 200, making her the first female artist since Kesha to have her album debut at the top of the charts. The lead single, The Way (ft. now boyfriend Mac Miller), was a jam for the summer of 2013. For me too. Remember when I told y’all to add her to your playlist?!

2013: Just Beliebe

It was all happening for her in the fall of 2013 and at that point there was no stopping her flow. Ariana, who shares manager Scooter Braun with Justin Bieber, joined him for a few dates on his massive Believe Tour, and she also embarked on her own headlining mini-tour, called The Listening Sessions.  But it was the American Music Awards where she blew the crowd away with a stripped down performance of Tattooed Heart, and she won her first major award for Best New Artist.

August, 2014: My Everything

Ariana released her second studio album, My Everything, that August, led by the mega hit Problem. The song became one of the best-selling singles of all time with 10 million sales, and the video itself has been viewed over a billion times. Her second single, Break Free ft. Zedd was yet another charttopper, and just because she’s that talented, the song she featured on, Bang Bang with Jessie J and Nicki Minaj was also a hit. All three songs hit the Billboard Hot 100’s top 10 in the same week, making her the only female artist besides Adele to have three top 10 hits simultaneously as a lead artist. Get it girl. My Everything also included jams like One Last Time, Love Me Harder ft. The Weeknd and Best Mistake, ft. ex-bf Big Sean.

2015: World Domination Continues

Ariana embarked on The Honeymoon Tour in support of the album, which was nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album at the Grammys that year (her other nom came in the form of Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for Bang Bang). She also returned to acting with a guest-starring role in Scream Queens, and gave fans a little holiday treat by releasing an EP called Christmas & Chill (which is V GOOD). Oh, also she did the Wheel of Impressions game on Jimmy Fallon and I’ve watched it like 5 times since.

January, 2016: Returning to Her Roots

Hey remember when I said I was the most impressed when I found out Ariana was in a musical by Jason Robert Brown? It’s because I think he’s a genius who created one of my favorite musicals of all time, The Last Five Years. And I’m the type of nerd who would go to one of his cabaret shows, but when he played in LA, I decided to be “smart” and save my money. Turns out I’m a dumb-dumb, because that night Ariana was a surprise guest and she sung a song from 13. I love this so much because it shows that she hasn’t forgotten where she came from, and is willing to sing at a random small venue in LA for her friend. In fact, she asked JRB to write a song for her that ended up being a bonus track on her Dangerous Woman album, called Jason’s Song (Gave It Away). She even performed it on Jimmy Fallon – and asked JRB to play piano. Read all about it on his blog.

March, 2016: Live From New York, It’s Saturday Night!

To promote her new Dangerous Woman album, Ariana was the host and musical guest on Saturday Night Live. It was hands down, one of my favorite SNL episodes ever – she killed in each sketch (and all of them were actually funny – Jennifer Lawrence you guys!) and her musical performances  were perfect (I think about the Be Alright performance a lot).

December, 2016: A Checkerboard Chick

Ari got to live out a lifelong dream of playing Penny Pingleton in the annual NBC live musical, Hairspray, and was one of the standouts from the entire show. And again, my love for Ariana runs deep yet again, because she confessed her love for OBC member Kerry Butler, proving yet again, she’s a theater nerd just like us.

2017: Full Circle

Ariana has been on her Dangerous Woman World Tour since February, and that leads us to Manchester, where she brought the show on May 22nd. Here she is at the One Manchester show singing Over the Rainbow once again, filling us with emotion to see just what a Dangerous Wonder Woman she’s become.

Highs and Lows: Hairspray Live!

It’s December, which means NBC is putting up its annual holiday recital, in the form of a live musical! In years past, we’ve seen The Sound of Music, Peter Pan, and The Wiz, and now we’re #blessed with a show that has given us the gift of both Harvey Fierstein and John Travolta in women’s clothing – Hairspray. I personally love this show because it’s everything a traditional musical should be – big song and dance numbers, a lead character to root for, unexpected love interests, racial tension, and just good old time that will leave you feeling happy and full of glee. Hence, it is the perfect show for NBC’s live musical library. So did this live TV iteration live up to its previous stage and screen successors? Overall, it’s a yes for me, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have a few highs and lows while watching it. Did you feel the same?

