How Shangela Snagged a Surprise Appearance on Ariana Grande's Thank U, Next Album

The RuPaul's Drag Race star talks to E! News about how the collaboration on the song "NASA" came about.

By Corinne Heller, Spencer Lubitz Feb 08, 2019 3:43 PMTags
Ariana Grande, D.J. 'Shangela' PierceKristina Bumphrey/Starpix/Shutterstock Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Turner

Guess who?

On Friday at midnight, Ariana Grande released her anticipated album Thank U, Next, which contains several previously unheard tracks such as "NASA," which features none other than RuPaul's Drag Race's Shangela! The star provides a spoken word introduction to the song, which is about needing space (get it, NASA?) from a man.

To be a part of someone as iconic as Ariana Grande's new album is an amazing feeling," Shangela told E! News. "It was like one of those 'Wow, did that really happen?' things."

How did Shangela end up on the track? Thank Grande's brother, Frankie Grande.

" I was having dinner with my good friend Frankie Grande—he and I have been friends for a long time—and Ariana texted," Shangela said. "She was like, 'Brother, come to the studio.' And he said, 'I have Shangela with me, is that OK?' And she said, 'I love Shangela.' We had met earlier in the year. So we go into the studio and she's like, 'I want to play some songs from new album.' And I'm like, 'Yaas! Halleloo! Go in!' and the songs were amazing because she's Ariana Grande. And one of the songs, she was like, 'I'm still working on the intro for it, don't listen to that part, just listen to the song.'"

"The song ['NASA'] was amazing, and when the song ended, she was like, 'What do you think?'" Shangela continued. "And I was like, 'Oh girl, I live! I love it, and it's amazing! I'm already thinking of how I'm going to perform it for my drag number, when I do my version.' And she looked at me said, 'Your version?' And I said, 'I'm just going to put a fun intro on it for drag, and I'm going to be in a spacesuit with like space-Titties and I'm going to come out in a moon man suit and I'm going to lift the mask and say, 'This is one small step for woman, one giant leap for womankind.' And she was like, 'Oh my God! I love that!'"

Ariana Grande's Thank U, Next Album Decoded: Pete Davidson, Mac Miller and More

Grande then pulled out her cell phone and asked Shangela to "say it again on voice notes."

"So I did the whole thing again, and then next thing you know, she calls me a month or so later and was like, 'How do you want to be credited on the album?'" Shangela said. "And I was like, 'Oh my God! You're kidding me, right?!' Because you never know if this things are going to really happen, but it really happened and I was like, oh my gosh, I live! Hallello!" 

Shangela added, "Listen, I'm a fan, no, I'm a stan of Ariana Grande. I am so just honored that she would be open to my contribution. It's so cool. She's one of the coolest people ever, she's so down to earth, and real. You can tell she has a real passion for what she does in the studio. She wants to be authentic, every song that she writes or is a part of is from her heart and that's what I got being in the studio with her."

Watch: Ariana Grande Talks Working With Kris Jenner on "Thank U, Next"

Thank U, Next, Grande's fifth studio album, also contains the title single, which was released in November and was followed by a music video inspired by Mean Girls and other movies, which featured celebs like Kris Jenner. The album also contains other breakup tracks such as "Ghostin,'" which is believed to be about how Grande felt following the sudden and tragic death of her ex-boyfriend Mac Miller while she was engaged to Pete Davidson.

Also on Friday, Grande released a new music video for another track, "Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I'm Bored" starring Riverdale's Charles Melton.

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