Ariana Grande's Roller Coaster 2018: From a Whirlwind Romance to 'Thank U, Next'

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Ariana Grande
Dimitrios Kambouris/MG18 / NBCUniversal / Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for MTV

Ariana Grande's 2018 was certainly a memorable one.

From turning 25 to the release of her fourth studio album, Sweetener, there's no doubt that the singer's year was filled with exciting moments. But at the same time, the Boca Raton, Florida, native also had her fair share of heartbreak.

Now, ET's breaking down all of Grande's ups, downs, and everything in between!

Taking a Stand

When the March for Our Lives protest took place in Washington, D.C., in March, Grande performed a beautiful rendition of "Be Alright" for the crowd, marking one of her first public appearances in months.

Meanwhile, all across the country, people stepped out in protest of gun violence and mass shootings following the tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida, that left 17 people dead in February.

And Grande continued to be vocal about gun violence this year after she witnessed tragedy herself when there was a bombing at her concert in Manchester, England, in 2017 that left 22 people dead. "When she found out fans of hers had died, she was so sad," Grande's manager, Scooter Braun, explained on the Big Questions With Cal Fussman podcast. "I mean, she cried for days. There was nothing that could stop us. She felt every pain. Every face that they announced, every name -- she wore it on her sleeve, like, every bit of emotion, because that's who she is."


"No Tears Left to Cry"

On April 20, Grande dropped "No Tears Left to Cry" with a psychedelic new music video, promoting it as the lead track off her fourth studio album. It was the first single since June 2017's "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," released in support of her One Love Manchester benefit show.

Months later, in November 2018, Grande tweeted, "Remember when I was like hey I have no tears left to cry and the universe was like HAAAAAAAAA b***h u thought." The tweet was seemingly poking fun at her roller coaster of a year.

 

Mac Miller Split

Grande performed "No Tears Left to Cry" for the first time during Kygo's set at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, California, in April. Backstage in the VIP area, she and rapper Mac Miller (real name: Malcolm McCormick) got cute and cozy, posing for PDA-filled pics. Fans had no idea at the time, however, that this would mark one of their last public appearances together as a couple.

Ariana Grande and Mac Miller at Coachella 2018
Instagram

ET confirmed in early May that although Grande and Miller loved each other dearly, they decided to part ways and just be friends due to their busy work schedules. The split came nearly two years after the artists first went public with their relationship in 2016.

"Hi! This is one of my best friends in the whole world and favorite people on the planet Malcolm McCormick," Grande shared via Instagram Stories a few days later. "I respect and adore him endlessly and am grateful to have him in my life in any form, at all times regardless of how our relationship changes or what the universe holds for each of us!"

Best Dressed at the Met Gala

While plenty of celebs put their own unique spin on the theme of the evening -- Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination -- we think it's safe to say Grande did it best! The singer stunned in a white gown emulating the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, designed by Vera Wang, who accompanied her on the red carpet.

Ariana Grande at 2018 Met Gala
Jason Kempin/Getty Images

“I'm feeling great -- this is my first Met," Grande told ET on the red carpet on May 7. "I'm very excited and I'm so happy to be with Vera! And to be wearing the Sistine Chapel back wall by Michelangelo and it's the Last Judgment and I’m excited because it’s beautiful and Vera's the best."

"Ariana wanted a reference to religion, but she didn't want to be literal -- hence the beautiful headpiece she's wearing," added Wang. "It's a total riff off religion, but in the most stylish, fashion-forward way. And, she's young and beautiful and can wear anything!"


New Love Interest

By the middle of May, Grande had already moved past her breakup with Miller with comedian Pete Davidson. A source told ET at the time that the two were "casually dating," and that Grande was "in a very good place" and "very happy right now."

An additional source noted that Grande and Davidson were spotted hanging out together at a Saturday Night Live after-party on May 13, about a week before the news broke. And on May 30, they were Instagram official!

Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for American Express

Grande + Davidson = Engaged!

Following plenty of flirty back-and-forth action on social media, Grande and Davidson attended Kanye West and Kid Cudi's Kids See Ghosts album listening party together in June. That same month, the SNL star put a ring on it, proposing to Grande with a stunning sparkler that cost $93,000 and was commissioned by New York City jeweler Greg Yuna.

