meta-scriptAriana Grande's Road To 'Wicked': How The Pop Star Manifested Her Theater Kid Dreams In The Most Full-Circle Way Possible | GRAMMY.com
Ariana Grande's Road To 'Wicked': How The Pop Star Manifested Her Theater Kid Dreams In The Most Full-Circle Way Possible
Ariana Grande performing on "A Very Wicked Halloween" in 2018.

Photo: Eric Liebowitz/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

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Ariana Grande's Road To 'Wicked': How The Pop Star Manifested Her Theater Kid Dreams In The Most Full-Circle Way Possible

As 'Wicked' fans await Ariana Grande's debut as Glinda the Good Witch in the 2024 film adaptation of the Broadway smash, revisit the journey that led the self-proclaimed "theater nerd" to her biggest career milestone yet.

GRAMMYs/Aug 2, 2023 - 02:00 pm

Long before Ariana Grande was known as a global pop superstar, Broadway's Kristin Chenoweth was one of the first to recognize her inimitable talent.

"She was maybe seven or eight," Chenoweth recalled of meeting the singer for the first time during a 2019 stop at "Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen." At the time, the Broadway veteran was starring as the original Glinda in "Wicked," and a young Ariana had won an auction to meet her backstage at the Gershwin Theater. 

"Her mom and grandma brought her back and she sang a little bit of 'Popular,'" Chenoweth continued. "And I thought, 'Well you're pretty good.'"

Fast forward to more than 15 years later, and Grande herself is stepping into the role made famous by Chenoweth for the upcoming big screen adaptation of "Wicked" — a dream casting that has Ozians, munchkins and Arianators alike exclaiming, "We couldn't be happier!"

Directed by Jon M. Chu, the musical prequel to The Wizard of Oz will also star Cynthia Erivo as Elphaba opposite Grande and tell the enchanting story of Glinda and Elphie's unlikely friendship before they became the witches of Ozian lore. A massive undertaking translating beloved songs like "The Wizard and I," "What Is This Feeling?" and "Defying Gravity" to the silver screen, the film will be split in two parts; the first is set to hit theaters nationwide just in time for Thanksgiving next year. (As of press time, production on the two films is currently on pause amid the ongoing SAG-AFTRA and WGA strikes.)

The role of Glinda is a complete full-circle moment for Grande, a proudly self-described "theater kid" — one whose professional career actually started out on the Broadway stage.

On September 16, 2008, a then-14-year-old Ari made her Broadway debut as Charlotte in Jason Robert Brown's all-teen musical 13. The composer had won acclaim (and a Tony Award) for his previous works like Parade and The Last Five Years, but the show — which was centered around a group of 13-year-olds growing up, hitting puberty and surviving the horrors of middle school in small-town Indiana — only ran for a total of 105 performances before closing in January of the following year.

Even still, the show gave Grande a small taste of the spotlight, and in an unearthed interview with MTV News from the time, the future pop star adorably predicted exactly where the next 15 years would take her. "Whatever I end up doing with my career, I really hope that it's in this sort of business. Whether it's, you know, being on Broadway or recording albums, I really just hope I'm always singing and acting and dancing and, you know, making movies would work, too!" she manifested, citing everyone from Christina Aguilera and Mariah Carey to India.Arie and Imogen Heap as a few of her musical idols.

Though her time on the Broadway stage was short-lived, Grande quickly pivoted to television,   landing the role of Cat Valentine on the Nickelodeon sitcom Victorious, (which ran from 2010 to 2013), and its subsequent spin-off, Sam & Cat, alongside Jennette McMurdy. The pair of kiddie sitcoms gave the teenaged star a platform to both build a fanbase of loyal tweens and regularly show off her musical prowess — a harbinger of the international pop fame soon to come.

By late 2011, the burgeoning triple threat had signed with Republic Records (then known as Universal Republic) and released her debut single "Put Your Hearts Up." However, it was "Popular Song," her 2012 collaboration with MIKA, that landed Ariana her very first entry on the Billboard Hot 100. And what do you know? The campy duet interpolated none other than "Popular," the very same song from "Wicked" that she'd sung to Kristin Chenoweth all those years earlier.

Grande's debut album, Yours Truly, arrived in September 2013, with "Popular Song" joining the tracklist alongside hits like "The Way" featuring Mac Miller, "Baby I" and the Big Sean-assisted "Right There."

Over the course of her next two records, 2014's My Everything and 2016's Dangerous Woman, Ariana shot to the pop stratosphere. She landed seven more top 10 hits on the Hot 100 (including "Break Free," "Bang Bang," "Love Me Harder" and "Side to Side") and headlined two sold-out arena tours, joining the upper echelon of singers she'd spent her life admiring.

But even as she became a bonafide household name, the singer stayed connected to her theater roots. Months before Dangerous Woman arrived, Grande popped up as a special guest at one of Jason Robert Brown's cabaret-style concerts in Los Angeles, where she sang "The Lamest Place in the World" and "Brand New You" from 13 — the latter with Broadway luminary Shoshana Bean — as well as deep cut "Getting Out" from 2005's Wearing Other People's Clothes.