Low: Good Morning, Baltimore

I’m not particularly proud of starting with a low, but that’s how the show started for me. Good Morning, Baltimore is Tracy Turnblad’s big intro song, and it felt… flat? I was getting vibes that Maddie Baillio was holding back a little and just wanted her to belt out with more enthusiasm. Generally speaking, I thought Maddie was fine, but honestly, I think Nikki Blonsky made a better Tracy.

High: The Intro of The Corny Collins Show

It wasn’t until the reveal of The Corny Collins Show that I felt I was truly watching Hairspray, and what a reveal it was. Tracy’s bedroom walls split in half and Derek Hough appears as Corny Collins on the set of his show in all its pink and turquoise accents. A 1960s dream. All the Nicest Kids in Town were great, including Brenda, who says one of my favorite lines in the musical: “Brenda will be taking a leave of absence from the show. How long are you gonna be gone, Brenda?” “Just nine months!”

High: Ariana Grande

Both her ponytail and EVERYTHING ABOUT HER. I don’t care, y’all. Not afraid to say I love Ariana Grande. Besides My Everything and Dangerous Woman and her SNL impressions and the fact she’s a theater geek just like us, it’s easy to forget (for older folks at least) that she has excellent comedic timing. Every single line she said I lit’rally laughed out loud. From the first moment she popped her gum and said a line about perspiration, to talking to TV trying to say hi to Tracy, to being completely enamored by Seaweed, Ari proved she’s as good an actress as she is a vocal powerhouse.

High: Harvey Fierstein

 

At this point, Edna Turnblad is part of Harvey’s bloodstream. He originated the role on Broadway in 2002, and even won a Tony Award for it, so yeah, he’s done this before. And he’s done it well. Good lord he has done it well.

Low: Darren Criss as a Backstage Host

Pero like, why? And there was something called the “Social Squad” that he stood next to? I like you a lot, Darren, but I don’t need you chasing down Ariana Grande in a cart and calling her a “dangerous woman” with a wink to the camera. SHHHHH.

LowHigh: Dove Cameron

I had a vague sense of who Dove Cameron was prior to this (Disney kid, played Kristin Chenoweth’s daughter in The Descendants, recently broke off her engagement), but had never heard her sing before. I was delightfully surprised by her voice. However some of the big belting notes were beyond her reach, and acting wise, I felt at some points she was merely doing an impression of KChen and not acting as herself. However, I think overall she did a great job and made a good impression on all those who are seeing her perform for the first time.

High: Miss Baltimore Crabs

If you put Kristin Chenoweth in anything we will watch it. And we will praise her. Because she is worthy queen. She nailed Miss Baltimore Crabs, and I am dead from not only this dress with the crabs brooch but also by the crab hands she puts up at the end. KChen is a national treasure.

High: Ladies Choice

Ladies’ Choice is one of two new songs that was added to the 2007 movie musical, and smokeshow Zac Efron did a great job with it, albeit it was a shorter scene. This time Corny/Derek Hough takes on the track, and while he is no Zefron, it was still enjoyable. What made it even more enjoyable is that it was the setting for a good old-fashioned dance number, which I am a sucker for. What’s a musical without a bunch of chaînés turns, amirite?

HighLows: Ad Integration

My initial reaction to seeing such a blatant ReddiWhip ad in Hairspray was one of disgust. A fake dancer walking through the Hairspray set moments after a ReddiWhip truck was in clear view on the Baltimore street? No thanks. Then Corny sang praises of the all-American snack, the Oreo, and later Toyota made its way into the broadcast, and I realized it was all actually very brilliant. The set up of The Corny Collins Show, along with its own fake product integration of Ultra Cluth Hairspray, is fertile ground of real product integration. It would’ve been more weird if Oreo tried to make its way into Grease Live, but in this TV musical, it’s a perfect fit.

High: The Costumes

Corny’s jackets! Previously mentioned crab brooch! Edna’s sequined red dress! Penny’s green number with sky high white boots! JHud’s sparkly gold pantsuit! All of it was great and fabulous!

