The 25-year-old pop star nabbed Billboard's Woman of the Year title and opens up to the magazine about her very public relationships with famous men and how they've inspired her latest music.
“This is how I meet people -- I can’t just, like, meet someone at a bar," she says of her famous exes, who include Pete Davidson, Mac Miller, Big Sean and Ricky Alvarez. "I live fast and full-out, and I make mistakes, and I learn from them and I’m grateful no matter what happens.”
“I can’t even say ‘Good morning’ to anyone without crying,” she tells the magazine, before revealing the bright side of her tough year. “I guess there’s not much I’m afraid of anymore. When life tries you with such serious sh*t so many times, your priorities change. I don’t give a sh*t. I just want to be happy and healthy -- one day -- and make music.”
And make music she has, something she believes she "manifested" into reality when she was 6 years old. Her latest song, "Thank U, Next," is a self-love anthem disguised as a breakup track.
“When I felt myself saying, '’Cause her name is Ari,’ I knew it was a special line, but part of me was like, ‘Oh, my God, that’s kind of corny,’” says Grande of a standout line in the song. “But the other part of me was like, ‘That’s beautiful and I need to keep it in.’ I know that once I put something into a song, then it’s real.”
Grande dropped the surprise track, which will be the eponymous song on her upcoming album, on a Saturday night out of pure need.
"It is so exciting to see something be received well. That’s a beautiful thing. But it’s even more beautiful to be honest and just do something," she says. “To drop a record on a Saturday night because you feel like it, and because your heart’s going to explode if you don’t -- to take back your narrative.”
“I can’t believe it but, like, so can," she said of the positive response to the track. "It’s me and my besties tipsy off champagne -- and me with a broken heart -- just letting it out and having fun. I love this more than any other song I’ve ever put out.”
For Grande, "Thank U, Next" is the first step in a new era; one where she controls her message.
“I don’t want to do what people tell me to do, I don’t want to conform to the pop star agenda. I want to do it on my own terms from now on," she says. "If I want to tour two albums at once, I’m going to tour two albums at once. If I want to drop a third album while I’m on tour [in 2019], I’ll do that too! Please."
"I want to be able to do what is authentic and honest and natural," she adds. "It’s the only way that I’ve been able to survive.”