The two also got to reunite for the deluxe version of Dangerous Woman for the aptly titled "Jason's Song (Gave It All Away)." While the jazzy, piano-inflected bonus cut was an undeniable outlier to the album's more R&B-leaning sound, it still served as the project's third and final promotional single; Grande even performed it live on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in September 2016.

By the end of that year, Grande tapped into her musical theater roots again, but with an altogether different kind of role: Penny Pingleton in NBC's Hairspray Live! Alongside the likes of Dove Cameron, Jennifer Hudson, Garrett Clayton and Broadway royalty like Chenoweth, Harvey Fierstein and Martin Short, the superstar brought both a daffy charm and her powerhouse voice to the show's lovable sidekick and certified "checkerboard chick," belting out fan favorite numbers like "Mama, I'm a Big Girl Now," "Without Love" and "You Can't Stop the Beat."

"I started doing theater when I was younger, I have always been a huge theater nerd," Grande gushed from the Hairspray Live! press junket red carpet, Chenoweth by her side. "And a lot of people don't actually know that this is, like, my soul. It's like my heart." ("Her DNA!" Chenoweth proudly piped in.)

"So being able to do this production that I grew up singing every single day in the car… I worship this role," she added. "And also working with so many people who I have grown up worshiping is just, I can't say it enough times, it's so inspiring and so crazy and so beautiful and it'll never get old to me."

In between her next two albums — 2018's Sweetener and 2019's thank u, next, which both debuted atop the Billboard 200 — the megastar returned to NBC for "A Very Wicked Halloween," a special musical celebration of "Wicked"'s first 15 years on Broadway. For her supreme performance of Elphaba's Act 1 showstopper "The Wizard and I," Grande sported dazzling green lips as footage of Chenoweth and Idina Menzel played on a giant projector behind her.

Though most of thank u, next chronicled Grande's headline-making, whirlwind romance (and breakup) with comedian Pete Davidson, she once again found a way to inject a little Broadway on the album. But this time, the theater tribute became one of the biggest hits of her career: a little post-breakup bop known as "7 Rings."

Spinning the real-life tale of Ari treating her besties to a shopping spree at Tiffany & Co. in the wake of her split with Davidson, the trap-pop hit's ingenious melody came from quite the unexpected ditty — an interpolation of "My Favorite Things" from Rodgers and Hammerstein's The Sound of Music.

Instead of waxing nostalgic over raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, though, the superstar cooed over, "Breakfast at Tiffany's and bottles of bubbles/ Girls with tattoos who like getting in trouble/ Lashes and diamonds, ATM machines/ Buy myself all of my favorite things" on the braggadocious track. (Interestingly, she also chose to sign 90 percent of the song's royalties over to the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization ahead of its release — a truly unheard-of split in the age of the modern music industry, particularly for a song that went on to spend eight weeks at the top of the Hot 100.)

The song became Grande's second consecutive hit to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 (following "thank u, next"), breaking numerous streaming records in the process. And for the self-described "theater nerd," the fusion of pop and musical theater was not just a commercial success — it was also an authentic recalibration of her point of view as a recording artist.

"We started at home base — me," she said in a 2018 Billboard cover story honoring her as Woman of the Year. "And then we went in this place where I kind of played the game for a little bit, and did the big, big, big pop records. Then we slowly started incorporating my soul back into it — and that's where we've landed again with thank u, next."

Grande spent the majority of 2019 touring in support of Sweetener and thank u, next, including headlining Coachella and launching the Sweetener World Tour. The latter — which was later released as the live album k bye for now (swt live) and the Netflix concert documentary Ariana Grande: Excuse Me, I Love You — featured another Broadway homage, as the singer performed a coquettish cover of "My Heart Belongs to Daddy" from the 1938 Cole Porter musical "Leave It to Me!" for the show's final intermission.

The tour's third and final leg officially concluded on December 22, 2019, just months before the entire world shut down due to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. Like many homebound artists, Grande used her sizable talents to make a difference during the crisis. And though everyone surely remembers her delectable take on "I Won't Say (I'm in Love)" for the Disney Family Singalong (playing both Meg and, yes, all five of the Muses at once), the singer also joined forces with Jason Robert Brown once again for a special one-night-only concert benefiting musicians affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

For the occasion, Grande delivered a touching rendition of "Still Hurting" from The Last Five Years. In a statement following the virtual concert, Brown acknowledged just how remarkable her talent remains.

"I've known Ari since she was an astonishingly talented 14-year-old," he said. "We've gotten to make music together a couple of times throughout the years, and whenever it happens, I am struck by how comfortable our collaboration is and how relentlessly hard she works to get things exactly right. My text said, 'Do you know my song "Still Hurting"?' And her response was, 'Am I a person?' Ari was in."

By 2021, the world had begun to cautiously rouse itself from its pandemic slumber, and that November, Ariana and Erivo were announced as Glinda and Elphaba in the long-awaited adaptation of "Wicked" on the silver screen. (Even Erivo knew the scale of Grande's casting, sending her a bouquet of flowers with a note that read, "the part was made for you.")

