For a lesson in superstarization, see Ariana Grande’s 2015. There was the world tour, the fragrance, even a little scandal. “I’m still such a newbie, because this is only really my second year out of the gate,” Grande tells me by phone.
It’s true. After five years of acting on Nickelodeon sitcoms (Victorious and its spinoff, Sam & Cat), Grande blew up the charts with My Everything in 2014—and had more Top 10 singles than any artist that year—earning the nickname Mini Mariah, thanks to her four-octave range. But it wasn’t until 2015 that the 22-year-old Florida native proved she’s a full-blown franchise in her own right.
She spent most of the year on the road with her 90-show Honeymoon tour, running from February right through December (Mimi’s first world tour had only seven performances). In one killer month—performing at 13 sold-out stadiums—Grande grossed a whopping $7.8 million (final tour revenues weren’t available at press time). “Singing my brains out for an hour and a half every [show] made me paranoid about my vocal health,” says Grande, her mildly congested voice the only trace of a cold that recently forced a doctor visit. “He told me my cords have never looked healthier and was like, ‘You’re a bulletproof bitch.’”
So is her selling power. This September, Grande made like the A-listers and launched an all-about-her fragrance. With its pink glass bottle, pompom trinket and raspberry and marshmallow notes, the spritz, called Ari, is every bit as sweet as the star. “My fans call me Ari, so I wanted it to really feel like something between me and them.” That babes-first approach paid off, with $30,000 worth of the scent sold in just one hour at its launch at the Macy’s flagship in New York.
Grande’s wicked humour makes her all the more accessible. She did a spot-on Céline Dion parody on Jimmy Fallon and broke into a spontaneous Jim Carrey impersonation during our interview. Yet the cuteness is balanced with a PG-13 dose of tabloid behaviour in the form of Doughnutgate, the firestorm she faced after licking treats on display at a California shop this summer.
Amid all the madness, Grande managed to hit the studio and record Moonlight (no confirmed release date yet, sadly). Its lead single “Focus” dropped late October and cracked Billboard’s Top 10 immediately, ending her knockout year on a high note. How will she up her game in 2016? Another tour and “hopefully more fragrance,” she says. “I want to make 80,000 different ones and just smell like a dream for the rest of my life.”
One thing she didn’t mention? Her surprise holiday album, Christmas and Chill, released on December 18 to the delight of Arianators everywhere.