How Ariana Grande Has Become The Queen of Charts
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How Ariana Grande Has Become The Queen of Charts

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Claudia Maddaluno
Come fa Ariana Grande ad essere la regina delle classifiche | Collater.al

After an incredibly successful year and on the heels of her fourth album Sweetener, Ariana Grande has been named Billboard’s 2018 Woman of The Year, joining a history of icons like Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Madonna and Selena Gomez.
Billboard’s vp of content Ross Scarano said:
Ariana Grande is a star on her own terms, never bending to any particular musical trend or path in the industry. Certain in her convictions, she consistently stands up for herself and her decisions in a world that often isn’t hospitable to that sort of strength in young women. She’s got guts, she’s making some of the best music of her career, and she’s absolutely deserving of Woman of the Year.”  

Of course her 2018 was amazing: the pop superstar not only scored the No.1 album in the country with Sweetener but landed 10 songs on Billboard Hot 100 chart being one of four women to place at least 10 songs on the Hot 100 simultaneously (the only other women to accomplish this feat are Cardi B, Taylor Swift, and Beyoncé).

And now that we are only at the beginning of 2019, she beats another record. After the release of her latest album Thank U, Next three of her songs – 7 Rings, Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored and Thank U, Next – respectively occupy the top slots in the Billboard Hot 100.

I don’t know if you got it: The Beatles were the last artists to do that. In 1964 they reigned the chart with Can’t Buy Me Love, Twist And Shout and Do You Want To Know A Secret?. But we have to say that they were a band, so Ariana Grande is the first solo artist to achieve the feat. We know that comparing a millennial artist to the Fab Four is blasphemy but Ariana Grande would be the exception, the only case where it is possible to do it.

7 Rings rules the Billboard Hot 100 for a fifth week and Thank U, Next tops the Top 200 for a second week.

Well. How does she do that?
I’ll try to analyze the reasons for this success below.

Sweetener and Thank U, Next‘s achievements show that Ariana Grande is no longer the teen idol with the bunny mask we met in My Everything: she is now a truly pop star who beats The Beatles record after 60 years.

Thank U, Next came out after a series of unfortunate events: the terrorist attack at her show at Manchester Arena, Mac Miller’s death and the break-up of her relationship with Pete Davidson. On those 12 tracks she seems like a survivor, finding a better way to channel her pain. This album is inspired by authentic feelings so it is true and emotional.
Despite she took the risk releasing Thank U, Next six months after
Sweetener, despite the criticism about breakup with Mac Miller and his passing, despite Princess Nokia and Soulja Boy have accused her of copying their music on 7 Rings, Ariana Grande is now untouchable.

Like a phoenix, she has now risen from the ashes, becoming the complete artist who won the first Grammy Awards of her life, deciding not to perform at the event.

As she sings on 7 RingsBeing through some bad shit / I should be a sad bitch / Who woulda thought it’d turn me to a savage“: we could say that her world is still all pink but now she is like a pink panther.

Pitchfork said it better on Thank U, Next review:
With Rihanna focused on makeup and lingerie, Beyoncé preoccupied as the better half of the Carters, and Taylor unwilling to share anything beyond an entry-level grasp of politics, Grande ascended“.

The Boca Raton singer is becoming the queen of charts, the queen of millennials and the queen of pop music mixed with rap and R&B.
By the way, it’s not all her. This success should be seen in a wider context.

In particular, her achievements are indicative of the ways in which chart success is measured in recent years.

In 1964, when The Beatles achieved their high-water mark of Hot 100 dominance with Can’t Buy Me Love, Twist And Shout and Do You Want To Know a Secret?, the Billboard metrics weren’t the same as now: 55 years ago, in order to make the Hot 100, a song has to be released as a physical single. Instead, in the post-physical era, the music consumption has changed, so myriad changes were introduced into the chart’s calculus (from digital download to the streaming platforms like Spotify, YouTube, SoundCloud). The result is that everyone can dream of reaching the top of the charts.

If we analyze the Billboard’s charts from 1958 to today, we can see how the last few years have been characterized by a smaller number of tracks in the first position where they remain for a lot of weeks. 70% of the slots, therefore, is currently occupied by artists with multiple songs on the list (Ariana Grande, but also Halsey and Cardi B).
Another trend is to release a lot of singles before the album release date or in a music and video promotional blitz: Ariana Grande released her latest single Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored the same day of Thank U, Next official release. It’s a strategy that makes it easier for entire albums to flood the Billboard Hot 100.

However, let us be clear: we’re not trying to take the credit from Ariana, actually. She is one of the artists most capable at keeping up with the music marketplace and its evolution. This is just an opportunity for a reflection on how the streaming, the social networks, and the chart’s changes have affected the music industry.

Anyway, her winning formula that combines millennial-pop with such a strong fan base (she has officially dethroned Selena Gomez as the most followed woman on Instagram) leads us to feel that Ariana Grande is already the Woman of the Year 2019.

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Written by Claudia Maddaluno
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