When filming reached the halfway point this past April, Grande shared a photo of herself standing under a rainbow on set alongside a gratitude-filled (and awestruck) caption. "I don't know what to do or say," she wrote, "to be here in Oz where everyday is a life changing one."

Even more than two decades after her fateful first meeting with Chenoweth, it seems Grande's heart remains in Oz — proving that her childhood wish really has taken her somewhere over the rainbow. 

"Savoring every millisecond left with my Galinda (although she'll be with me irrevocably, forever). she shows me so many new things every day," Grande added in her April post. "I hope this isn't all a dream because as present as i am attempting to be, it sure does feel like one… my fellow Ozians. my heart will be stuck here forever."

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15 Must-Hear Albums In March 2024: Beyoncé, Ariana Grande, Shakira & More
(Clockwise) Sheryl Crow, Deryck Whibley, Tierra Whack, Justin Timberlake, Schoolboy Q, Kasey Musgraves, Kim Gordon, Tyla, Beyoncé, Dua Lipa

Photos: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic; RICHARD THIGPEN; Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for WIRED; Owen Schatz; Jason Armond/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images; KELLY CHRISTINE SUTTON; Jason Squires/FilmMagic; JASON ARMOND / LOS ANGELES TIMES VIA GETTY IMAGES; KEVIN MAZUR/GETTY IMAGES FOR THE RECORDING ACADEMY; Araya Doheny/FilmMagic

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15 Must-Hear Albums In March 2024: Beyoncé, Ariana Grande, Shakira & More

From the debuts of Tyla and rapper Tierra Whack, to a new salvo from Kim Gordon, women dominate the list of releases for March. While it may be Women's History Month, there are a few major releases from male artists, including Justin Timberlake.

GRAMMYs/Mar 1, 2024 - 04:02 pm

March is Women’s History Month, and women in music are more powerful than ever. 

The month begins with the comeback of several queens, starting with Kim Gordon’s The Collective and Ariana Grande’s Eternal Sunshine. Later, country darling Kacey Musgraves will unveil Deeper Well, and Shakira will drop the empowering Las Mujeres Ya No Lloran. Long-awaited debuts by GRAMMY-winning singer Tyla and singer/bassist Blu DeTiger will also join the lineup, with their respective Tyla and All I Ever Want Is Everything. Wrapping up March on a high note, Beyoncé will drop her highly-anticipated Act II on the 29th.

Men will release music in March as well: Expect new releases by Justin Timberlake, Bleachers, the last record from pop-punk band Sum 41, and (allegedly) Kanye West and Ty Dolla $ign’s Vultures 2.

To make the most of this prolific time, GRAMMY.com compiled all the must-hear albums dropping March 2024.

Schoolboy Q - Blue Lips

Release date: March 1

On Feb. 1, Schoolboy Q’s website was updated with a mysterious countdown and a 37-second video. In it, the rapper finally unveiled the setlist and title of his much-awaited sixth studio album, Blue Lips, as well as its release date — March 1.

Blue Lips is Q’s first full record since 2019’s Crash Talk, although he had been teasing the album since 2020. Hopefully, it was worth the wait: Blue Lips holds 18 tracks and participations by Rico Nasty, Freddie Gibbs, and more. Q has also started a new vlog series on social media called "wHy not?," where he takes the viewers behind the scenes of making the album and previews snippets of the songs.

So far, the rapper shared tracks "Blueslides," "Back n Love" with Devin Malik, "Cooties" and "Love Birds" with Devin Malik and Lance Skiiwalker, as well as lead single "Yeern 101."

Bleachers - Bleachers

Release date: March 8

Fronted by 10-time GRAMMY winner and 2024 Producer Of The Year Jack Antonoff, rock band Bleachers will release its eponymous fourth studio album on March 8.

In a press release, Bleachers is described as Antonoff’s "distinctly New Jersey take on the bizarre sensory contradictions of modern life." The self-titled record will blend sadness and joy into "music for driving on the highway to, for crying to and for dancing to at weddings."

The band shared four singles so far: lead track "Modern Girl," "Alma Mater" featuring Lana del Rey, "Tiny Moves" and "Me Before You." Through serendipitous melodies and soulful writing, Bleachers commit to "exist in crazy times but remember what counts." 

Bleachers will tour the U.K. in March and the U.S. in May and June.

Kim Gordon - The Collective

Release date: March 8

Former Sonic Youth vocalist Kim Gordon will release her sophomore LP, The Collective, on March 8. The album is a follow-up to her 2019 debut No Home Record, and furthers her collaboration with producer Justin Raisen, as well as additional producing from Anthony Paul Lopez.

"On this record, I wanted to express the absolute craziness I feel around me right now," said Gordon in a press statement. "This is a moment when nobody really knows what truth is, when facts don’t necessarily sway people, when everyone has their own side, creating a general sense of paranoia. To soothe, to dream, escape with drugs, TV shows, shopping, the internet, everything is easy, smooth, convenient, branded. It made me want to disrupt, to follow something unknown, maybe even to fail."

