Grande has gone from a bright-eyed girl on Broadway to an international superstar in a decade. (Illustration by Kristen Lucius, Minneapolis College of Art and Design)
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The superstar has transformed from a sweet, talented actress into a goddess.

Ariana Grande has certainly proved that “God is a Woman” with her most recent work. The singer/songwriter has amazed fans and general music lovers alike with “Sweetener” and “thank u, next” in just the last three months.

She’s grown tremendously since the start of her artistic career in 2008, when she performed on Broadway in “13: The Musical.”

With Grande planning to release a new album soon (hopefully before the end of the year), now is the perfect time to look at her musical evolution.

Stage One: Broadway

When Grande was just 14 years old, she played Charlotte in “13: The Musical,” a story about the life of a young Jewish boy moving from New York to Indiana. Her feature solo in the musical would impress even the most cynical musical judge.

Even then, Grande proved that she was meant for more — her voice already astounded even as a middle schooler.

Stage Two: “Victorious”

After Broadway, Grande moved to television in 2009. She won a role in Nickelodeon’s “Victorious” as Cat Valentine, a superb singer and somewhat clueless student at a performing arts high school. One of the most memorable songs that Grande sang on the show was “Give It Up,” which showed off the singer’s outstanding harmonies and vocal skills.

Grande performed as Valentine in Victorious” for four years, and then reprised her role in the short-lived “Sam & Cat.” The artist claimed at the time, however, that despite her love of acting, “music has always been first and foremost with me.”

Stage Three: “Yours Truly”

After working on it for three years, Grande released her debut album “Yours Truly,” in 2013. It’s most popular song, “The Way”, featuring Mac Miller, debuted in the top of Billboard Hot 100. The Huffington Post, among others, compared Grande to Mariah Carey, emphasizing the singer’s powerful vocals on the album.

Grande focused on making the album a throwback to R&B, with some ‘50s style incorporated in her tracks. Most of “Yours Truly” is concentrated on Grande’s feelings about various stages of love, and features collaborations with Big Sean, Mika, Miller and Nathan Sykes.

Looking back at it, the music video for “The Way” seems somewhat rudimentary when compared to the videos that the artist has released recently.

Stage Four: “My Everything

Grande released her second album, “My Everything,” in 2014, less than a year after the release of “Yours Truly.” The singer said she wanted to show “an evolution” from her first release. Arguably the most popular song on the album, “Problem”, featuring Iggy Azalea, debuted at No. 2 on Billboard Hot 100. Other popular songs included “Break Free,” “Love Me Harder,” “One Last Time” and “Bang Bang.”

The album was once again a throwback to R&B, featuring Iggy Azalea, Zedd, Big Sean, Cashmere Cat, Childish Gambino, The Weeknd, A$AP Ferg, Jessie J and Nicki Minaj.

Grande stepped up her production for her music video for “Problem.” It was more in line with what the singer’s videos are like now, albeit still a lesser version.

Stage Five: “Dangerous Woman”

In 2016, Grade released her best received album to date, “Dangerous Woman.” The lead single of the same name debuted in Billboard Hot 100’s top 10, making Grande the first person to have the lead single from each of her first three albums debut in the top 10. Grande performed on “Saturday Night Live” and “The Tonight Show” to promote the album, which featured Minaj, Lil Wayne, Macy Gray and Future

The “Dangerous Woman” music video again proved to be an improvement from Grande’s previous work. The video was certainly more mature than anything she had released before, which matched the style of the song.

During Grande’s “Dangerous Woman” tour, a bomb went off at one of her concerts in Manchester. The tragedy was a defining moment for the artist, who responded by holding a benefit concert in Manchester supported by multiple other musical artists.

Stage Six: “Sweetener” and “thank u, next”

Grande suffered through a tremendously difficult year before releasing her fourth album “Sweetener.” Some blamed her for the tragedy in Manchester, she went through a break-up with her long-time boyfriend Miller, she received criticism for her rapid-fire engagement to “SNL” comedian Pete Davidson, before recently leaving him, and she was blamed for Miller’s untimely death.

All of this drama, death and chaos led up to Grande’s most recent album, “Sweetener,” and her quickly approaching album, “thank u, next.

“Sweetener” was drastically different from the singer’s previous work. The album featured a much more mellow sound, although it still had superb vocals. Fans’ favorite songs seemed to be “God is a Woman” and “Breathin,” although every song on the album was loved.

“Sweetener” broke the Spotify record for the biggest opening day by any female artist. The songs about love are pure, but Grande turned a majority of the focus onto Grande’s emotional state and her joy at her success.

Even the album art for “Sweetener” shows a completely new Grande. Previously, Grande’s albums have been exclusively in black and white, but she chose to put “Sweetener” in color. The album art also does not feature her name, which is a first for the artist.

The music video for “God is a Woman” is likely the artist’s best video yet and miles above anything else the singer has produced, with beautiful cinematography and complex colors.

Just three months after releasing “Sweetener,” Grande released the single “thank u, next” without warning. The song is about Grande’s experiences with her ex-boyfriends, which she put in a positive light while also showing that she has moved on. Grande has said that a new album of the same name will be released, possibly sooner rather than later.

“thank u, next” became Grande’s first song to play at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100. Grande also hit 20 million followers on Spotify this week, showing the immense progress the singer has made.

Grande is set to go on tour for “Sweetener,” and likely her new album, starting in 2019.

I have tickets, and it would be an understatement to say that I cannot wait.


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