Why Are Ariana Grande’s Fans Boycotting ‘7 Rings’?

After the death of ex-boyfriend Mac Miller and calling off her engagement to SNL‘s Pete Davidson, Ariana Grande called last year the “worst of my life.” 2018 was also a year of self-realization and growth for the pint-sized pop star. Grande turned to songwriting to cope, using her own life experiences as inspiration. The result would be Thank U, Next, Grande’s second studio album in six months.

Ariana Grande
Ariana Grande | Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

Thank U, Next had already spawned two hit songs by the time it was released. Following the release of Thank U, Next‘s third single, “Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored,” Grande’s fans devised a plan to make history by saying, “thank u, next” to “7 Rings.”

Ariana Grande said she wrote and recorded multiple versions of ‘Thank U, Next’ 

“Thank U, Next” reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 and became an instant breakup anthem when it dropped in January. The song, in which Grande calls out each of her famous exes by name, is about learning to love yourself after a breakup. In a recent interview, Grande revealed the song almost had a much different meaning. 

Grande explained she wrote and recorded three different versions of the song, so that she would have a song no matter what happened between her and Davidson. “In my relationship by the time things were, like, up and down and on and off and so I didn’t know what was gonna happen,” the 25-year-old pop star explained. “And then we got back together and so I had to make a different version of it. And then we broke up again and so we ended up going with that version.”

“There’s a version where I was getting married. There’s a version where I’m not getting married. There’s a version with nothing, we’re not talking about anything,” Grande said.

Ariana’s fans defend music video for ‘Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored’

Not unlike the music video for “7 Rings,” the music video for “Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored” is already drawing controversy. While “7 Rings” was met with accusations of cultural appropriation, Grande is charged with queerbaiting in “Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored.” Although it seems to put to rest a theory that the song is about convincing Big Sean to dump girlfriend Jhen√© Aiko, not everyone can agree on the meaning of the music video.  

In the video, Grande is seen following a guy (Riverdale’s Charles Melton) and his girlfriend through a nightclub, shooting lustful looks in their direction. The ending packs a plot twist, however, with Grande turning away from Melton’s character and stealing his girlfriend instead. The screen cuts to black as Grande and the girlfriend lean in for a kiss. 

According to TV Tropes, queerbaiting is “a media work’s attempt to lure an LGBT fanbase with either false hints of representation or stereotyped, non-essential LGBT characters.” Because Grande identifies as straight, many have been quick to accuse her of queerbaiting. Others have jumped to Grande’s defense, however, noting that the songs on Thank U, Next were written with a common theme in mind.

Grande’s fans have been quick to point out that the girlfriend in the video is styled to look like Grande; she and Grande are wearing the exact same clothes and both have the same tattoo of a moon behind their ear. In this interpretation, fans believe the theme is self-love, and the girlfriend character is representative of Grande. Business Insider points out that the song “Thank U, Next” also had a similar theme and lyrics, lending credence to the notion that Grande intended for the plot of the video to be a metaphor for self-love. 

Why did Ariana Grande’s fans boycott ‘7 Rings’?

After “Thank U, Next” and “7 Rings” topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart, Grande’s fans didn’t want Thank U, Next‘s streak to end with “Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored.” Rather than waiting with baited breath, fans took matters into their own hands, devising a plan to drive Grande’s third single into the number one spot as well. To do so, they would need to boycott “7 Rings” to give the third single better better odds at topping the charts. 

When Grande heard about the fans’ plan, she was clearly amused. Grande tweeted, “y’all are so insane and funny and i love u,” she wrote. “nothings funnier than ‘boycott seven rings’ …. i can’t lmao. whatever’s meant to be will be, babies i ain’t goin nowhere #thankunext.”

This zany story has a happy ending for Grande and fans alike. The plan succeeded, and Grande is the first artist in 55 years to occupy the top three spots on the Billboard Hot 100 at the same time. The last artist or band to do so was The Beatles in 1964.