Back in January, the singer unveiled the album’s moody first single, "Bye Bye," and a music video starring her daughter, Coco Gordon Moore. The second single, "I’m A Man," came out in February. Gordon will play six concerts in support of The Collective, starting March 21 in Burlington, Vermont.

Ariana Grande - Eternal Sunshine

Release date: March 8

It’s been almost four years since Ariana Grande’s last studio album, 2020’s Positions. The starlet spent the past few years filming Wicked, an adaptation of the Broadway musical of the same name, and declared that she wouldn’t be releasing any new records until it was done.

The wait is finally over, as Grande announced her seventh studio album, Eternal Sunshine. The album’s first and only single, "Yes, And?," dropped in January, followed by an Instagram video of the soprano singer explaining the concept of the album to her Republic Records team. 

"It’s kind of a concept album ’cause it’s all different heightened pieces of the same story, of the same experience," she said. "Some of [the songs] are really vulnerable, some of them are like playing the part of what people kind of expect me to be sometimes and having fun with it."

"I think this one may be your favorite," Grande wrote of Eternal Sunshine on her Instagram Story. "It is mine." The 13-song collection will reportedly explore house and R&B, and will have only one feature: Grande’s grandmother, who appears on the last track, "Ordinary Things."

Kanye West and Ty Dolla $ign -Vultures 2

Release date: March 8

After a series of delays, Kanye West and Ty Dolla $ign’s first collaborative album, Vultures 1, ultimately dropped on Feb. 10, 2024. Set to be the first installment of a trilogy, the album was released independently through West’s YZY label, and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart, with all of its 16 tracks also charting on Billboard’s Hot 100.

Billed as ¥$, the duo plans to release Vultures 2 on March 8, and follow up with Vultures 3 on April 5. Although any other info about the upcoming volumes is still unclear, Timbaland recently shared on X (formerly Twitter) that Vultures 2 is "OTW." (Timbaland produced Vultures 1’s "Keys to My Life" and "Fuk Sumn" with Playboi Carti and Travis Scott.)

In the past month, West and $ign held a few listening parties for the album in the U.S. and Europe, but additional schedules are yet to be revealed.

The Jesus and Mary Chain - Glasgow Eyes

Release date: March 8

To celebrate their 40th anniversary, alt-rock band the Jesus and Mary Chain will release their eighth studio album, Glasgow Eyes, on March 8.

As it can be seen on lead single "Jamcod," the Scottish group still runs strong on the distorted synths and electrifying guitars that shaped their sound. "People should expect a Jesus and Mary Chain record, and that’s certainly what Glasgow Eyes is," vocalist Jim Reid said in a statement. "Our creative approach is remarkably the same as it was in 1984, just hit the studio and see what happens. We went in with a bunch of songs and let it take its course. There are no rules, you just do whatever it takes."

Glasgow Eyes also mends a six-year gap since the Jesus and Mary Chain’s latest album, 2017’s Damage and Joy. To further commemorate, the band will also release an autobiography and embark on a European tour throughout March and April.

Justin Timberlake - Everything I Thought It Was

Release date: March 15

Justin Timberlake is back with his first studio album since 2018’s Man of the Woods. The new record, Everything I Thought It Was,  is spearheaded by singles "Selfish" and "Drown."

"I worked for a long time on this album, and I ended up with 100 songs. So, narrowing them down to 18 was a thing," said Timberlake in an interview with Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1. "I’m really excited about this album. I think every artist probably says this, but it is my best work." The Memphis singer also shared that there are "incredibly honest" moments in the album, but also "a lot of f—ng fun."

To celebrate his return, Timberlake announced his Forget Tomorrow World Tour. Set to kick off on April 29 in Vancouver, the tour will cross through North America and Europe until its final date on Dec. 16 in Indianapolis.

Kacey Musgraves - Deeper Well

Release date: March 15

Fresh off winning Best Country Duo/Group Performance at the 2024 GRAMMYs for the Zach Bryan duet "I Remember Everything," Kacey Musgraves announced her fifth studio album, Deeper Well..

"My Saturn has returned/ When I turned 27/ Everything started to change," she sings in the contemplative title track, exploring how she changed over the last few years. The single sets the tone for the rest of the record, which was co-produced by longtime collaborators Ian Fitchuk and Daniel Tashian

Featuring 14 tracks, Deeper Well was mostly recorded at the legendary Electric Lady studios in New York City. "I was seeking some different environmental energy, and Electric Lady has the best mojo. Great ghosts," the country star noted in a press release.

On social media, Musgraves wrote: "it’s a collection of songs I hold very dear to my heart. I hope it makes a home in all of your hearts, too." Deeper Well follows 2021’s star-crossed

Tierra Whack - World Wide Whack

Release date: March 15

When rapper Tierra Whack released her first album, 2018’s Whack World, she quickly garnered the admiration of both critics and fans. Comprising 15 one-minute tracks and music videos for each, the release was a refreshing introduction to a groundbreaking artist.

In 2024, the Philadelphia-born star is preparing to release World Wide Whack, labeled her official debut album in a press release. The cover artwork, created by Alex Da Corte, was inspired by theater character Pierrot, fashion designer Elsa Schiaparelli and Donna Summer, and represents "the first reveal of the World Wide Whack character, an alter ego both untouchable and vulnerable, superhuman and painfully human, whose surprising story will unfold in images and video over the course of the album’s visual rollout."

