Ariana Grande, reigning teen pop idol with a defiant edge

1 / 2
US singer Ariana Grande was named 2018 woman of the year by industry tracker Billboard. (AFP)
2 / 2
Grande shattered a number of US chart records and released two albums in six months. (AFP)
Updated 12 April 2019
0

Ariana Grande, reigning teen pop idol with a defiant edge

  • Grande has proven poised in the face of tragedy and a deft manipulator of her own image, all while catapulting to global stardom
  • Grande is set to headline a number of major festivals as part of her global tour

PALM SPRINGS: Bubblegum pop coquette on the outside, saucy master of celebrity on the inside, there is perhaps no current star better at re-fashioning her own trials into larger-than-life success than Ariana Grande.
While suffering a highly publicized burst of personal and professional upheaval — the deadly 2017 Manchester bombing at one of her concerts, the suicide of her ex-boyfriend rapper Mac Miller, the demise of her whirlwind engagement to comedian Pete Davidson — Grande has proven poised in the face of tragedy and a deft manipulator of her own image, all while catapulting to global stardom.
Grande’s adept use of social media to slam her naysayers, drum up support from her “Arianator” fans and flirt with the gossip machine has created the perception that only she is in the driver’s seat.
After a resounding year of hits that saw industry tracker Billboard name the 25-year-old teen idol its 2018 woman of the year, Grande is set to headline a number of major festivals as part of her global tour, including this weekend’s influential Coachella lineup.
She’s just the fourth solo woman to headline the premier festival in the California desert — and the youngest artist ever to nab the coveted spot.
The feat comes after Grande shattered a number of US chart records and released two albums in six months, feeding the streaming beast with earworms while carving out her own version of the modern female pop star.

A Floridian by birth, the petite Italian-American Grande moved to New York as a teen for a spot on Broadway before finding fame on US kids network Nickelodeon.
She forayed into pop music shortly thereafter, releasing her debut studio album to commercial success in 2013.
A fan of miniskirts rarely seen without her signature ponytail snaking down past her hips, Grande had all the makings of a teen pop droid — batting her eyelashes and pouting her lips while wielding her impressive four-octave range to deliver saccharine lyrics.
But in recent years the superstar has co-opted that traditional ingenue image, adding a heavy dose of sex appeal and a biting demand for control.
In 2015 she issued a feminist manifesto attacking the public appetite for news on her personal life and those of other women.
And while last year’s “Sweetener” album — released in the midst of Grande’s turmoil — felt like an optimistic catharsis, her rapid follow-up “Thank U, Next” saw the star baring but owning her vulnerabilities, declaring this the year of Ariana.

Yet Grande’s celebration of feminine power while simultaneously flaunting her sexuality and pinning her art to her tumultuous love life has drawn criticism that she is propping up the very double standards she seeks to destroy.
Her hit “God is a Woman,” hailed as a coming-of-age empowerment anthem, was also derided as embracing tropes of women catering to male pleasure.
“In 2018, at the height of the #MeToo movement and when women are trying (and succeeding) at rising above our worth being tethered to our sexuality, this is the last thing we need,” wrote Erin Parker for the pop culture magazine Nylon.
Jacqueline Warwick, a scholar of music and gender studies at Canada’s Dalhousie University, agreed that Grande’s feminist bent can “feel a little hollow,” saying the star is “playing into these very conventional ways of looking at women’s bodies — and that seems certainly very well worn.”
But Warwick said Grande also “is articulating desire and speaking very frankly and candidly about her sexual pleasure — that’s certainly refreshing and possibly empowering.”
“It’s not easy for young women artists to be taken seriously and be successful in a pop medium without doing the things that she’s doing,” the academic told AFP.

In recent days Grande — often celebrated for supporting LGBT rights — was also accused of “queerbaiting,” teasing gay fans by suggesting in her new collaboration track “Monopoly” that she is bisexual.
“I think she’s certainly figured out that people are interested in her sex life — that it’s not a bad thing to keep people interested by dropping hints,” Warwick said.
Creating such buzz maintains a steady base keen for Grande’s next bop, which she’s taken to releasing whenever inspiration strikes.
She has voiced irritation with the commodified packaging of pop stars, championing the free release model more associated with hip hop artists.
“My dream has always been to ... put out music in the way that a rapper does,” Grande told Billboard recently.
“It’s just like, ‘Bruh, I just want to ... talk to my fans and sing and write music and drop it the way these boys do.’“


Get swole: Merriam-Webster dictionary bulks up with new entries

Updated 26 min 39 sec ago
0

Get swole: Merriam-Webster dictionary bulks up with new entries

BOSTON: Get swole, prepare a bug-out bag, grab a go-cup and maybe you’ll have a better chance of surviving the omnicide.
Translation: Hit the gym and bulk up, put a bunch of stuff essential for survival in an easy-to-carry bag, grab a drink for the road, and perhaps you’ll live through a man-made disaster that could wipe out the human race.
Swole, bug-out bag, go-cup and omnicide are just a few of the 640 additions to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary added Monday.
Deciding what gets included is a painstaking process involving the Springfield, Massachusetts-based company’s roughly two dozen lexicographers, said Peter Sokolowski, Merriam-Webster’s editor at large.
They scan online versions of newspapers, magazines, academic journals, books and even movie and television scripts until they detect what he calls “a critical mass” of usage that warrants inclusion.
The words are added to the online dictionary first, before some are later added to print updates of the company’s popular Collegiate Dictionary, which according to company spokeswoman Meghan Lunghi, has sold more than 50 million copies since 1898, making it the “best-selling hardcover book after the Bible.”
“So many people use our website as their principal dictionary and we want it to be current,” Sokolowski said. “We want to be as useful as possible.”
The latest additions include mostly new words, or phrases, but also some old words with new meanings or applications.
Take unplug and snowflake, for example. Unplug means to literally tug an electric plug from a wall socket, but now, it also has a more metaphorical meaning, as in to disconnect from social media, he said.
And yes, a snowflake is still a beautiful ice crystal that floats from the sky during winter, but it now also has a usually disparaging meaning of “someone who is overly sensitive,” according to Merriam-Webster’s definition.
Some of the words have been around for decades, but are included in the dictionary because of increased usage.
Omnicide, which means “the destruction of all life,” dates to the Cold War and was used in reference to the threat of nuclear annihilation, but lately it has been used to define the risk of other man-made disasters, primarily climate change.
Popular culture — movies, TV and sports — is a common source of new words, such as buzzy, an adjective that literally means creating a buzz, such as a “buzzy new movie.”
And then there’s EGOT, a noun that refers to an entertainer who has won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar and a Tony. Audrey Hepburn, Marvin Hamlisch, Mel Brooks and Whoopi Goldberg are among the elite group.
Garbage time, those painful final minutes of a game when one team has an insurmountable lead and both teams empty their benches, has been around since 1960, but is on the latest list of new words.
With the rapid advance of science, many new words come from the fields of technology and medicine.
In the Internet age when it’s sometimes difficult to determine whether the vast amounts of information we’re exposed to is accurate, the dictionary is a rock, Sokolowski said.
“We need the dictionary more than ever now that we have information flying at us from all directions,” he said.