Ariana Grande's "Sweetener" is the #1 album in the world, and she's been celebrating it this week with intimate "Sweetener Sessions" in a few cities...New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago.
Last night's event was in Chicago, and Ariana and her team were nice enough to invite a handful of radio people from nearby cities to see her perform Sweetener live in a SUPER cool setting - the Vic Theater.
I was one of the lucky handful that was invited. This kind of thing happens from time to time, but rarely with an artist of Ariana's caliber, so I was beyond flattered to be on the list. I'll be honest, while I've always liked her music, I've never been an #Arianator by any stretch. I'm a 35-year old married dad...not exactly the guy you would expect to see jamming out to "No Tears Left to Cry". But seeing her live...and in her element...has created a totally different perspective for me.
Okay, so first let's talk about how HYPED her fans were. Remember, Sweetener has been out for exactly five days as of last night. The crowd inside The Vic knew EVERY WORD to EVERY SONG...even the ones that haven't quite crossed into "God Is A Woman" territory yet.
And, by the way, we already knew this, but she can flat out SING. No question about it. Here's a clip of her singing "God Is A Woman" and DAYUM.
And of course I can't talk about this without talking about "No Tears Left to Cry" - the lead single from the album that hit #1 on pretty much every chart you could imagine.
And we got to witness a pretty cool moment on top of it - when right in the middle of "God is a Woman" Ariana's manager Scooter Braun and her mom Joan surprised her on stage...with the news that Sweetener was going to be the number ONE selling album in the world in it's debut week.
But here's what ended up making me a bigger fan of Ariana. We knew about the talent. That's always been there. We knew about the fans. We knew about the music. What I saw yesterday was something genuine...an absolute joy in the art, the music, and the experience. Look, without going into too much detail we've all heard rumors about past behavior. The diva-esque attitude, the sour looks, and let's not even talk about the infamous doughnut incident.
But something about Ariana is exponentially different from what was portrayed years ago. Maybe it's a happiness she's found with Pete Davidson. Maybe it's just becoming more comfortable in her own skin. Maybe it's a change in perspective caused by one of the single most horrifying things that any artist could bear witness. Maybe this has always been there and we all just didn't see it.
But what I saw last night was someone who was wholeheartedly invested in something she created, eager to share it with her fans, and happy to be completely lost in that moment for an hour.
Oh, and yeah, in case you're wondering, Pete Davidson definitely showed up.
So I went to Chicago a fan of Ariana Grande's music. I left a fan of Ariana Grande.
Thanks for the invitation Ari, and congrats on the #1 album!!