The album follows Whack’s 2021 EP trilogy — Rap?, Pop? and R&B? — and is foreshadowed by the poignant "27 Club" and the eccentric "Shower Song."

Tyla - Tyla

Release date: March 22

After a glowing 2023 with viral hit "Water," South African newcomer Tyla started 2024 with a blast. Last month, she became the first person to win a GRAMMY for Best African Music Performance, and the youngest-ever African singer to win a GRAMMY Award at 22 years old.

Next month is poised to be even better: Tyla’s eponymous debut LP drops on March 22, featuring "Water" and other hits like  "Truth or Dare," "Butterflies" and "On and On," as well as a guest appearance by labelmate Travis Scott.

"African music is going global and I’m so blessed to be one of the artists pushing the culture," Tyla shared on Instagram. Her unique blend of amapiano, pop and R&B is making waves around the world, and the star will rightfully celebrate by touring Europe and North America throughout this spring.

Shakira - Las Mujeres Ya No Lloran

Release date: March 22

The title of Shakira’s new album, Las Mujeres Ya No Lloran, is a nod to her 2023 hit "Shakira: Bzrp Music Sessions, Vol. 53" with Argentine DJ Bizarrap. In the lyrics, she states that "las mujeres ya no lloran, las mujeres facturan" — "women don’t cry anymore, they make money."

The single is a diss to Shakira’s ex-partner, footballer Gerard Piqué, and, like the rest of the record, served as a healing experience after their separation. "Making this body of work has been an alchemical process," the Colombian star said in a statement. "While writing each song I was rebuilding myself. While singing them, my tears transformed into diamonds, and my vulnerability into strength."

Las Mujeres will feature 16 songs, including her Bizarrap collaboration and singles "Te Felicito" with Rauw Alejandro, "Copa Vacía" with Manuel Turizo, "Acróstico," "Monotonía" with Ozuna, "El Jefe" with Mexican band Fuerza Regida, and "TQG" with fellow Colombian Karol G.

Back in 2018, Sheryl Crow said that the LP Threads would be her last — fortunately, she changed her mind. "I said I’d never make another record, though there was no point to it," the singer shared in a statement about her upcoming album, Evolution. "This music comes from my soul. And I hope whoever hears this record can feel that."

According to the same statement, "Evolution is Sheryl Crow at her most authentically human self," and its music and lyrics "came from sitting in the quiet and writing from a deep soul place." 

The entire album was written in a month, starting with the title track, which expresses Crow’s anxieties about artificial intelligence and the future of humans. From then on, Crow and producer Mike Elizondo found bliss. "The songs just kept flowing out of me, four songs turned into nine and it was pretty obvious this was an album," she said.

In addition to the album's title track, Crow also shared singles "Do It Again" and "Alarm Clock."

Sum 41 - Heaven :x: Hell

Release date: March 29

After nearly three decades together, punk-metal mavericks Sum 41 are parting ways. Their final release will be a double album. Heaven :x: Hell, set to drop on March 29.

Heaven is composed of 10 pop-punk tracks reminiscent of the band’s early years, while Hell is 10 tracks of pure heavy metal, reflecting the direction they took more recently. "Once I heard the music, I was confident enough to say, ‘This is the record I’d like to go out on,'" frontman Deryck Whibley said in a statement. "We’ve made a double album of pop punk and metal, and it makes sense. It took a long time for us to pave this lane for ourselves, but we did, and it’s unique to us."

The band shared singles "Landmines," "Rise Up" and "Waiting on a Twist of Fate," and proved that they’re leaving on top of their game. "I love Sum 41, what we’ve achieved, endured, and stuck together through, which is why I want to call it quits," Whibley added. "It’s the right time to walk away from it. I’m putting all of my energy into what’s ahead."

But before embarking on new ventures, Sum 41 will spend the rest of the year touring throughout Asia, North America, and Europe.

Blu DeTiger - All I Ever Want Is Everything

Release date: March 29

At only 26 years old, Blu DeTiger has already toured with Caroline Polachek, played bass for Jack Antonoff’s band Bleachers, collaborated with Fender to launch a new line of bass guitars, and appeared on the 2023 Forbes 30 Under 30’s music list.

Now, she prepares to release her debut studio album, All I Ever Want Is Everything. "This album is about growing and becoming, settling into yourself and learning to love where you’re at through it all. It’s about learning how to be your own best friend," the bassist and singer wrote on Instagram.

"Dangerous Game," the lead single off the album, showcases DeTiger’s effervescent energy and potential for pop stardom. Starting April, she will also headline a U.S. tour across Boston, Washington D.C., New York, Toronto, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego.

Beyoncé - Act II

Release date: March 29

What better event to announce a new album than the most-watched TV program ever? That’s what Beyoncé did during Super Bowl LVIII, on Feb. 11. At the end of a Verizon commercial, the singer declared "Okay, they ready. Drop the new music," while simultaneously releasing Act II’s lead singles, "16 Carriages" and "Texas Hold 'Em," on social media and streaming platforms.

