What Do Ariana Grande and The Beatles Have in Common?
It’s hard to imagine any artist could end up matching The Beatles on the music charts, but perhaps it was inevitable as the music industry evolves. After all, it’s been almost 50 years since The Beatles broke up. A lot of records everyone thought wouldn’t be broken in those days have since been broken in numerous categories.
Still, no one would have guessed Ariana Grande would be the one to match The Beatles in the number of singles on Billboard’s 100 at once.
She managed to this month, something requiring careful music analysis on how it happened and whether Grande’s legacy will last 50 years.
Three top singles on Billboard may not happen again soon
Here’s what the fuss is all about: Grande has the top three singles on Billboard, something not done since 1964 with The Beatles. However, let’s put this in perspective. While The Beatles held the first three top spots on Billboard between March and April 1964, they also filled all five spots a number of weeks later.
The latter scenario is still unmatched, proving The Beatles are still the giant pillar in the history of pop/rock music. Even so, you can’t ignore the serious impact Ariana Grande just made matching The Beatles’ 55-year record.
What’s the zeitgeist behind her matching this and her legacy in the music industry? To properly analyze, we might have to do a little comparisons of Grande with The Beatles to see how she’s impacting 21st century pop culture.
Grande’s songs tap into the psyche of the Millennial mind
Perhaps the secret to why Grande suddenly matched The Beatles is in how her songs resemble relational therapy sessions for teens and 20-somethings.
Just look at the lyrics of the top three songs she charted. They all deal with breakups (as nods to Pete Davidson) and done so in a transparent, conversational way like talking to a close friend. The titles alone are written like a personal text rather than typical song titles: 7 Rings, Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored, and Thank u, next.
Add to this Grande’s appealing voice and vocal range. In combination, she’s managed to tap into the Millennial mind better than any other contemporary artist. Considering no other artist has been able to do something similar in 55 years is more than a little astonishing.
Similarly, The Beatles managed to tap into the deepest feelings of teens in 1964 still reeling from the JFK assassination and changing times.
The British Invasion vs. an American understanding her audience
The British Invasion that occurred in American music from the 1960s was basically an antidote from the problems and growing pains America was going through then. It provided an escape from the realities of falling apart as a nation.
You could say Grande provides a similar escape without her being from the U.K. or other country. Her relationship with Pete Davidson provided a lot of fascination for her fans last summer. Their breakup brought even more obsession, including how she would handle it mentally through her music.
When you look at what’s going in our country now with a constant barrage of depressing political news, Grande hits a bullseye on the feelings of our youngest generation. For many, this is more than worthy of a Grammy, although not until next year.
What will Grande’s musical legacy be?
We already know Grande is a lot more talented than she sometimes lets on. She’s been seen doing fantastic musical impersonations on The Tonight Show and can write most of her own songs.
Most pop stars are forgotten a few years after hitting their peak. In a time when things are forgotten faster, we can’t even guess if Grande will still be played 55 years from now like The Beatles.
Regardless, when you see Rolling Stone’s analysis of Thank you, next as the only song in pop history to promote real self-love, we might be surprised to see an entire satellite music channel devoted to Grande someday. We might say then she knew her young audience better than even The Beatles understood their audience generations earlier.