Ariana Grande is perhaps the quintessential pop star of the last half of the 2010s, capturing the era's spirit and style. Emerging in 2013 with the hit single "The Way," Grande initially appeared to be the heir to the throne of Mariah Carey, due in part to her powerhouse vocals. With its Babyface production, her debut Yours Truly underscored her debt to '90s R&B, but Grande quickly incorporated hip-hop and EDM into her music. "Problem," a 2014 smash duet with Iggy Azalea, was the first indication of her development, an evolution underscored by the hits "Bang Bang" and "Love Me Harder," which featured Jessie J & Nicki Minaj and the Weeknd, respectively. Grande maintained her popularity with 2016's Dangerous Woman, then really hit her stride with 2018's Sweetener and its swift sequel Thank U, Next, whose title track became her first number one pop hit. That achievement was quickly equaled by "7 Rings," a glitzy anthem for the Instagram age that consolidated her stardom and artistry.
A native of Boca Raton, Florida, where she was born in 1993 to graphic designer Edward Butera and Joan Grande (the CEO of Hose-McCann Communications), Grande began singing and acting at an early age, appearing in local theater productions. In 2008, when she was 15 years old, she landed the role of Charlotte in the Broadway production of 13; her performance was well-received, winning a National Youth Theatre Association Award. Following an appearance in the 2010 Desmond Child-written musical Cuba Libre, Grande was cast as Cat Valentine in the Nickelodeon television program Victorious. The show ran until 2012, at which time Grande's Cat Valentine was spun off into a show called Sam & Cat, which also starred Jennette McCurdy of iCarly.
Victorious: Music from the Hit TV ShowAs she kept herself busy with television, Grande began to pursue a musical career. She frequently made appearances at sporting events and with symphonies, and she made her first appearances on record via the soundtracks to Victorious. In 2011, she released the single "Put Your Hearts Up," which was cut during sessions for a teen-oriented pop album; she later disowned the single due to its kiddie feel. Grande felt much more comfortable with "The Way," her 2013 single featuring Mac Miller. This signaled a mature direction and audiences responded, taking it to the Top Ten in the U.S., where it was eventually certified triple platinum. It was the first single from her 2013 debut, Yours Truly, which also featured hits in "Baby I" and "Right There."
Christmas KissesAt the end of the year she released a seasonal EP called Christmas Kisses, but her real efforts went into the recording of her second album, My Everything. Preceded by the single "Problem" -- a song that featured a guest spot from Iggy Azalea, the "it girl" of the summer of 2014; it peaked at two on the U.S. charts and was certified double platinum -- the album featured a host of different producers, including Max Martin, Shellback, Ryan Tedder, and Benny Blanco. It was released at the end of August 2014, hitting number one on charts across the globe. Subsequent singles featured assists by Zedd ("Break Free"), Jessie J and Nicki Minaj ("Bang Bang"), and the Weeknd ("Love Me Harder"). At one point in 2014, three of her songs were in the Billboard Top Ten at the same time, a feat matched only be Adele. By the time fifth single "One Last Time" charted in early 2015, My Everything had sold nearly 600,000 copies.
Christmas & ChillAs that album's cycle wound down, Grande guest-starred on Ryan Murphy's campy slasher series Scream Queens and she also recorded another holiday EP, Christmas & Chill. In October 2015, Grande released the single "Focus," which debuted at number seven on the Hot 100 and was certified platinum the following January.