Coming out March 29, Act II is the second part of Beyoncé’s ongoing trilogy, which was written and recorded during the COVID-19 pandemic. The album is preceded by 2022’s acclaimed Act I: Renaissance, but instead of house and disco, the singer will reportedly take a deep dive into country music.

This isn’t Queen Bey’s first foray into the genre — in 2016, she released Lemonade’s "Daddy Lessons," and her 2021 IVY PARK Rodeo collection was inspired by "the overlooked history of the American Black cowboy," as she told Harper’s Bazaar. It was just a question of time for Beyoncé to enter her country era, and it is finally upon us.

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Ariana Grande Shines In ‘Wicked: Part 1’ First Look Movie Teaser
Ariana Grande as Glinda the Good Witch in the First Look for 'Wicked: Part 1.'

Photo: Univeral

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Ariana Grande Shines In ‘Wicked: Part 1’ First Look Movie Teaser

The trailer for the wildly anticipated movie musical starring Ariana Grande as Glinda the Good Witch and Cynthia Erivo as Wicked Witch Elphaba dropped before kickoff during Super Bowl LVIII.

GRAMMYs/Feb 12, 2024 - 01:00 am

Something has changed within me! The first trailer for Wicked: Part 1 premiered during Super Bowl LVIII starring Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo.

The teaser gives fans a peek at the first, fortuitous meeting between Grande’s Glinda and Erivo’s Elphaba on their first day at (dear old) Shiz University. Letting out a frightened shriek, the future Good Witch of the North marvels, “Oh! You’re green!” to which Elphie plays along, staring at her hands in awe before agreeing, “I am!”

Elsewhere in the teaser, Elphaba dons her famous black witch’s hat before revealing, “Something just takes over me, and when it does, bad things happen” as Glinda floats into frame in her iconic bubble, all dolled up in a frilly pink gown with matching crown and scepter.

While Wicked lovers don’t get a sneak peek at two-time GRAMMY winner Grande Grande singing any of Glinda’s songs in the trailer, we do get to hear strains of “Defying Gravity” as the clip introduces Jonathan Bailey as Fiyero, Michelle Yeoh as Madame Morrible and Jeff Goldblum as the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, with the latter ominously promising, “The best way to bring folks together is to give them a real good enemy.”

The trailer ends with Glinda and Elphaba arriving hand-in-hand at the Emerald City to meet the Wizard, with Grande whispering, “Don’t be afraid” and Erivo replying, “I’m not afraid; it’s the Wizard who should be afraid of me.” Cue the Wicked Witch bursting out of a window and taking flight for the first time as she lets roar the beloved final riff at the end of “Defying Gravity.”

Wicked: Part 1 is scheduled to hit theaters nationwide on Thanksgiving Day 2024 and also stars Ethan Slater, Marissa Bode, Bowen Yang, Keala Settle and Adam James. Watch the trailer above.

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Victoria Monét's Evolution: How The "On My Mama" Singer Transitioned From Hit Songwriter To Best New Artist Nominee
(L-R) Victoria Monét in 2015, 2019, and 2023.

Photos (L-R): Ethan Miller/Getty Images, Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic, Paras Griffin/Getty Images

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Victoria Monét's Evolution: How The "On My Mama" Singer Transitioned From Hit Songwriter To Best New Artist Nominee

After racking up seven nominations at the 2024 GRAMMYs for her debut album, 'Jaguar II,' Victoria Monét has proven that her prowess behind the scenes wasn't just for other artists — it was prepping her for the spotlight.

GRAMMYs/Feb 2, 2024 - 06:00 pm

With seven GRAMMY nominations at the 2024 GRAMMYs, Victoria Monét has officially entered her pop star era in epic fashion. But the singer/songwriter is far from an overnight sensation — she's been laying the groundwork for her breakthrough success for over a decade.   

With the 2023 release of her debut album, Jaguar II, Monét materialized years of writing blockbuster hits for Ariana Grande, Chloe x Halle, Selena Gomez and more into an acclaimed artist career of her own. Along with her GRAMMY nominations — including Best New Artist — she embarked on her first headlining tour and scored her first No. 1 hit. 

It's the kind of success Monét has been working toward her entire life, and particularly since attending a performing arts program during high school in her hometown of Sacramento. Whether writing for herself or others, Monét has a relatability that resonates with any listener; her introspective lyricism touches on everything from love, heartache and sexuality to empowerment and friendship. Her sleek, instrument-driven R&B stylings feel familiar yet fresh, bringing elements of dancehall, old-school slow jams, upbeat pop, reggae, hip-hop, trap, alternative R&B and country into the genre. 

"She really puts in the work and she is being rewarded now more than ever for it," producer  D'Mile, who has known Monét since the beginning of her career, tells GRAMMY.com. "She grows more and more confident and sure about what she's aiming for as she continues her journey."

