The performer's pop prowess shone through as she took the Staples Center stage for her first Grammy Awards performance since 2015. Ariana, who was introduced by Ben Platt, performed a medley of "imagine," "7 rings" and "thank u, next."
An orchestra accompanied the flawless Ariana, who looked the part of a princess in an emerald green ball gown that she removed to reveal a flirty lingerie ensemble inspired by the "7 rings" music video. With her father in the audience, Ariana switched up the "thank u, next" lyrics "One day I'll walk down the aisle / Holding hands with my mama I'll be thanking my dad / 'Cause she grew from the drama," to "I'll be thanking my dad, 'cause he is really awesome."
At the end of her performance, Ari removed a metaphorical diamond ring and turned off her phone. Thank you next, indeed.
The Recording Academy honored Ariana in a major way ahead of this year's ceremony—nominating thank u, next for Album of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Album, her track "7 Rings" for Record of the Year and Best Pop Solo Performance, and her and Social House's collab "Boyfriend" for Best Pop Duo/Group Performance.
Given Ariana's notoriously strained relationship with the Recording Academy, her decision to perform surprised her legion of devoted fans. Just last year, the 26-year-old canceled her performance over a disagreement with producers and former Grammys CEO Neil Portnow regarding which song she would sing.
When Portnow described Ariana is being unable to "pull something together" on such short notice, the pop star shot back online.
"i've kept my mouth shut but now you're lying about me," she tweeted at the time. "i can pull together a performance over night and you know that, Ken. it was when my creativity & self expression was stifled by you, that i decided not to attend."
Time certainly healed Ariana's wounds, but the Recording Academy faced increased scrutiny ahead of tonight's telecast after ousted CEO Deborah Dugan accused the organization of discrimination and rigging the Grammys voting process. According to the Recording Academy, Dugan was placed on administrative leave amid allegations of workplace bullying and an internal investigation is ongoing.