Low: Garrett Clayton

Ok, “Low” seems a little too harsh for this, but here we are. Since Hairspray opened on Broadway in 2002, many a handsome and talented men have stepped into Link Larkin’s shoes. Starting with Matthew Morrison in the OBC, other notable replacements include our boyfriend Aaron Tveit, Andrew Rannells, Ashley Parker Angel, Nick Jonas and of course, Zefron. Needless to say, it’s a dreamboat role to take on. However, I was not on board with Garrett. Here are my thoughts while watching him:

A) Who? Who is this? A Disney kid?

B) He’s not quite hitting all the notes.

C) Is the problem that I am too old to find him attractive? Probably.

HighLow: Three generations of Tracys

To have the OG movie Tracy and the OBC musical Tracy make cameos is great. I love a good cameo. Rosie! Sean Hayes! Billy Eichner! But to me, the Ricki Lake and Marissa Jarret Winokur appearances seemed a little forced. They showed up and sandwiched Maddie then stared straight down the barrel for about 2 seconds too long. It felt like that 4th wall breaking when the Tanners mention Michelle on Fuller House.

High: Motormouth Records

Everything about these scenes. I want to live there and dance to vinyl and eat chicken and waffles and be serenaded by Hamilton’s own Ephraim Sykes (Seaweed) and be outdanced and outsang by Shahadi W. Joseph (Little Inez).

Lows: The Lighting and Camera Blocking

There were moments when some of the actors weren’t lit properly or the blocking made it so you couldn’t see the main characters faces, and it was annoying. Yes, yes, it’s live TV, but that’s what dres rehearsals are for. Shouts to all the crew tho – I know it takes a lot A LOT of work do pull this off. But I mean, still.

High: Adorable Couple Is Adorable

Martin Short was such a perfect fit for Wilbur Turnblad that I had to look it up to confirm he’s never played the part before. He is joined by onscreen wife Harvey in Timeless to Me, song that’s so tender and warm-and-fuzzy that it doesn’t really matter who sings it  – it’l always be timeless.

High: Jennifer Hudson

We went to the Chruch of Jennifer Hudson last night, and were practically ready to offer up all the money we had after watching her sing I Know Where I’ve Been. It was the most soulful version I’ve witnessed and a reminder that racial inequality in the ’60s isn’t something that’s frozen in time. “White day is every day. You gotta be more specific.”

High: Curtain Call

The other new song added to the 2007 movie was Come So Far (Got So Far to Go), which only played in the end credits. I always loved that song, so I’m glad that it was performed live by two divas in JHud and Ariana at the end, and the curtain call was the right thing to go along with it. I admit I teared up a bit during the curtain call, because the cast is filled with pure joy, elation and relief that the show went off without a hitch, and I’m just so proud of people who put in hard work. Well done everyone!

Stray Observations
  • I could watch Andrea Martin (Penny’s mom) in anything and still adore her.
  • For some reason, the message of racism didn’t seem to be as powerful or come across as a major plot point as it is in the musical or the 2007 movie
  • Hairspray has built-in cheers from the audience at The Corny Collins Show, and I noticed NBC got the hint that not having people clap after a huge number is weird. Thank GOD they brought some people in to fill in weird voids
  •  Overall, Hairspray is probably the best live musical they’ve done since starting a few years ago, but I think Grease Live still takes the cake for me. I mean I’ve watched that at least five times. Willingly!

Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show 2014: Things That Made Me Say WTF

It’s hard to believe that it’s been a whole year since I was made, let’s be honest, entirely perplexed and 100% jealous by the 2013 Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show. But here we are again, with another night of impossibly attractive people, whimsical angel wings, bizarre segment concepts, and Taylor Swift. If the VS folks just aired the same show every year, how long do you think it would even take us to notice? Still, I managed to find a whole new set of things to make me say WTF this year.

Segment 1 : Screensavers

I don’t know, I think the theme is fancy screensavers. Or seizures. They’re just projecting flashy patterns on an LCD scrim.

As of three minutes in, I can’t be sure how many ladies have walked because they all look identical. Is this some sort of VS Fashion Show/ Orphan Black crossover? Because that, I would watch.

