Despite her recent engagement to comedian Pete Davidson, Ariana Grande has turned her attention back to music. On Friday, Grande released “God Is a Woman,” the latest single from her upcoming album Sweetener, and its accompanying music video.
“God Is a Woman” has gained lots of attention due to its explicit lyrics and symbolic message, both of which are unusual for Grande, and has raised the anticipation for her album. “I’ve always just been like a shiny, singing, 5-6-7-8, sexy-dance…sexy thing,” she told The Fader. “But now it’s like, ‘OK … issa bop — but issa message. Issa bop but also has chunks of my soul in it.”
Here’s what you need to know about Grande’s upcoming album Sweetener:
1. The Album Is Set for Release on August 17th
Grande announced her fourth album via Snapchat on November 13, 2016. “I didn’t mean to make an album, and I don’t know if it’s done at all, but I just have a bunch of songs that I really really like,” she explained. “I’ve been working a lot and have been creating and feeling inspired.” In a 2017 Billboard interview, Grande admitted that the Manchester Bombing slowed down her process, and that she was going to take more time with the album than she had her previous releases.
“I started an album already a year ago, over a year ago, but I want to keep creating, and it’s not done yet,” she revealed. “So I’m going to take my sweet a*s time, so I’ll be rested and ready to go again as soon as possible.” In May, Grande officially began the rollout for the album, revealing that there will be fifteen tracks, guest verses from Missy Elliott and Nicki Minaj, and that it will titled Sweetener.
While appearing on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, Grande explained the meaning behind the album’s title.”It’s kind of about bringing light to a situation or to someone’s life or somebody else brings life to your life,” she said. “Sweetening the situation.”
Sweetener was originally scheduled for a July release, but the pre-order link for the album revealed that it will be released on August 17. You can pre-order the album on iTunes by clicking here.
2. She Says the Manchester Bombing Has Changed Her Musical Approach
Grande has been forthright with how much the 2017 Manchester Bombing affected her. Talking with The Fader, she said that she still has trouble putting her feelings on the matter behind her: “I guess I thought with time, and therapy, and writing, and pouring my heart out, and talking to my friends and family that it would be easier to talk about, but it’s still so hard to find the words.”
The music video for Sweetener‘s first single, titled “No Tears Left to Cry,” featured a bee as an homage to the victims and survivors of the tragic bombing. Grande said that connecting with the survivors, as well as fans of hers who have undergone similar tragedies, was what helped her move on. “The thing that makes me feel OK with opening up and finally allowing myself to be vulnerable is that I know [my fans] feel the same feelings,” she explained. “I’ve talked to them about it.”
Grande also told The Fader that the experience has led to a newfound maturity in her music. “I feel like I graduated almost,” she said. “I feel like for a long time the songs were great, but they weren’t songs that made me feel something the way these songs do.”
The singer said that she has a track on the album titled “Get Well Soon” that details the fear of an anxiety attack. She wrote the lyrics to the song right after experiencing one, and said that she previewed the track for some of her fans. “I played [the song] for them before I played it for my label,” she recalled. “They were like, ‘Thank you,’ when they heard that one. It was so scary to do that, but to see them be like, ‘I get it, I feel that too’…”
3. Pharrell Williams & Max Martin Are Reportedly Producing the Entire Album
According to Grande, her musical shift was not prompted by the Manchester Bombing, but it was given a new level of importance. She says that she met with famed producer Pharrell Williams in 2016, where she told him: “Take me somewhere completely new — let’s just go.” Grande later described Williams’ role in the making of the album as: “Part listener, part therapist, part stenographer.”
Williams also spoke to The Fader, claiming that what he was doing musically was worrying the record company, who had come to expect formulaic music from Grande. “In all honesty, I feel like [after Manchester] was when different people from the record company actually started to understand what we were trying to do,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that that situation is what gave it context, but they were able to really see it then. And that’s the truth.”
Grande stated that Williams will handle production on at least half of the album. They previously worked together on “Heatstroke,” from Calvin Harris’ album Funk Wav Bounces, Vol. 1.
The other half of the album is said to be produced by Max Martin, who previously worked with Grande on the hit singles “Bang Bang,” “Problem” and “Dangerous Woman.” Martin has not yet commented on the album.
4. Grande Has Released Three Singles Thus Far
Grande’s first single, “No Tears Left to Cry,” was released on April 20. It debuted at number three on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Grande’s ninth top 10 Hit, tying her with Lady Gaga and Rihanna in sixth place among acts with the most top 10 debuts. “No Tears Left to Cry” also made Grande the first artist in Billboard history to debut in the top 10 with a lead single from each of her first four albums.
The second single, and thus far the only promotional single, “The Light Is Coming,” was released on June 20. The song features a guest verse from Nicki Minaj, who previously worked with Grande on the hits “Bang Bang” and “Side to Side,” and was accompanied by a music video. “The Light Is Coming” has not fared as successfully as its predecessor on the charts, however, peaking at 95 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Grande’s third single, “God Is a Woman,” is the predicted to be the last official single before the album’s release. That said, Grande has confirmed the titles of several other tracks, including “Raindrops,” “Borderline,” and “Goodnight N Go.”
5. ‘God Is a Woman’ Is Rumored to Be About Pete Davidson
As was previously mentioned, “God Is a Woman” has gotten lots of attention for its coded lyrics. “You, you love it how I move you / You love it how I touch you / My one, when all is said and done / You’ll believe God is a woman,” she sings. “And I, I feel it after midnight / A feelin’ that you can’t fight / My one, it lingers when we’re done / You’ll believe God is a woman.”
Many fans have theorized that the “one” Grande is referring to is her fiancé, Davidson. This makes sense given the romantic nature of the song, and the fact that she has sung about significant others in the past, namely the 2014 song “Best Mistake,” which both features a verse from and is about Big Sean.
Davidson lent credence to the rumor when he reacted to “God Is a Woman” on his Instagram story. “GIAW at midnight,” he wrote in the caption. “This is one of my favorite songs on the album it’s bonkers!!!” The SNL comedian also posted a photo of him wearing Grande’s merchandise with the caption: “GIAW out now!!!!”