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VMA 2016: Ariana Grande manages to make SoulCycle look fun

Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent who explains what society obsesses over, from Marvel and movies to fitness and skin care. He came to Vox in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at the Atlantic.

Ariana Grande, otherwise known as Mariah Carey's doughnut-licking, bunny ear–wearing Babadook, is at the point of her career where she wants us to remind us that she is a sexual woman. This was evident at the 2016 VMAs, when the singer performed "Side to Side" — a song about female empowerment — on a set of stationary bikes.

On these magical bikes, the singer and her dancers performed various interpretative cardio-inspired dance moves while wearing skimpy costumes. It's basically a naughty riff on the exercise phenomenon known as SoulCycle.

Midway into Grande's performance, Nicki Minaj joined to help close the song; male dancers pantomimed oral sex on the two while Minaj and Grande pushed their heads away. (This doesn't happen at SoulCycle.)