There’s one with brown hair, and they make her wear wings that are actually enormous puffed sleeves, like she’s the Anne Shirley of this joint.

All of these ladies have serious Leonardo DiCaprio’s Girlfriend hair.

Behind The Scenes #1

Models look pretty on airplanes. That’s the Truth I Didn’t Want To Face of the day.

Models on a plane.

Me on a plane.

Segment 2: Dreamgirls with Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift is performing in a nightgown from an Anne Rice story. It’s Blank Space, that song about lonely Starbucks lovers.
A model walks down the runway wearing wings made of trees from the Lorax. Or models of amoebas.
T.Swizzle serenades each one of the Walking Girls, like the emcee of this children’s beauty pageant in a documentary I once saw. And like the pageant children, the walking girls pretend to like it.

Karlie gets what appears to be rattan fly wings instead of angel wings. They make the girls who don’t get wings wear filmy capes. Do NOT piss off the guy who hands out the wings.

Behind the Scenes #2

I missed a minute and came in for a lady (some sort of layman?) calling the models “curvy and voluptuous”. Those words are as cringe-y as “moist” and “nosh.”

We learn about the “fantasy bra,” which is basically like if Rose Dewitt Bukater had a bra.

Segment 3: Exotic Traveler featuring Ed Sheeran

Sheeran isn’t singing that one song about the cold prostitute. But he is dressed like Ron Weasley at a Christmas Ball.

“Exotic traveler” means they’re dressed like porny Madame Alexander dolls. We have a gal in a Native American headdress, a chilly bullfighter, then a lot of neon shit that’s supposed to be … Brazil maybe?

One broad (Kelly Gale?) has a plastic printed skirt that looks like she’s representing whatever part of the world Delia*s (RIP) is from.

Does Ed Sheeran have a tattoo of sunglasses on his forearm?

I think one model (Daniela Braga) is representing Fraggle Rock.

Behind the Scenes #3

A model (Candice? Behati?) compares reaching the end of the runway to scoring a touchdown. Fitting, because I compare watching the VS Fashion Show to the Superbowl. You’re watching genetically gifted people do what they’re made for, but you still sit back and armchair quarterback it anyway.

Ariana Grande wants to “spank a booty;” I continue to not get it about booties.

I missed about a minute of commercial time when I could have been brushing my teeth and letting my dog out, because I didn’t realize that this hour-long commercial had gone to commercial.

Segment 4: University Of Pink featuring Ariana Grande

“Bigger fan to de-arm this… and if your rhythm is needy ga ha harm me holla holla holla baby”: What I hear in Ariana Grande’s lyrics. Girl, ENUNCIATE.

Putting her next to 6-foot models really highlights that Ariana Grande is awfully Ariana Pequeña.

Ariana Grande is wearing a Lisa Frank skirt.

My B.A. isn’t from the University of Pink, but at my college there were a lot more hoodies and uggs.

Oh. There are backup dancers dressed like an early 2000s Missy Elliot. Which works, because everything Grande sings sounds like the lyrics that came after “put that thing down, flip it and reverse it.”

Behind The Scenes #4

Doutzen tells us that it takes a year to make the wings. Damn. Monica Something, the layman who was talking before, talks up the wings as well.

Segment 5: Fairy Tale featuring Hozier

I love Hozier but this is a weird combo, right? The setup is very Hansel and Gretel, Black Forest-y. Hozier is just kind of there, singing soulfully, and the models walk past him without making eye contact like he’s a busker and their train is coming.

Monica Whatever was right, though. These wings are gorgeous.

Behind The Scenes # 5

Russell James is an Australian photographer who is “like a monkey on the set” and “likes to push us a little bit,” but in a pranky George Clooney way, not in a skummy Terry Richardson way.

He has photographed an entire book of the angels – titled Angels – which would make the perfect Christmas gift for the lady in your life who really needs her self-esteem knocked down a peg or two.

Behind The Scenes #6

Karlie Kloss discusses her love of ballet, because in case you forgot, she’s lovelier than you. She dances (beautifully, of course) with a guy in a Puffy Shirt.