"Ariana has talked about marriage since she was 15," a source told ET. "During her teen years, she was always very dreamy about a wedding and she used to call friends and talk about one day having that one special person."

One day after news broke, Grande and Davidson celebrated with a late-night visit to the Happiest Place on Earth, Disneyland! They were joined by the singer's mother, Joan, and brother, Frankie.

New Digs and a New Pig

Following their engagement news, Grande and Davidson moved into a lavish apartment in New York City in June. A few months later, the two expanded the members of their household by adopting a pet pig, adorably named Piggy Smallz, which Davidson got a portrait of tattooed on the left side of his body.

"[They're] excited for the next chapter," a source told ET at the time.


25th Birthday

In the midst of all her newfound happiness with Davidson, the month of June was even sweeter for Grande when she turned another year older on the 26th. At the time, she was newly engaged, about to release an album and launching a new perfume called "Cloud."

"Happy birthday to the most precious angel on earth!" Davidson wrote on Instagram in honor of her special day. "You’re my favorite person that ever existed :) i love you sm."

"One more for the queen," he added. "Words can't express what a real f**king treasure this one is." 

Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson birthday
Instagram

Cue the Collaborations

If all that wasn't enough on Grande's plate, the pop star (somehow) found time to hit the recording studio with her friends.

Grande teamed up with Nicki Minaj for two smash hits this summer -- the rapper joined her on "The Light Is Coming," and Grande returned the favor by lending her vocals to "Bed."

She also recorded a catchy dance track with Troye Sivan, "Dance to This," which was accompanied by a High School Musical-inspired music video. 

Sweetener Release

Aug. 17 was another great day for Grande because it was when she released her highly anticipated Sweetener album. It was well-received by music critics, Grande's loyal fan base of Arianators and, of course, Davidson.

His top five favorite tracks? '"God Is a Woman' because that s**t f**ks hard," he shared in a video posted to Grande's Instagram Stories. "Seriously, that s**t bangs. That slaps hard."

"That and then my song, which is called 'Pete [Davidson],' which is pretty sick because that's me," he added. "And then I'll go 'R.E.M.' and then I would go 'Sweetener' because it's just very happy and very fun. And 'Better Off' because it's sick…They're all sick."

Queen of the VMAs 

Days later, Grande was still on cloud nine. She and Davidson couldn't seem to contain their happiness while stepping out to the MTV Video Music Awards in New York City together. Packing on plenty of PDA for the photographers, the event marked their first red carpet appearance as a couple.

Getty Images

Grande also had an amazing night inside the actual awards show. She received major applause for enlisting 50 diverse female dancers for her powerful "God Is a Woman" performance (the second single off Sweetener).

She later took home the prestigious Best Pop award for her "No Tears Left to Cry" music video, giving a shout-out to Davidson at the end of her acceptance speech.

"Thank you to my family who's here today, my friends, and everyone, I love you," she said. "Pete Davidson. Thanks for existing. Love you."
 

Mac Miller's Tragic Death

Sadly, everything came to a halt for Grande on Sept. 7 when news broke that her ex-boyfriend, Mac Miller, died at the age of 26 from an apparent overdose at his San Fernando Valley home.

"Although the two ended their relationship, Ariana always shared a deep connection with Mac and wanted nothing but the best for him," a source told ET at the time. "Ariana is very upset."

The L.A. County Coroner's Office released its report on the rapper's death two months later, revealing that he died from "mixed drug toxicity," noting fentanyl, cocaine and alcohol. His death was categorized as an accident.

Grande has been mourning his loss ever since. She's posted a few pics of him on social media and has briefly addressed his death in interviews. She also took to Twitter to share with her fans that she was having a "tough month."

"Can I pls have one OK day. just one. pls. I'm so tired pls." she began. "I'm trying to get my work done and get back to normal and it's hard and I'm human and tired."

Shen then retweeted a recent message that said "everything will be OK," adding, "j f**king k."

Grande and Davidson Call It Quits

News then broke on Oct. 14 that Grande and Davidson parted ways and called off their engagement after five months together. Multiple outlets reported that the amicable breakup reportedly happened that weekend and that both individuals were convinced that their relationship just didn't have what it takes to go the distance.

A source told ET at the time that Grande was the one who pulled the plug on the relationship. "Ariana made the final decision," the source said. "It was time to realize this wasn't the right time for them and Pete is incredibly heartbroken. Pete is still so in love with her. He wanted his whole world to revolve around her but she was emotionally unavailable."

