Artist Spotlight: Ariana Grande

By Tyler Clark

Last year Ariana Grande was introduced to Top 40 radio listeners with her summer smash “The Way,” but Ariana has been making a name for herself since 2008. Ariana Grande made her acting debut in the Broadway musical 13. In 2010, Grande was introduced to television audiences on the popular yet criminally terrible show Victorious, created by Dan Schneider who created the hits Drake & Josh, All That, and iCarly. The show was a main star vehicle for Victoria Justice, but Ariana only shone on a few songs featured on the show’s three soundtracks. The first soundtrack debuted at number 5 on the Billboard 200.

With the success of the soundtrack, Ariana was signed to Universal Republic Records in 2011 and began work on her debut album. She recorded about 20 songs and released her first single on December 12, 2011. “Put Your Hearts Up” was written by Grande, Linda Perry, Martin Johnson, and Matt Squire.

    The song failed to chart on the Billboard 200 and peaked at number 25 on the US Pop Songs chart. Ariana revealed in an interview that she was embarrassed by the single and felt it didn’t properly introduce herself as an artist. She went back to the drawing board and burst into the music scene two years later with “The Way.”

The single, co-written by American Idol alum Jordin Sparks, sold over 120,000 downloads in the first 48 hours and reached over 219,000 copies by the end of the week, the fourth biggest first sales week of 2013. The song debuted at number 10 on the Billboard 200 and peaked at number 9. The song went on to be certified double platinum.

With a new audience and an excellent new single, anticipation was high for Ariana’s debut album. That anticipation was eased on August 30, 2013, when Grande released Yours Truly. The album was a critical and commercial success. The album debuted at number 1 on the Billboard 200, making her the first female artist since Kesha to do so. Critics praised Grande’s vocals and overall sound of the album.

Ariana has not slowed down since the release of her debut album. She opened up for Justin Bieber’s Believe Tour. In December 2013, she released a Christmas EP titled Christmas Kisses.

On April 28, 2014, Ariana released her first single off her sophomore album. “Problem” features up-and-coming rapper Iggy Azalea and is co-written by pop hit maker Max Martin. Within the first week of release, the song sold 438,000 downloads, over double the amount of copies sold for “The Way.” The song debuted at number 3 on the Billboard Hot 100, earning her and Iggy Azalea a second Top 10 single. Her sophomore album will be nothing short of amazing, having worked with Zedd, Ryan Tedder, Max Martin, Benny Blanco, and Rodney Jerkins. Ariana’s album is expected to be released in the Fall of 2014.