D'Mile worked with Monét on her 2020 project, Jaguar, one of six EPs Monét had released before Jaguar II. While she garnered buzz for Jaguar, its sultry and dreamy follow-up took her artistry and acclaim to another level. Along with Jaguar II garnering hundreds of millions of streams, Monét saw legendary artists like Anita Baker and mega producer Jimmy Jam singing her praises, and both Jay-Z and former President Barack Obama included "On My Mama" on their favorite songs of 2023 playlists.

"I'm hoping that people who do find me now are along for the ride for the long run, or stay around until I do a Vegas residency when I'm 70 or something," the Georgia-born singer told Variety in December. "I'm just excited for the journey. I feel like it's definitely uphill right now."

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Back in the late 2000s when Myspace reigned supreme, Monét's long-held dreams of becoming a professional singer were finally realized. After sending a friend request to Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins — the GRAMMY-winning producer behind countless iconic tracks like Monica's "The Boy Is Mine" and Destiny's Child's "Say My Name," and one of Monét's biggest influences — he invited her to audition for a girl group, Purple Reign, he was putting together for Motown Records.

Monét packed her bags and headed to L.A. to join the group, but they were dropped before releasing any music. Stuck in L.A. and needing to make ends meet, the singer turned to songwriting — and little did she know, her backup plan would change everything.  

In just a few years, she had helped pen songs for the likes of Diddy Dirty Money, Nas, T.I., and Coco Jones (the latter of whom is now a fellow Best New Artist nominee). Along the way, she met Ariana Grande during the pop star's stint at Nickelodeon, and the two have been close collaborators since. After working together on two songs for Grande's debut, 2013's Yours Truly, Monét has co-written a majority of the superstar's subsequent albums through 2020's Positions and featured on 2019's "Monopoly."

In fact, Monét's first GRAMMY nominations were for her work with Grande. In 2020, her songwriting on Grande's 2019 LP, Thank U, Next, earned a nod for Album Of The Year as well as Record Of The Year for its braggadocious single "7 Rings." (Monét notched her third nomination as a songwriter the following year, for Best R&B Song for Chloe x Halle's "Do It.")

"Victoria is a brilliant collaborator, musician, writer and just as brilliant of a friend. She is a very pure person and I think that's why we connect the way we do," Grande told Billboard in 2019.  "She is a timeless writer and vocalist and one of the nicest people I know and truly deserves the world. I'm so proud of the work we've done together and so excited to watch her grow as an artist."

Though her success with Grande was abundant, Monét admitted that there came a point where she felt her songwriting overshadowed her artistry. She had released four EPs from 2014 to 2018, all of which showcased a more exploratory sound than Jaguar II, but remained rooted in R&B. In 2020, she decided it was time to honor, as she put it, "what the little girl in me wanted to do": perform.

The COVID-19 pandemic presented challenges for Monét's fifth EP, 2020's Jaguar; first, a five-month delay of the release, and second, the inability to perform it live. Yet, her star was on the rise: Jaguar became Monét's first charting project, landing in the top 20 of the Hip-Hop/R&B charts in both the U.S. and the UK as well as No. 1 on Billboard's Heatseekers Albums chart in August 2020. 

The following February, she welcomed her first child, a daughter, Hazel. After experiencing postpartum depression, she decided to channel her struggles into music — and it resulted in her breakthrough hit.

"On My Mama," the third single from her debut full-length album, Jaguar II, is a brassy throwback to the sultry, head-bopping R&B jams of the late '90s/early '00s, with luscious stacked harmonies and self-affirming lyrics ripe with a mix of sexy innuendos and clever wordplay ("They say, 'Ooh, she smell good'/ That's just 'cause I'm Heaven-sent").

The catchy bop — which samples Chalie Boy's 2009 Dirty South anthem, "I Look Good" — was an instant radio hit and earned the singer her first two No. 1s on Billboard charts (she topped the Mainstream R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay tally for 2 weeks in November 2023 and the R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay list in December). The song's feel-good music video, which has racked up over 33 million views on YouTube as of press time, features Chali Boy, Hazel and, of course, her mom.

The swaggy ode to self-empowerment scored two GRAMMY noms, Record Of The Year and Best R&B Song. Along with those and her Best New Artist nod, Jaguar II helped Monét earn seven nominations in total, including Best R&B Album, Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical, Best R&B Performance ("How Does It Make You Feel") and Best Traditional R&B Performance ("Hollywood").

After a long and winding road, Monét has proven that her artistry is as impactful as her songwriting. As D'Mile notes, a big reason she's now seeing success is because she's done her homework as much as she's laid her groundwork.

"She studies the greats. Janet, Beyoncé..." D'Mile says. "We went to see the 'Renaissance' film. Mind you, she already saw it at the premiere. But this time, I was next to her and I can literally feel her watching the movie with different eyes than probably everyone else in the room." 

This dedication is on full display in her music videos and in her live performances. She hit the road for her first-ever headlining tour in 2023, dazzling fans with high-energy choreography and elite vocal control reminiscent of Bey herself — and selling out all 22 shows minutes after tickets went on sale.

Amid the final dates of the tour, the 2024 GRAMMY nominations arrived. And not only did Monét receive her first nominations as an artist in her own right, but she earned perhaps her biggest validation to date: a Best New Artist nomination. 