"He realizes she was at her limit with pressure from everyone and everything around her," added the source. "There were days she just wanted to run away from the world just to get some peace and quiet and peace of mind. Pete had to give her that space out of love."

An additional source told ET that Grande returned her engagement ring to Davidson following the breakup, but kept Piggy Smallz.

A Wicked-ly Awesome Performance

In October, the pop star took the stage for the first time since her split from Davidson to perform "The Wizard and I" for NBC's Very Wicked Halloween special honoring the Broadway musical Wicked.

"Honored to be included in this celebration of 15 years of my favorite musical of all time 💚," she wrote on Instagram. "Wouldn't miss it for the whole universe #wicked15."

 

"Thank U, Next"

🎶 'Cause her name is Ari... and I'm so good with that 🎶

Grande proved to the world (and to herself!) that another breakup wasn't going to get her down. Released on Nov. 3 as the lead single off her upcoming fifth album of the same name, "Thank U, Next" was an instant "smash," just as her lyrics expected it would be.

Throughout the post-breakup anthem, Grande shouts out famous exes Davidson, Miller and Ricky Alvarez, while thanking them for everything they've taught her about love, patience and pain. And she took it one step further in the official music video, writing secret messages to her former lovers in a "Burn Book," in scenes inspired by Mean Girls.

The video, which also pays homage to Legally Blonde, Bring It On and 13 Going On 30, is arguably Grande's best music video yet.

 

Docu-Series Drop

Grande totally could have ended her year with a bang with the release of "Thank U, Next," but she surprised her fans with another huge reveal... her brand new YouTube Original docu-series, Ariana Grande: Dangerous Woman Diaries.

"We want to bring you as closely into our world as possible," Grande said in the trailer for the four-part series, which features exclusive, never-before-seen footage from some of the biggest moments of her career. "I want to share this with you guys. I'm so excited to bring you into the world of the Dangerous Woman Diaries."

View this post on Instagram

🖤

A post shared by Ariana Grande (@arianagrande) on

Parts two and three have already launched on Grande's YouTube channel, with three and four premiering Dec. 13 and Dec. 20, respectively.

Billboard's Woman of the Year

When Grande landed the coveted title in December, she spoke to the outlet about her whirlwind 2018. "I can't even say 'Good morning' to anyone without crying," she admitted. "I guess there's not much I'm afraid of anymore."

"When life tries you with such serious s**t so many times, your priorities change," she added. "I don't give a s**t. I just want to be happy and healthy -- one day -- and make music."

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🖤 @billboard

A post shared by Ariana Grande (@arianagrande) on

Grande accepted the award on Dec. 6 in New York City, tearfully addressing her personal life during her acceptance speech. "This is really special. I want to say that I find it interesting that this has been one of the best years in my career and one of, like, the worst years in my life," she exclaimed. "I'm just saying that because I feel like a lot of people would look at someone in my position right now, Woman of the Year, an artist that could be at her peak, reaching her, you know, whatever, and think, 'She's really got her s**t together, she's really on it, she has got it all.'"

"I do, but as far as my personal life goes, I really have no idea what the f**k I am doing," she continued. "So yeah, it's been a very conflicting one. I just want to say if you're someone out there who has no idea what this next chapter is going to bring, you're not alone in that."

GRAMMY Nominations

One day after her emotional speech, Grande woke up to two nominations for the 61st annual awards show, airing Feb. 10 on CBS. "God Is a Woman" received a nomination for Best Pop Solo Performance, while Sweetener was recognized for Best Pop Vocal Album.

Coming in 2019...

Grande is already entering the new year with a No. 1 song on the Billboard Hot 100 under her belt, and is ecstatic that "Thank U, Next" marked the first step in this new version of herself, one where she's in complete control.

"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 told Billboard. "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. I want to be able to do what is authentic and honest and natural. It's the only way that I've been able to survive."

The brunette beauty will also hit the road for her Sweetener World Tour in March, with her first show scheduled on the eighth of that month in Albany, New York. The North American leg of the tour is expected to run through June. 

We think it's safe to say that Arianators everywhere are grateful for everything Grande gifted us with this year, but we still can't wait to see what else she has in store for her fans in 2019. As the standout star from her "Thank U, Next" video, Kris Jenner, would say:

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