Segment 6: Taylor Swift, Redux

Swiftie is sort of like the Mama (Chicago) or Mama Rose (Gypsy) of this segment.

There are like 10 times more models than I saw during the entire show so far.

Too many models. I’m gonna go do squats and crunches for the next forever, bye.

Doutzen Kroes looks like Denise Richards, if Denise Richards were about to cry.

Do the do full face transplants if you aren’t’ technically disfigured? Asking for a friend.

Finale

It honestly looks like this is the most fun these models have all year, since this sort of goofiness isn’t allowed on any other runway, ever.

There are so many balloons, it’s like the telethon episode of Full House.

Playlist of the Month: Summer Jams

Well folks, we’re well into the summer season now, and the sun is showing itself a little more often than it was a couple months ago. School’s out (which I’m assuming doesn’t effect most of our readers, but you can still feel the freedom in the air), the dresses and sandals come out from the closet, and eating ice cream and fro-yo everyday is more acceptable than in the winter months.

So to celebrate the season, here are our favorite jams for this summer. No ‘Call Me Maybe’, but a few good picks for 2013.

Enjoy the entire playlist on Spotify!

Traci’s Picks

We Can’t Stop – Miley Cyrus

I have no shame in saying I love Miley. She doesn’t give a fuck, and that’s why I appreciate her. Do I think the music video for this song is appropriate for her younger fans? Not really. But do I think she did it because she can and she looks good while twerkin’? Yes. It’s her party she can do what she wants.

Blurred Lines – Robin Thicke ft T.I. and Pharrell

This song should come with no explanation. Sex.

Disclosure – Latch

I first heard this song on a recent episode of So You Think You Can Dance, and ever since I found out what the song was, I haven’t stopped listening to it. Like it will end and I will immediately play it again. Plus nothing says summer like SYTYCD.

The Way – Ariana Grande ft. Mac Miller

Don’t know who Ariana Grande is? She’s a Nickelodeon starlet who’s 19, but has a lot of tween fans. Sound familiar? She’s still in her innocent phase, but boy does she have a great range.

Cruise – Florida Georgia Line ft. Nelly

Need a song to play while you’re driving through the country? Here’s your jam.

Miss Movin On – Fifth Harmony

I’ve mentioned Fifth Harmony here before, and again, no shame in liking them. They’ve come such a long way since they were thrown together on The X Factor, and this is the perfect first single for the girls to release as a hopeful summer hit (and their acoustic version is balls to the wall amazing). I have big hopes for these gals!

Molly’s picks

Q.U.E.E.N. – Janelle Monae feat. Erykah Badu

As soon as I heard that Janelle Monae and Erykah Badu were collaborating I was like “okay, then, that’s my new favorite song.” Like, before I even heard it, because how could you go wrong? And let me tell you, I was not disappointed. I will say, though, that this one’s a grower. The first time I heard it I was like yeah, it’s pretty good. Then by listen 4 or so I was all, this jam is my JAM.

Get Lucky – Daft Punk feat. Pharrell

First of all, who would have thought this would be the summer of Pharrell’s comeback as a featured artist? Second, I have plenty of fond memories of dancing to One More Time, and there’s always room for more Daft Punk. Third, it’s only the first day of summer, but I can already tell you that no Summer 2013 playlist would be complete without Get Lucky and Blurred Lines.

Gun – Chvrches

Once you get over the thing of like, “wait, I just pronounce it “churches, right?” this is pretty great.

Diane Young – Vampire Weekend

Ezra. EZRA. Nice work. Love the old-school rock vibe they have going on here. I feel like I’m going to get a malt and watch a drag race. My knowledge of the 50s is mostly based on Grease.

Cocoa Butter Kisses – Chance The Rapper

First time I heard Chance the Rapper, I was like what the hell is this Adam Sandler-impression-sounding guy even doing? But I’ve come around, and Acid Rap is def one of THE mixtapes of the summer.

If you want to add a chill jam to the list, I suggest Wakin On A Pretty Day by Kurt Vile. If your summer needs more Kanye, well, primarily I recommend listening to 2005-era Ye because that’s the BEST. But I’m seriously feeling Black Skinhead this summer too.