Ariana Grande's Music Video Evolution Goes From Sweet To Sweetener
Ariana Grande has come a long way since her days of candy-coated bubble gum pop and television stints on Nickelodeon, but there's a special place in my heart for Ari's tunes — both new and old. Pop music's favorite ponytail-rocking queen might have matured her sound in recent years, but her OG tracks were absolute bops and should not be taken for granted. The singer has released five dazzling studio albums since stepping onto the scene and, through the years, her records have constantly changed in new and inspiring ways. Join me in taking a look at the highlights of Ariana Grande's music video evolution.
With every album she's released, Ari delivered a plethora of captivating music videos, and each one perfectly represented a different time in Ari's life. From the highs, the lows, and everything in between, the songstress has learned to effortlessly channel her life into her art and it's why I've grown to love her so much. Of course, fans know her viral videos such as "Thank U Next" or "Side To Side," but there are some absolute gems that deserve more recognition than they got. Basically what I'm saying is: Grande can do no wrong and these videos are proof. With no further ado, let's take a walk down memory lane.
1. "Put Your Hearts Up" (December 2011)
"Put Your Hearts Up" was, in fact, Grande's very first music video. Important content, yes — but these days, Grande isn't the biggest fan of her earliest hit.
In an interview on Zach Sang and the Gang, Grande explained why her throwback smash makes her cringe. "That's like scrolling too far back on Facebook, and you're like, 'oh s**t,'" she said.
She added that she "felt like 'Put Your Hearts Up' would've been Cat's single," referring to her character from Victorious. "I really wanted to do music, but I couldn't wait."
Regardless of what Ari says, I deem this song a bop.
2. "The Way" Ft. Mac Miller (March 2013)
Gone, but not forgotten. The late Mac Miller is featured in this throwback video, which was an adorable display of their friendship (which would get romantic years later). The pair dated for two years from 2016 to 2018 before Miller tragically passed away in September 2018 due to overdose.
Fun fact: "The Way" was actually Grande's first chart-topping single on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 9.
3. "Baby I" (September 2013)
Baby I? More like baby Ari! The singer looked so young in this video and I can't believe this was a mere six years ago. A must-see throwback for Arianators everywhere!
4. "Right There" Ft. Big Sean (October 2013)
Another Grande video featuring an ex-boyfriend? You got it. Ari dated rapper Big Sean for nine months from 2014 to 2015 and even laid down a track in the studio with him. The two lovebirds teamed up for the official video to the song and threw an enchanting masquerade party.
5. "Problem" Ft. Iggy Azalea (May 2014)
I still know the words to this one by heart, y'all. "Problem" commanded the airwaves when it was released in 2014 and the video is equally as mesmerizing. The retro-inspired clip is full of hard-hitting dance moves and eyelash batting from Ari. I promise you won't be able to turn away.
6. "Break Free" Ft. Zedd (August 2014)
Grande was an intergalactic space queen in the official video for "Break Free." A vicious alien battle was no problem for the pop star in this clip, which is one of her more bizarre visuals to date.
7. "Love Me Harder" Ft. The Weeknd (November 2014)
Something just feels so right about Grande and The Weeknd on the same track together. Maybe it's their soulful vibe, or the fact that his hair was equally as iconic as her ponytail, but I'm really, really here for it.
Both singers held on to their A-list status for years after they released "Love Me Harder" and the song became one of Grande's biggest collaborations to date.
8. "Santa Tell Me" (December 2014)
Grande got into the holiday spirit big time in 2014 when she released this catchy Christmas bop. The video is undeniably her silliest to date, and she enlisted some of her gal pals to help her out. The video set looked like the ultimate slumber party and, TBH, I have fomo watching.
9. "Focus" (October 2015)
An oldie but a goodie. "Focus" marked a turning point in Ari's career. With sultry song lyrics and sexy dancing throughout the video, this was seemingly when Ari stopped caring about maintaining that "good girl" Nickelodeon persona and really let loose.
10. "Dangerous Woman" (March 2016)
Wow. Grande quite literally stood in one place for the entirely of this video, but that's all she had to do because she looked F-I-R-E. Black lingerie and all, this was definitely a year of evolution for the singer, who completely stopped caring what people thought and just did ~her~.
11. "Into You" (May 2016)
Some videos never get old and this is one of them. The desert scenery, the whimsical motorcycle rides, Ari's hair blowing in the wind... perfection, all of it! Also, if anyone know's where her male counterpart is in life these days, feel free to let me know.
12. "Side To Side" (August 2016)
I'm so here for this collab, but I love the friendship that blossomed out of it even more. After releasing this bop in 2016, Grande and Minaj stayed friends and have lifted each other up through the years!
The best part of this song/video was undoubtedly when everyone figured out what the lyrics were actually about.
13. "My Favorite Part" (December 2016)
This is nostalgia at its finest people. While these days, this video breaks my heart a little bit each time I watch Grande's chemistry with the late Mac Miller, it's easily one of Ari's most romantic tracks to date.
14. "No Tears Left To Cry" (April 2018)
Lights, cameras, glamour!
Grande was the picture of sophistication in this video, slipping into a series of stunning gowns and singing amid a gorgeous city skyline. The pop star was truly the belle of the ball in this dreamy visual, I'll say that.
15. "God Is A Woman" (July 2018)
Within 30 seconds of this video starting, Grande really did have me convinced God is a woman — and her name is Ari. Seriously, could she get any more perfect?
16. "Thank U, Next" (November 2018)
Iconic doesn't even cover it. With an all-star cast consisting of Kris Jenner, Troye Sivan, Jennifer Coolidge, and more, this video broke the internet... literally. When the clip premiered, it not only broke YouTube records, it caused the site to glitch because so many people were on it!
17. "Breathin" (November 2018)
This video was dreamy AF and marked a new era of sophistication for Ari. Her 2018 Sweetener record was full of ethereal, melodic bops and "Breathin" was an instant standout.
18. "7 Rings" (January 2019)
An anthem for the ages got an equally-captivating video that will stand the test of time. This was the ultimate single girl anthem and the video was empowering AF. She want it, she got it.
19. "Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I'm Bored" (February 2019)
Who doesn't love a good plot twist? I definitely did not see the ending in this video coming!
Ari's Thank U, Next album was arguably her sexiest yet and this song was chock full of steamy lyrics from front to back. Single Ari, FTW!
20. "Monopoly" Ft. Victoria Monet (April 2019)
Two queens unite! It's no secret that Grande clung to her girl gang more than ever after her October 2018 split with Pete Davidson, and she and Victoria Monet were pretty much attached at the hip. It only made sense these two hopped on a song together!
21. "Boyfriend" Ft. Social House (August 2019)
22. "Don't Call Me Angel" ft. Miley Cyrus & Lana Del Rey (September 2019)
What did I do to deserve Miley Cyrus, Lana Del Rey, and Grande on the same track?!
These girls SLAYED this video together and were a true force to be reckoned with. The action-packed video will only make you all the more excited for the Charlie's Angels reboot arriving on Nov. 15, 2019.
Looking back, it's hard to believe that Grande has amassed such an incredible music video catalog with less than ten years in the biz under her belt. From her early duets to her most recent chart-topping collabs, there has really never been a dull moment. However, something tells me that the singer's best has yet to come.