"I had something to prove. It wasn't just handed to me," Monét recently told Variety. "So it's all a part of why I think things are coming to fruition now: It's just time. It's almost like, 'Alright girl — you didn't give up. We're going to give you something.'"

Monét's career trajectory continues to skyrocket as she prepares for Music's Biggest Night. In the weeks leading up to the 66th GRAMMY Awards, Monét has earned nominations from ASCAP and the NAACP Image Awards, and she's set to receive the Rising Star award at the Billboard Women in Music Awards in March. And while she hasn't announced tour plans for 2024, she is on the bill for two massive festivals; Monét is set to make her Coachella debut in April and play Governor's Ball in New York City in June.

And whether or not she scores a golden gramophone on Feb. 4, Monét already feels like a winner. 

"I feel now is the time to stand my ground, and be proud of what I am, and who I am," she told CBS News on Jan. 30, days before the 2024 GRAMMYs. "This is one step closer to a really big dream."

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Everything We Know About Ariana Grande’s New Album ‘Eternal Sunshine’

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Everything We Know About Ariana Grande’s New Album ‘Eternal Sunshine’

Pop sensation Ariana Grande is gearing up to shine. Her much-anticipated seventh studio album is scheduled for release in March — here’s all the details we know about ‘eternal sunshine’ so far.

GRAMMYs/Jan 18, 2024 - 12:23 am

Superstar Ariana Grande has officially announced the release of her next studio album and per usual, she sent the internet ablaze. Fans of the two-time GRAMMY-winning pop singer can mark their calendars for Grande’s official return with eternal sunshine on March 8.

Grande has been topping charts for more than a decade after first breaking into the top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 with her debut single, "The Way," featuring Mac Miller, from her debut album, 2013’s Yours Truly

Just days before announcing eternal sunshine — her first album since 2020’s Positions — Grande released the lead single "yes, and?" which teased a new disco-inspired sound that has fans and critics alike abuzz for more. 

Ahead of the release, here’s everything GRAMMY.com currently knows about eternal sunshine

The Album Will Be Released On March 8

On Jan. 17, Grande unveiled the album’s cover art, title and March 8 release date on social media. The singer’s mom took to her daughter’s Instagram post to share her elation about the upcoming release. "woooohoooo!!! here we f—ing go!!!" she wrote. "you're incredible ... the album is perfection!!! so proud.. Xooxxox". We love a proud mom moment.

The Artwork Reflects A New Direction

Ariana Grande

In a striking departure from her neutral style, Grande dons red lipstick in the cover art for eternal sunshine. A powerful statement, this deliberate and unapologetic choice stands as a potent symbol of confidence, defiance, and courage.

The album’s cover art, featuring a close-up, partially obscured shot of Grande’s face with a soft motion blur, also reflects the tumultuous swirl of media attention surrounding her personal life. It sets the tone for the album, signaling a new era of boldness and artistic maturity. Grande appears to be reclaiming the narrative, transforming a symbol traditionally associated with stigma into one of strength and resilience.

She’s Working With Max Martin Again

Grande’s back to work with GRAMMY-winning producer and songwriter Max Martin, who has co-written and co-produced songs on five of her seven albums. After not collaborating on 2020's Positions, Martin is seemingly back on board for eternal sunshine, as he co-wrote "yes, and?". ( "yes, and?" was co-written and co-produced by another frequent Grande and Martin collaborator, Ilya Salmanzadeh.)

She’s Ready To Clap Back

As Grande released "yes, and?" on Jan. 12, she also sent a message with the music video; it’s a direct response to fans, critics, and commenters judging Grande’s life and career. 

The video opens with a skit that features naysayers, making watercooler commentary including, "I mean who cares if she’s happy. I don’t want happy, I want art," and "I think I liked her better when her ponytail was a few centimeters higher." After being ushered and sat in a room full of stone statues, the characters watch astonished as the statues crumble and Grande appears to stomp over the rubble before launching into the disco-inspired dance track. 

More pops of red appear throughout the otherwise monochrome video: a red invitation from “Ari” that appears in the first few seconds of the skit and Grande’s own glossy, manicured nails. 

Her Fellow Superstars Are Pumped

Momma Grande isn’t the only one excited for eternal sunshine. When Ari posted photos and video clips from the studio on Instagram in December, she had several celebs screaming with joy. 

"FINALLY," commented Selena Gomez, with Billie Eilish eagerly demanding, "UN MUTE PLS" and SZA adding, "Oh this bout to eat." But Grande’s frequent co-writer Victoria Monét may have put it best: "She’s HOME!"

She’s Already Back To Topping The Charts

Although Billboard charts were unavailable as of press time, "yes, and?" premiered at the top position on the Spotify Global Chart, marking her most significant streaming debut on Spotify ever. The single also secured the No.1 position on Apple Music Top 100 Global Chart and the official music video for the single "yes, and?" grabbed the top spot on YouTube’s Trending For Music category. 

If that success is any indication for what’s to come upon eternal sunshine’s full release in March, Grande’s return may be her most grande yet. 

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