Ariana Grande’s album title track turns three-years-old.
I have a soft spot for the Dangerous Woman era. It remains one of my favorite pop records in recent years because it’s got an array of bumpin’ bops and vibey mid-tempos and, unlike Thank U, Next, it pre-dates the traumatic events Ariana’s life would soon encounter. Those harrowing experiences were ultimately filtered into TU,N. Her latest record is vividly visual in that sense, but Dangerous Woman allows the listener to use their imagination far more. It was innocent time in the pop star’s life – her main focus was writing badass tunes with Macy Gray and Lil Wayne and wearing cute animal ears.
You may recall her first official single wasn’t actually “Dangerous Woman.” Ariana initially released the funk-jazz-tinged, Jamie Foxx-assisted single, “Focus.” She even released a high-budget music video for the track, but despite it debuting at No. 7 on the Hot 100 with 113,000 downloads in its first week ( v v respectable), the brassy banger didn’t make the impact Ariana had hoped for. The Max Martin-produced track was ultimately scrapped and placed only on the Japanese version of Dangerous Woman.
Dangerous Woman was originally intended to be called Moonlight (it’s still the opening number). You can hear references to the title throughout the album, but in the eleventh hour Ariana decided on naming it Dangerous Woman after intimately connecting with the song. According to one of the track’s co-writers, Ross Golan, the DW was originally written with Carrie Underwood in mind, and was considered for Alicia Keys or Rihanna, but ultimately got passed along to Ariana. Speaking of famous faces… did you know Charlie Puth is low-key featured on “Dangerous Woman?” If you listen closely, he’s beatboxing in the background, though he’s not credited on the song. What’s hard to miss is Ariana’s larger than life vocals and Max Martin’s slinky, understated production. Pop perfection!
“This song is about an empowered woman who meets another person that brings out a different side of her,” Grande said of it at time of its release. “It’s her decision to put her fears aside and explore these new feelings. It’s about letting someone into your life in an intimate and vulnerable way and not letting that take away from your independence and strength.”
I have a feeling 2019 Ariana would describe it far different. In the last couple of years, Ariana has dealt with the tragedy at her Manchester show, the dissolution of her engagement to Pete Davidson and the death of ex-boyfriend Mac Miller. Though she’s been through it, Ariana continues to put on a brave face and venture into a world that could flip at any given moment.
It’s also a timely anthem. The self-empowering ode to swift femininity pre-dates the #MeToo era, but the tables have turned. No longer are people looking away when men degrade, unjustly receive more more money in the workplace, or sexually harass/abuse women. A dangerous woman isn’t literally a female who lives on the edge. It’s anyone who doesn’t need permission… to make a decision… to test their limits.
When you encounter a circumstance that shakes your confidence… when the world feels like it’s against you… when a man says he can grab you by the pussy… dare to be more than a bad girl underneath like that. Be dangerous.