Friday, June 16, 2017

Pride Month: Ariana Grande Song Facts

INTO YOU by ARIANA GRANDE

This electric dance floor jam was produced by pop mastermind Max Martin and his co-writing and production partner Ilya Salmanzadeh. The same pair co-produced "Problem," the single that launched Grande from child star to mainstream prominence.

Grande penned the song with songwriters Savan Kotecha and Alexander Kronlund. She croons here of her desire for some risky, sexy love with her man, most likely her dancer boyfriend Ricky Alvarez.

There are references to the King of Rock 'n' Roll, Elvis Presley, and the Queen of R&B, Mariah Carey, in the hook.

A little bit dangerous, but baby, that's how I want it
A little less conversation, and a little more touch my body

Grande is singing of Elvis' "A Little Less Conversation" and Mariah Carey's "Touch My Body."

The Hannah Lux Davis-directed video finds Grande getting intimate with her beefy bodyguard beau in the desert. Davis also directed Grande's videos for "Love Me Harder" and "Focus" (as well as her Jessie J collab "Bang Bang").

Grande's hunk is played by America's Next Top Model alum, Don Benjamin. In the video, the tattooed bodyguard has a penchant for bandanas, much like Grande's real-life boyfriend, Ricky Alvarez.

PROBLEM by ARIANA GRANDE

The first single from Ariana Grande's second album, the songstress performed the tune for the first time at the Radio Disney Music Awards on April 27, 2014.

The boisterous song was originally written by the American songwriter Savan Kotecha, who has co-penned many of One Direction's hit tunes. Ariana then worked on the track with Swedish hitmaker Max Martin, who previously created such hit tunes as "…Baby One More Time," "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" and "Roar.

Ariana told MTV News of Max Martin: "He's amazing. I love working with him. He's like a mathematician. He knows music like math. It just makes sense to him."

The song finds Ariana singing about her insecurities about renewing a relationship with a former boyfriend whom she knows isn't good for her. "'Problem' truly represents the feeling of being absolutely terrified to re-approach a relationship that's gone sour - but you want to more than anything," she explained to Billboard magazine.

Ariana added that the song is based on her still-evolving relationship with an actual ex: "In the song, it ends on a sappy, negative note, but in [real] life, we're hoping it's going to end on a positive one," she said. "I feel like it's all very honest and human."

Rapper Big Sean provides the whisper-like vocals on the chorus. He previously featured on Ariana's 2013 single "Right There."

This song ends abruptly with a drop in backing music and one final vocal embellishment from Ariana. Because it cuts out in the middle of all the action, it fakes the listener into expecting more of the song and leaves them hungry for more. Since the last bit they hear is Ariana's voice, there's a good chance they'll seek out more of her songs to satisfy the craving.

The song reached #1 on the iTunes singles chart in just 37 minutes after its release. This broke the previous record held by Taylor Swift's "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together," which reached the top position within 50 minutes.

Speaking about working with Ariana on the song, Azalea told MTV UK: "We'd actually been talking about doing a collaboration for about a year. We spoke about me being on her first album and it didn't end up happening and so it's great to be on her first single. It's a cool song, really good vibe."

This began as a track written by Kotecha that he gave the working title of "The Whisper Song," after a 2005 Ying Yang Twins hit. "I don't remember where I came up with it," he told Rolling Stone. "Maybe in an airplane bathroom. On my phone I have an audio note where I whisper, 'One less problem.'"

The Ying Yang Twins were originally brought in for the rapped part but they couldn't get it together, so Ariana pushed for Iggy Azalea instead.

Ariana was initially thrown by the muted chorus. "I was scared to approach it, because of the whispers," she admitted. "Their objective was to do the opposite of a traditional song structure. The idea was to have a really belt-y verse and then a completely minimalistic, whispering, basic chorus. At first, I just didn't like being all belt-y right away."

Iggy's line, "I got 99 problems but you won't be one" is a reference to the Jay Z song "99 Problems," while "Iggy Iggy too biggie to be here stressin'" is a nod to The Notorious B.I.G.'s "Hypnotize."

Ariana originally didn't want to include "Problem" on her sophomore album, but was convinced of its potential after playing it in a meeting with her label and management. She decided to strengthen the song with the help of Australian rapper Iggy Azalea, whom she met while attending Katy Perry's MTV EMAs after-party in October 2013. "I was a fan of hers from when she put 'Work' out," said Ariana of Iggy's 2013 single. "I thought she was so sensible and down-to-earth and talented."

There's no mistaking Azalea for anyone else in this song, mostly because she plugs herself three times (no one else does). In the intro, she announces "It's Iggy Iggs!" and in the rap bridge she introduces herself a second time and later adds:
When I ain't around you
Iggy Iggy
Too biggie to be here stressin'

It's always a good idea to have a few big names in one song to amp up the potential for success, but Ariana Grande's guest stars also give her an edge on demographics. While her own voice - and rep as a Nickelodeon star - draws in young listeners from the pre-teen/mid-teen crowd, Big Sean's breathy whispers and Azalea's rap attract young adults (Big Sean also gives guys a way to relate to an otherwise female song), and the overall sound hooks the 30-and-up audience nostalgic for '90s R&B.

There shouldn't be a problem remembering this simple title - it's mentioned 34 times throughout the song.

This was the first #1 in the UK to be based on combined sales and streaming after audio streams were incorporated in the chart. In its first week of release the song achieved sales of 113,000 copies, comprising 106,000 sales and 712,000 streams. (According to the UK chart's new criteria, 100 streams is equivalent to one download sale).

Iggy Azalea is officially credited as a featured artist, making her the first ever female MC to reach the summit of the UK singles charts. The previous highest chart placing achieved by a female rapper was # 2, a position reached by Salt N' Pepa with "Push It" and "Let's Talk About Sex" and Nicki Minaj with "Starships."

There is a caveat - some chart watchers state that Missy Elliott was the first female rapper to top the UK chart, because of her 1998 rapped intro to Mel B's #1 "I Want You Back."

Grande's little laugh at the beginning of the song came from an attempt to ad-lib a saucy spoken vocal along the lines of what Britney Spears did ("It's Britney Bitch") at the top of "Gimme More." When Grande tried it (at the urging for her producers), it came off more demonic than sexy, and they started laughing hysterically. Part of this laugh was incorporated into the song, just as Azalea introduces herself.

BEST MISTAKE by ARIANA GRANDE

This slow burning ballad finds Grande contemplating ending a fractured relationship. She sings:

Break-up, make-up, total waste of time.
Can we please make up our minds

Though it's obviously time to part ways, the singer is finding it difficult to walk away from her guy.

Big Sean contributes a verse halfway through the song in which he continues the break-up and make-up concept. The rapper recorded his rhymes around the time that he split from his girlfriend Naya Rivera, which may well have influenced his lyrics.

Sean previously worked with Grande on her Yours Truly single "Right There" as well as whispering some lines on her hit tune "Problem."

FOCUS by ARIANA GRANDE

This horn-heavy song was penned by Ariana Grande with American songwriter Savan Kotecha and Swedish songsmiths Ilya and Peter Svensson. It was produced by Max Martin.

Savan Kotecha, Ilya and Max Martin also co-wrote "Problem," the lead single from Grande's previous album My Everything, while former Cardigans guitarist previously contributed to another of the songstress' singles, "Love Me Harder."

The sassy song opens with Grande singing: "I know what I came to do, and that ain't gonna change." She explained in a video blog that the lyric has a very powerful meaning behind it. "What I came here to do in this world is not only to entertain but to love, to share, to listen, to improve, to learn, to share music, to share experience, to share feelings, to make people feel happy and empowered," the singer said.

"To make people feel like they're not alone. Without using my voice to do those things I would feel empty," Grande continued.

The chorus finds Grande pleading multiple times, "Focus on me."

"When I say 'focus on me' I'm not asking to be the center of attention. I'm not asking you to focus on my face or my clothes or my body or my singing voice," she explained. "By 'focus on me,' I literally mean focus on me. Focus on what I'm all about and what I believe in."

"The more we focus on each other as people and not on what we look like, what we're wearing, our gender, our hairstyle, our sexuality, the color of our skin," Grande continued. "But focus on each other on a soul level. The more we realize how much we have in common, the more we listen to each other, the more one we become."

Jamie Foxx is the guy supplying the male vocals on the 'Focus on me' chorus.

The single cover art features Grande with lilac blonde hair. It was shot by celebrity videographer Alfredo Flores.

Hannah Lux Davis directed the song's video, which also features Grande with her new white colored hair. Davis had previously directed other music clips of Grande such as "Love Me Harder" and her joint single with Jessie J and Nicki Minaj, "Bang Bang."

This was originally intended to be the lead single from Dangerous Woman. However, the song was cut from the standard edition track listing, and only included as a bonus track on the Japanese edition of the album. The title track replaced it as the lead single.

LOVE ME HARDER by ARIANA GRANDE

This song finds Ariana pairing up with Toronto R&B singer The Weeknd, who is best known for penning explicit tunes about his sexual exploits. The two singers trade verses about keeping the girl happy by loving her harder.

The song was produced by Max Martin who supplies a throbbing soundscape. The Swedish hitmaker also worked with Grande on her hit singles "Problem" and "Break Free."

The music video was directed by Hannah Lux Davis, who also helmed the clip for Grande's joint single "Bang Bang." The promo features The Weeknd helping Grande get the love she desires. "Our visuals are really about this tug of war of just loving harder and the compromise of giving in and needing more and wanting more," Hannah Lux Davis explained. "Just honesty."

The Weeknd recalled to Rolling Stone receiving a demo sung by labelmate Ariana Grande. "It was a great song," he said, "but it was a little generic. I couldn't hear myself on it. So I changed it and made it dark."

The Weeknd rewrote the lyrics and sent them back to Max Martin. It was a turning point for the Canadian R&B singer - his first hit single. "It was kind of like the label giving me an alley-oop," he said. "I think that's where the stars aligned for me. When I see an opening, I penetrate it."

The song was originally penned by the Swedish songwriter-producers Max Martin, Peter Svensson and Ali Payami with American hitmaker Savan Kotecha. The Weeknd then added some of his flavor helped by frequent collaborator, Belly.

"I remember sitting in a studio in L.A. and me and (Peter Svensson) were just playing around," Payami recalled to Billboard magazine. "A few days later, he showed me this voice note with a part of a melody that we had played, and we tried to recreate it. From there, the whole thing came together. Savan (Kotecha) came in with more melodies and lyrics, and then after that the Weeknd did his thing."

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