Ariana Grande took the charts by storm last Friday when she exit her third full-length album, “Dangerous Woman.” The dark, seductive LP fight the number one clues on iTunes in 67 countries and is in contention with Drake’s Views for the number 1 spot on following week’s Billboard 200. Furthermore, the album has actually been well received by critics, who have lauded Ariana’s experiments through doo-wop (“Moonlight”), reggae (“Side to Side”) and the dark waltz-style the the Weeknd used to storm the charts last year (“Dangerous Woman”). After Ariana’s figure on the Billboard Music Awards critical night giving a riveting performance of a stripped down “Dangerous Woman” and also an energized “Into You,” the album is indeed going come succeed.

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However, the album we have actually today is no quite what some had actually expected. Grande’s successful album launch came at a costly hazard that is beginning to become more common v superstar artists. It has something to perform with lead singles. Generally, one artist’s lead solitary sets the tone because that the album and gets fans and others excited come go check out the artist in concert. However, choose the wrong single can make it daunting for an artist to recover, and also can do it confusing for fans who frequently expect a cohesive “message” because that an album “era” (an “era” refers to the time covering the album’s release, single releases and also associated tour). With superstar music videos costing hundreds of thousands or even millions the dollars, the incredibly crucial to choose the right solitary because a successful album start is at risk.

In October the 2015, Ariana Grande exit “Focus” as her very first single for her third album—then titled Moonlight (named after the doo-wop ballad pointed out earlier). The funky tune featured talked vocals native Jamie Foxx; brassy, rhythmic production; and also verses belted high in Grande’s vocal register. The music video, which was released top top the exact same day as the single release, featured a lavender-haired Grande, who—clearly motivated by Japanese Manga and high-tech culture—spent most of the video clip dancing in monochrome rooms, circles and boxes, as if the singer herself to be some sort of futuristic object. The chorus lyric, “Focus ~ above me” to be aggressive, cartoonish and also catchy together hell. “Focus” blasted top top the Billboard warm 100 at number 7: a debut that made Grande the very first ever artist to have actually his or her an initial three command singles (“My Way,” “Problem,” and “Focus”) debut in the height 10. This to be no simple feat, and on a micro-level (song sales), this would have made a good start to the album.

However, there to be a huge issue v “Focus” in terms of setting the tone because that the next album. The problem with “Focus,” i beg your pardon free-fell indigenous the charts weeks after ~ its release, was that it was easily regarded together re-hashed material. That was viewed as neither 1.) an exciting foray into a brand-new musical side of Grande, which would be supposed for a new solo project or 2.) surrounding by other elements (performances, music videos) the would record interest. More specifically the worries were the following:

The music video was a extension of the aesthetic native Grande’s ahead album, “My Everything.” take a look in ~ this tho from “Break Free” and an alert that Grande is made to look otherworldly and also futuristic. The fantastical arc is ongoing in “Focus” in i beg your pardon Grande sports her dyed hair and is severely dwarfed by numerous of the spaces she dances in. Here’s Grande in “Break Free”:


Versus Grande’s cartoonish appearance because that “Focus”:


“Focus” was a problem. It’s fine because that an artist to continue down a similar path musically or stylistically—after all, most of united state love Grande for her incredible collection of pipes and also catchy dance numbers. However, when you release basically the exact same song twice v the same types of visuals, it renders it difficult to know why pan would desire to buy one album.

For this reasons, Grande and team made decision to start fresh in January, announcing a “new” lead single, “Dangerous Woman” and transforming the title of the album from Moonlight to Dangerous Woman as well. Furthermore, Grande eliminated “Focus” native the American variation of the album entirely, leaving “Focus” as an albumless release (albeit one with 486 million views on Youtube). Grande slashed months of marketing hype around her album, and replaced it with a brand-new campaign that would ideal the wrong of “Focus” and start Dangerous woman on the right foot. She and her team assaulted both facets that do “Focus” a weak lead both in a musical and also marketing sense. This is how:

The tune “Dangerous Woman” provides us with a completely different and exciting music direction for Grande: arena rock. The manufacturing is so subtle, so barely-there, the the song never ever strays native Grande’s vocal prowess. Grande mirrors off she trained head voice in the verses and also belts and soars into her muscular upper register. Throughout the critical break, Grande reaches for the same notes together the solo guitar, bristling versus the sound waves through her Mariah Carey-esque horn register. When she sings “I’m locked and also loaded” in the opened verse, Grande is preparing to shoot off into the stratosphere v that remarkable voice. In short, Grande gives us pipes and also class—the points we love around her—and does that in a new genre-blend that we didn’t expect.Grande’s music videos because that “Dangerous Woman” space stripped-down and make she the center of attention. Instead of being boxed into various shapes choose in “Focus”, Grande’s existence is the contrary of the level that commercial; in the first video, Grande wears her naturally brunette hair down and wears a solitary outfit throughout. The 2nd is a stunning acapella video which reiterates Grande’s skills and reaffirms her frequently displaced humor; it’s nice to watch Grande laughing and playing air etc to her very own song while showing off her vocals in a one-take video.

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For Grande, it seems that the strategy to axe “Focus” worked. Of course, Grande is a superstar with significant financial backing native Republic records. Her ability to nix an entire marketing plan is one exclusively easily accessible to highly established and well-funded artists. Rihanna freshly did the same thing, scrapping “FourFive Seconds,” “Bitch much better Have mine Money” and “American Oxygen” for “Work” which far better showcased the nontraditional root of her latest album, Anti. With smaller sized artists comes after Spotify and major record brand for issues with inequality, it will be amazing to see exactly how this type of relocate stratifies the market. Through stars favor Grande and Rihanna may be to deal with their failure (and costly ones in ~ that), that will most likely make it even tougher for low-budget artists to break into the mainstream.