Ariana Grande is one of the biggest names in pop music. For those who haven't been paying attention, it might seem like she came out of nowhere and rocketed into the national spotlight. And indeed, with two albums in two years, Grande's ascent to pop stardom was swift.
However, the singer is now under fire for being an unpatriotic doughnut licker. Here's a recap of her career thus far.
1) Who is Ariana Grande?
Ariana Grande (pronounced grahn-day) is a 22-year-old actress turned singer-songwriter. She is known for her hit songs "The Way" and "Problem." She's 5 feet tall, she (almost) has the lungs of Mariah Carey, and she opened for Justin Bieber after her debut album launched.
2) Is that her real name?
Pretty much. Ariana Grande's birth name is Ariana Grande-Butera. Grande is her mother's maiden name. She does not have a middle name, as she made very clear in this tweet. She is "Italian American, half Sicilian and half Abruzzese."
3) How did she get famous?
Ariana Grande began her career when she appeared in the Broadway musical 13 in 2008. In 2010, she also landed a role on the Nickelodeon show Victorious, where she played Cat Valentine. Eventually Victorious was canceled, but in 2012, Grande's character was spun off into the show Sam & Cat, where Grande had a more central role than she had on Victorious.
Grande has a couple of advantages over other child stars. First, she started later than many of them. When she began her career at 13, she was already old enough to decide what she wanted to do and how she wanted to accomplish it.
More importantly though, there was already a very clear distinction between who she played on Nickelodeon and who she was in real life because — unlike Britney Spears, for example — she had always been a character on television instead of a dramatized version of herself.
She released her first album, Yours Truly, while filming Sam & Cat, after being scouted by Scooter Braun, the god of pop music managers, who also discovered and promoted Justin Bieber. "I don't think she needs to worry about anything other than being who she is," Braun told Complex magazine.
Grande later put acting on the back burner in order to pursue her music career.
4) What other performing artists is Grande typically compared to?
Because of her vocal range, Grande is often compared to power vocalist Mariah Carey. At four octaves, it isn't quite the five octaves and two notes that Carey has, but it's not too shabby. Grande has called Carey the greatest vocalist who ever lived because of "her range, her ability, and her control." Just listen to her cover Carey's "Emotions":
5) Can she dance?
Nope. Nope. Not at all.
Ariana Grande is a horrible dancer, though she is improving. When she performed songs on her first album, she followed in the (non-)footsteps of powerhouse vocalists like Mariah Carey and Celine Dion, in that she stood still and let her voice do the heavy lifting.
But in the promotion for her second album, she tried to make the transition to pop princess, which meant she tried to dance. For Grande, most dancing is really just hair flipping. Watch her try here:
Since this performance, though, Grande seems to be improving on stage. At her performance at the NBA All-Star game in February, Grande showed better stage presence and was generally more engaged with her audience. That said, her dancing was still pretty bad.
6) Is Grande's lack of dancing skills the biggest struggle in her life?
No. Demons are.
Grande has made it very clear that she does not believe humans are the only intelligent beings on this planet. She told Complex magazine about a time that she photographed "three distinct faces" of demons, but later deleted the photo because it was "666 megabytes." Grande told Complex that she is very afraid of demons and something she calls black matter:
"Every time I closed my eyes I started seeing these really disturbing images with, like, red shapes. Then I opened my eyes and got back on the phone and was like, "I'm really scared and I don't want to go to bed tonight." And then I scooched over to the left side of my bed, because that's where the best service is in my room, and there was this massive black matter. I don't know what it was. It was like a cloud of something black right next to me. I started crying."
7) How did she get so popular?
In the summer of 2014, in a drought of new music, Grande released two songs: a pop anthem and a star-studded collaboration. Her single "Problem" featuring Iggy Azalea was a contender for song of the summer. Then she released "Break Free," a pop R&B jam that showcases her massive soprano range. Both songs were hits.
From there, her fame only grew. Her sophomore album, My Everything, was released in August 2014 by Republic Records, a division of Universal Music Group, and was immediately a triple threat. Grande also filmed a music video with Iggy Azalea, performed at the 2014 VMAs (where she won Best Pop Video), appeared on Saturday Night Live, and debuted a host of commercials for Target and Beats headphones.
Additionally, My Everything was produced by powerhouse pop producer Max Martin. Martin is the producer who made Britney Spears a huge success and helped Taylor Swift turn the corner from country rocker to international pop star. As evidenced from the first single off My Everything, "Problem," Grande, too, was trying to make the transition from young talent with a golden voice to superstar. And she was doing so under Martin's direction, which gave her a distinct advantage.
In 2015, Grande has gone on tour, started work on a third album, and signed on to play a role on the upcoming Fox horror comedy Scream Queens, which debuts in September.
8) Is Ariana Grande the next pop queen?
The easiest answer here is maybe. Grande has potential. Her first album,Yours Truly, debuted atop on the Billboard chart, putting her in the same ranks as Britney Spears and Beyoncé, but also Ashlee Simpson. The first album for each of those artists debuted at No. 1. For Britney and Beyoncé, that meant infinite fame. For Ashlee Simpson, not so much. Unlike Simpson, Grande certainly has a natural talent in her impressive vocal range. That, by itself, could propel her to further fame.
Unlike many of those artists, though, Grande's second album My Everything also debuted at No. 1 giving her two No. 1 albums in a row. Not only is that incredibly rare, but it means that Grande had two No. 1 albums in under a year. Grande is one of only three women to do that since Nielsen started tracking album sales in 1991. (The other two are Susan Boyle and LeAnn Rimes). Only five male acts have performed the same feat.
Even after Taylor Swift's 1989 was released in October 2014, Grande's My Everything remained in Billboard's Top 25 albums. Throughout 2015, it has remained in Billboard's Top 100 albums.
So while she may not be able to dance, it appears Grande is here to stay.
9) What does Grande think about doughnuts, America, and obesity awareness?
During the Fourth of July weekend, a security camera in a California doughnut shop caught Grande allegedly licking doughnuts she hadn't paid for. In the video, which was acquired by TMZ, Grande seems to be licking doughnuts that are sitting out on the shop's counter, which she does while employees' backs are turned. Later in the clip, she looks at a fresh tray of doughnuts presented to her by one of the shop's employees and exclaims, "What the fuck is that? I hate Americans. I hate America. That's disgusting."
Though it's difficult to tell whether any actual contact was made between Grande's tongue and the sugary pastries, the video spread quickly via Twitter, where #donutgate and #doughnutgate hashtags were born. While some people were outraged by the singer's less-than-patriotic statements, others were more horrified by her treatment of innocent rings of deep-fried dough.
On Wednesday, July 8, Grande addressed the incident in a statement to BuzzFeed, apologizing and explaining that her behavior was an extension of her views on America's obesity crisis:
I am EXTREMELY proud to be an American and I've always made it clear that I love my country. What I said in a private moment with my friend, who was buying the donuts, was taken out of context, and I am sorry for not using more discretion with my choice of words. As an advocate for healthy eating, food is very important to me and I sometimes get upset by how freely we as Americans consume things without giving any thought to the consequences that it has on our health and society as a whole. The fact that the United States has the highest child obesity rate in the world frustrates me. We need to do more to educate ourselves and our children about the dangers of overeating and the poison that we put into our bodies. We need to demand more from our food industry. However I should of known better in how I expressed myself; and with my new responsibility to others as a public figure I will try to be better.
She also tweeted the statement herself, admitting she needs to "clean up this mouth of mine" and promising that she's "always learning":
need to clean up this mouth of mine & set a better example for my babes. i apologize and i love you. always learning. pic.twitter.com/BkJWcLxR5y— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrande) July 8, 2015
In sum, Grande loves her country and just wants its citizens to stay healthy, okay?