Ariana Grande is older, wiser and edgier with her third album Dangerous Woman. Encompassing an already packed career, she explores all sides of her sound, from dance queen to lounge singer. Over her three albums, she has shown off incredible range and maturity, starting with her incredibly solid debut Yours Truly and following up a strong introduction with a risk-taking sophomore effort My Everything. In honor of her most recent release, we asked our readers to vote for the 10 best Ariana Grande songs. Here are the results.
Babyface co-write the girl group-esque soul number from Grande's debut. The song is one of the first she recorded for her debut and the singer even has a tiny heart tattooed on her foot to recognize its importance in her career.
Well before Grande even became a teen queen on Nickelodeon, she was a Broadway baby, starring in 13: The Musical. For her third album, she teamed up with the musical's director Jason Robert Brown who penned "Jason's Song (Gave It Away)," a cabaret-pop tune starring a piano, some snaps and Grande's jazziest vocals yet. Unfortunately, the song didn't make the proper album's final cut but is available on the Japanese special edition LP.
"Why Try" is Grande's version of Beyoncé's "XO" and even co-written by the same person: Ryan Tedder. The soft, languid power ballad builds slowly before she reaches Sia levels of booming self-empowerment, embracing her dark side in the lyrics and unleashing a chill-inducing belt towards the end.
"Break Free" was a significant moment in the careers of both Grande and producer Zedd. Not only did it solidify Zedd as an EDM superstar by giving him his third multi-platinum hit, but it also showed another side of Grande who held her own and refused to get overpowered by the German DJ's spastic electronic riffs.
The then-Nickelodeon star broke through on the pop charts in a major way with the booming, romantic R&B song "The Way." It was the lead single from her debut album Yours Truly and gave a perfect introduction to Grande's belting and refreshingly youthful perspective on older sounds. Mac Miller assisted the track, offering a playful verse referring to Grande as both a "princess" and a "freak," encapsulating two sides of herself she explores in her albums to come.
One of Grande's biggest talents is making retro-pop sound very modern instead of like an awkward pop anachronism. With a verse from Iggy Azalea, "Problem" is a horn-laden, soulful and joyous slice of hip-pop that's as much influenced by Mariah Carey's "Heartbreaker" as it is by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars' "Uptown Funk."
Grande was a huge factor in the Weeknd's crossover from drugged-out alt-R&B king to a pop prince. His feature on the sultry, flirty duet "Love Me Harder" not only exposed him to a younger audience but was his first successful foray into Top 40 pop, which he would master with one of the Grande collab's co-writers Max Martin on "Can't Feel My Face" just months later.
The modern doo-wop banger "Boyfriend Material" was originally intended for Grande's debut album but didn't end up making the cut. As a thank you to her fans a year after releasing Yours Truly, the pop star ended up posting the track online for all to hear. The song received a second life when bought by K-pop group f(x) who kept the sound but changed its name (to "No More") and shifted its subject matter from a song about finding the perfect beau to a requiem for a boy-obsessed best friend, according to Billboard.
One of the few collaborations Grande did with then-boyfriend Big Sean, the pair throw it back with Nineties R&B and neo-soul influences seeping into the piano ballad. The singer channels her lower register for a smokier sound as the typically turnt Sean slows things down a bit for one of his most passionate features yet.
Grande went bigger than ever with the first single off her third album, Dangerous Woman. Above a slinky guitar, she belts like she's both James Bond and the Bond Girl, giving her vampiest vocal performance on her edgiest song yet. Plus, the LP's title track set a good tone for the New Ariana, reintroducing the pop diva as a more devilish presence than her angelic voice can make listeners assume.