Ariana Grande's Sweetener Decoded: "Soulmate" Pete Davidson, Mac Miller and Her Touching Manchester Tribute

The Grammy-winning songstress takes fans through her romance, breakup and anxieties in her fourth studio album.

By Samantha Schnurr Dec 07, 2018 3:03 PMTags
Watch: Ariana Grande's "Sweetener" Lyrics Decoded

Ariana Grande is waking up to the sweet sound of two Grammy nominations.

The songstress scored two nods for the 2019 Grammys—one for "Best Pop Solo Performance" for "God Is a Woman" and another for "Best Pop Vocal Album" for Sweetener. Needless to say, it's been an eventful year for the star and it's ending on a high note. 

It was just four months ago that Grande's fourth studio album, Sweetener, was officially released. At the time, it was clear her heart was full and that she was embracing the light and counting her blessings. In the midst of her headline-making romance with Pete Davidson over the summer, the album was stuffed with references to her then-fiancé  and the course of their relationship. 

But, that wasn't all. The star left no stone unturned as she also serenaded fans with verses seemingly alluding to her late ex Mac Miller. Beyond her love life, the star ventured deep within with tracks about her anxiety, her pride in her success ("It feels so good to be so young and have this fun and be successful") and rising up in the aftermath of the 2017 Manchester Bombing. Overall, she wanted to take her music somewhere she hadn't gone before. 

"I wanted desperately to go somewhere new," she tweeted ahead of the album drop. "I told y'all i wanted to go somewhere new. i went somewhere new ... i feel at home here."

So, what did Grande sing about in her new home? We broke it all down:

Ariana Grande & Pete Davidson: Romance Rewind

One thing was quite clear: Ariana was a woman in love. From "R.E.M." to "Sweetener," the star chronicled falling in love with Davidson, the man who came through her life "like the sweetener you are."

"Excuse me, um, I love you/I know that's not the way to start a conversation, trouble/I watch them other girls when they come and bug you/But I felt like I knew you, so I just wanted to hug you," she sings on "R.E.M.," seemingly a reference to the fast feelings she had for the comedian following a years-long crush

"But you are not a picture, I can't cut you up and hide you/I'll get you out my mind, mhm, I tried to/But I just want to stand and yell/I will never dare to tell/Think I heard some wedding bells, shh, keep it to yourself/Is this real? (Is this real?)," she continues with a musical hat tip to the fact they both wanted to marry each other as soon as they met

"I'm tryna turn two single people into a couple/What's your next month like? Tell me what you're up to," the song continues, a possible nod to their breakups with their respective exes shortly before they started dating. 

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In "Blazed," she further crooned about the luck of meeting her man. 

"I can't believe that you are here, I can't believe it's happening/What are the odds that you'd appear?/The universe so vast to me/Seven billion is on the Earth/Could've been anywhere, but you're here with me/Should I play lotto/What's it worth?/I must be on, so clear to me," the song goes. 

She very clearly laid out her love for Davidson in the track she named for him and wrote shortly after they started hanging out. "I just made it and I sent it to him and I didn't know what to call it, so I just called it 'Pete.' It was going to be that or like, 'This Is About Pete Davidson,'" she told Jimmy Fallon. "I was like why not just be direct?"

"Music lasts forever," she tweeted to fans of the song. "It'll outlive any tattoo, any memory, any anything, even myself so i want my love for him and how i feel to be a part of that." On the track, she again referenced her gratitude to the Universe as she dropped a sweet label for him. 

"Universe must have my back/Fell from the sky into my lap/And I know you know that you're my soulmate and all that/I'm like ooh, ooh/My whole life got me ready for you."

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The star also seemingly addressed what she previously described as her "toxic" relationship with Miller, who she dated for years, on the track, "Better Off."

From the sound of it, she alluded to his heart not being fully in the romance and sang that she's "better off" being single and without him. 

"Steering clear of any headaches to start/And if we're being honest/I'd rather your body than half of your heart/Or jealous-ridden comments/That come when you let in them feelings that I don't want," the song goes. 

"I'm better off without him/I'm better off being a wild one/On the road a lot, had to keep it a thousand/So that I'm better off not being around ya."

Initially, the star wasn't going to include the song on the new album. As she explained on Twitter, "[because] at first i was nervous about like....... it coming true. if that makes sense. more honest than i was ready to be w myself at the time (its [very] old). but it's beautiful and has always been one of my favs and i'm very happy she's on there."

Ariana Grande Suffered PTSD After Manchester Bombing: "Time Is the Biggest Thing"

Grande also got personal in regard to her own struggles with anxiety and her fears following the Manchester Arena bombing in May 2017.

"Feel my blood runnin', swear the sky's fallin'/How do I know if this shit's fabricated?/Time goes by and I can't control my mind/Don't know what else to try, but you tell me every time/Just keep breathin' and breathin' and breathin' and breathin'" she sings. 

"It's about anxiety," she told Fallon, describing moments when she felt like she couldn't get a full breath. "I was having lots of [anxiety attacks]." 

Further, on the last track of the album, "Get Well Soon," she chronicled her inner dialogue. 

"They say my system is overloaded/(Girl, what's wrong with you? Come back down)/I'm too much in my head, did you notice?/(Girl, what's wrong with you? Come back down)/My body's here on Earth, but I'm floating/(Girl, what's wrong with you? Come back down)/Disconnected, so sometimes, I feel frozen and alone," she sings as backup voices respond to her. 

"This is for everybody/Babe, you gotta take care of your body/Ain't no time to deny it, that is why we talking about it/Yeah, we talking about it/So deal with it, don't try to get by it/Ain't no time to deny it/So we had to sit down and just write it," Grande continues in what sounds like a reference to her worries. 

"My life is so controlled by the what if's/(Girl, what's wrong with you? Come back down)/Is there anybody else whose mind does this, mmm?"

"It's all the voices in my head talking to one another," Grande previously explained to Elle of the song. 

"Isss ab my anxiety," she tweeted to a fan who asked her about the song. "I felt like i was floating for like 3 months last year & not in a nice way. like i outside my body? was v scary and i couldn't breathe well. so it's ab that. & lots of voices in my head singin. i hope it comforts ppl who hear it pls."

The songstress has previously talked openly about the anxiety and PTSD she suffered in the wake of the Manchester Bombing. 

She further paid tribute to the victims with a 40-second moment of silence at the end of the song, making the track's total running time five minutes and 22 seconds—the date of the tragedy. 

(Originally published Aug. 17, 2018 at 8:19 a.m. PST)