On Friday (May 20), Ariana Grande's third album Dangerous Woman will be officially released and, if the material released so far hasn't indicated it, let one of the people in her tight-knit circle confirm it: This one's personal.
Backstage after Ariana's "Vevo Presents" franchise showcase in New York's gorgeous Angel Orensanz Foundation in the Lower East Side, Frankie Grande curls up on a couch and tones down his theatrical speaking voice that viewers have come to love on shows like Big Brother 16, Worst.Post.Ever and currently on Amazon's Style Code Live. But what he might lack in grandiosity tonight, he makes up for in passion he exhibits while talking about the evolution his little sis has made with her latest record.
With less than 48 hours until the album is released, the 33-year-old talked to Fuse about the changes Ariana went through from 2014's My Everything to today, their close family dynamic, what songs are important to them and more.
FUSE: Everyone knows you and Ariana are close, and she's said she feels like she's about to give birth with this album. Are you having a sympathetic pregnancy?
Frankie Grande: She said she's in labor right now, which is exactly how I would describe it: She's birthing a baby. She's put in so much effort and time, and her soul, her heart, her sweat, her tears are all right there in this album. In a way that's relatable to her, it's like motherhood: She's created this beautiful, beautiful being that's now about to be thrust into the world and then she has no control over it. Once it's out there, it's just out there.
She's really excited, though. It's been just such a positive lead-up to the album and the people are so hungry for and so receptive of the music. Tonight even, I mean, everyone knows every word to every rap, and the song ["Side To Side"] came out yesterday. It's like, "What?!?" The whole world is standing up, which I think is amazing, you know? She's really being acknowledged as an artist on this album, more so than the other two, and it's really great.
Do you get to hear demos or do you give Ariana feedback on her music?
Oh, I hear everything. I give feedback all the time, for sure, in as much as a constructive way as humanly possible. I represent a very specific demographic of her fan base as well. I'm her brother, but I'm also a fan. So, literally, if she wants to know what the gays are going to think, I'm right there for her. I'm like, "Well, this is what I would say if I was in a club..." and she hears me, you know? And that's why it's so cool that the Future song ["Everyday"] speaks to me so deeply because I don't know who he is other than through her. I have no idea who he is.
Really? You haven't heard his songs or about his relationship with Ciara?
No clue. No idea. Nope, never heard of him before. But this song speaks to me in such an amazing way because of the music. It's her and her passion and her involvement in every single step that makes me discover someone like Future. I didn't know who he was.
Initially, this album was titled Moonlight and its lead single was "Focus." Something then changed and the album title and lead single were "Dangerous Woman." What happened in between this period?
You can see in her interviews and the stuff she's put out publicly: Her stance on feminism, and standing up for women around the world that are underrepresented and have been for years—this is a problem that is not going away at all. You know, we lost our grandfather almost two years ago—crazy—and it's me, my mom, my sister, and my grandmother, and we're all strong women. Clearly, I'm not a woman, but I've been raised by my mom and I'm a very staunch feminist as well.
“She had no compromising with every song. Every lyric has her in it.”
But something just clicked with one of the interview questions and she fired back, "No, I'm not anyone's property. I'm not anyone's ex, I'm not anyone's future wife, I'm not anyone's future girlfriend, I'm Ariana Grande." I think literally that moment she was like, "What the fuck is happening?! We need to educate the world right now." And I think it pushed her in a different direction with her album where she was allowing that inner, dangerous woman to come out. It's also a celebration of everyone's dangerous woman. There's a dangerous woman inside of you and you can choose to let her out. You can choose to not let her out. You can choose to keep her in your bedroom. That's the point—feminism means you get to choose. And that's what the whole album is: Her making very strong decisions.
And that's what Dangerous Woman means to you?
Dangerous Woman means there's a "Dangerous Woman" in all of us and we have a choice whether or not let her out.
I like that. And the other aspects of the album past the title and single—the other songs, the imagery, the subject matter—is that all encompassing of this idea?
It's testament to let this album, head to toe, represent Ariana. She had no compromising with every song. Every lyric has her in it.
It's so cool to see you to see you speak so passionately about her work.
We're so close and everything is passion. I'm so passionate about her career, she's so passionate about my career. I'm passionate about her... pink jacket! I'm passionate about her dogs, her Snapchat, her Instagram. We're so passionate about each other because we are literally such a tight-knit family. Me, Mommy, Nonna, and Ariana are like glue. We're like mesh.
From an outsider looking in, we sometimes wonder if it's all real or fake or for show at times.
It's all true—it's not TV magic, it's real! [Laughs.] We really do love each other. I cried during [her performance of] "Everyday." Like, what is happening? Like, Future's singing with Ariana and I'm bawling. Bawling!
Really? That song?
There's something about the chord progression that is very emotional. When you hear "Thinkin Bout You" on the album, you'll understand. That one is my favorite. It's makes me sob. It makes me weep. It's so beautiful. It's the music, the lyrics, her voice, all together, in this ridiculously-emotional-it-hits-everything-at-once kind of way for me. I think it will for other people, too.
We know which song you connect with the most. Which one is most personal to Ariana?
What do you think will mark this album a success overall?
I think the artistry of it. I think that when people see what a musically elevated and artistic album, but at the same time commercially viable this album is, I think it will set the world on fire.
Watch below for a classic, pre-Dangerous Woman Ariana interview where she told us about balancing her professional and family life: