Ahead of accepting her Woman of the Year award at the 13th annual Women in Music event, Ariana Grande spoke with Billboard’s Jason Lipshutz about what the award means to her, what her most meaningful achievement of 2018 is and what her advice to aspiring young musicians is.
Grande tells Billboard that while she is very appreciative of being named Woman of the Year, she is just excited to be in the company of “so many incredible women” she admires.
Asked what the most meaningful professional achievement of this past year has been for her, the singer names “Thank U, Next” becoming her first No. 1 on the Hot 100. “I wrote it with my friends while we were just tipsy in the studio and I was going through a pretty rough period and writing this album with them, with so many people I love, has really been a huge helping factor in my healing process and just feeling better,” she says.
“It’s been a really beautiful experience,” Grande continues. “It happened when it was meant to in my opinion. I think it makes sense that it was this song, just because of what it means, and I think it’s really easy to write songs that are just sexy and fun and kind of about nothing, but I’m happy that it was a song that meant so much more to me that I made with my girls.”
Grande also weighs in on her video smashing YouTube records, as she notes that while she anticipated that the video would do well, she never expected it to be as successful as it was. Speaking of how the video’s concept came together, she reveals that she was playing the video’s director Hannah Lux Davis the song, and she instantly saw the Burn Book in her mind.
“I was like, you know what would be really cool? If the beginning was me putting the boys in the Burn Book, but writing positive things about them, cause that’s kind of what this feels like,” she says. “This feels like a diary entry.”
Finally, Grande is asked if she has any words of wisdom for young, aspiring musicians, to which she emphasizes that people should always listen to themselves. “There’s a little voice in there that always tells you certain things, and in this industry, people will come in and try to skew you one way or another, or style you a certain way, or make you try a sound that maybe isn’t exactly what you want to do or maybe pick a single you don’t love,” she says.
“You should always say fuck it and listen to that voice instead,” she continues, “Because I’ve done both and I know how it feels, so for me, I would much rather just do what feels the most honest…I know what it feels like to put out a song that I love and have it debut at maybe 10, and then have a song that I don’t love debut at two, and the feeling is what matters most…Keep connected to what made you want to be an artist in the first place.”
You can watch the full video above, and watch her WIM acceptance speech and performance below.