Singer Ariana Grande co-writes all of her songs these days. But that wasn’t always the case. As a young artist, she often found herself on tracks with others that didn’t mean as much to her. Discover why her second collaboration with The Weeknd (Abel Tesfaye) was so much more personal than her first.
Ariana Grande and The Weeknd on ‘Love Me Harder’
Grande released her second studio album, My Everything, in September 2014. It was preceded by three singles, all with featured artists such as Iggy Azalea and Nicki Minaj. Following the album’s debut, Grande released her fourth single off it, “Love Me Harder,” featuring then up-and-coming singer The Weeknd.
The track was co-written by The Weeknd, who took a more generic pop song and made it unique. (Grande is not credited as a songwriter). “Love Me Harder” charted on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 7. The artists later performed the song together on Saturday Night Live and at the American Music Awards.
Their second song together is ‘Off the Table’
In 2020, Grande released her sixth studio album, Positions. The R&B record features a few collaborations, unlike her previous album, Thank U, Next. Among them is “Off the Table,” which Grande co-wrote with The Weeknd. The track sees Grande struggling to move past a lost love to something new.
“He played the role of the perfect, dream reaction to a fear like that being expressed,” Grande told Zach Sang of The Weeknd’s verse. She explains that the opportunity to work together came about after the two artists “caught up for a while and talked about life and everything” in recent months.
Grande sent The Weeknd the song to write on
The Weeknd sings about being “number two to someone you can’t hold anymore.” Many took this to mean he’s standing in for Grande’s fiance, Dalton Gomez, following her ex-boyfriend Mac Miller’s death. “He, I think, wrote his verse from a perspective of a person that would be filling certain shoes,” Grande explained.
There’s also a nod to “Love Me Harder” on The Weeknd’s verse. “I wrote a verse and a chorus, and I sent it over to Abel, and I said, ‘Is this OK?’ And he was like, ‘Yeah, I’m going to write the second verse,'” Grande said. “It was a very intimate moment and writing process between two friends.” She added, “I think he did a great, phenomenal job writing that.”
She says it’s one of her most personal songs
Grande admitted to Sang that while “Off the Table” is written “from a fear place,” they are representative of thoughts she’s had about whether or not she would find love again. When the host asked her whether it was her most personal song she’s ever written, the singer said it was “different” than many others.
“It’s hard to top ‘Thank U, Next’ because it’s so much more straightforward,” Grande said. “But I think it’s different because I’m kind of the only one in there. It’s just me and Abel who wrote it. So maybe? But I don’t think so. I don’t know they all have so much of me in them,” she continued, “I think they all kind of fit in a puzzle somehow.”