“I want to be empowering my fans,” 22-year-old Floridian pop star Ariana Grande recently said of her sultry new single ‘Dangerous Woman’. “I feel like my personal growth is reflected in the sound. To me, a dangerous woman is someone who’s not afraid to take a stand, be herself and to be honest.”
More tellingly, last year she wrote in an essay on sexism, “If a woman TALKS about sex openly… she is shamed! But if a man talks or RAPS freely about all the women (or more commonly used “bitches” / hoes” … how lovely) he’s had… he is regaled. The double standard and misogyny are still ever present. I can’t wait to live in a world where people are not valued by who they’re dating / married to / attached to, having sex with (or not) / seen with… but by who they are as an individual.”
This track – about Grande making the first move, basically – has the same sighing, waltzy vibe as The Weeknd’s 50 Shades Of Grey soundtracker ‘Earned It’, but in place of Abel Tesfaye’s weepy lust is Grande’s tunnel-vision desire, plain and simple. “I’m bulletproof and know what I’m doing,” she tells her unnamed Bad Boy. “Don’t need permission, made my decision.”
She’s right – it does sound empowered, even if it doesn’t sound especially dangerous for her in the wake of her 2014 collaboration ‘Love Me Harder’ with The Weeknd (lyrics included “If you just let me invade your space/ I’ll take the pleasure, take it with the pain”).
Grande’s career was initially launched on Nickelodeon, a career path shared by ex-Disney peers Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez, both of whom have recently put out records with similar vibes (‘Confident’, ‘Revival’), and both of whom likewise follow in the footsteps of Miley Cyrus’ extreme post-Disney rebranding. Although none of them can really achieve the glitterbomb shock factor of Cyrus without going similarly off-piste, Grande is the most out-there of the three, and continues to make good on that perception here.
She has a voice of Mariah Carey magnitude, a sense of humour, and a laudable approach to bullshit (last year she calmly explained to an interviewer why asking her a question about choosing between her makeup and her phone was sexist). With ‘Dangerous Woman’, Grande shows herself as someone who continues to be determined to challenge the norm.