A year ago, Ariana Grande and the Grammys were in a bit of a weird spot. Grande, whose album Thank U, Next was released mere days before the 2019 ceremony, decided to bow out of her scheduled performance, tweeting that “my creativity & self expression was stifled” by producer Ken Ehrlich. (She won her first Grammy anyway.)
This year, though, Grande’s making up for lost time. When she took the stage at the 2020 ceremony, she didn’t just sing a single song, or even two. The pop superstar rolled through an intimate “Imagine,” a statement-making “7 Rings” (including an introductory bit of “My Favorite Things,” a song it interpolates), and a sweetly simple “Thank U, Next” to close things out.
With lots of choreo, an outfit swap, and even a change of scenery, Ari made his time count — and shrank the grand Sweetener tour down to its most emotional parts.
First up was a minimalist take on “Imagine” sung in front of a glowing blue and purple orb, not unlike the ones that adorned the stage backdrop on her tour. With a little help from a lush string section (including a harp), the delicate Thank U, Next cut set a typical awards-show scene, one Grande kept up with her long gloves and a dark dress. The strings also lent “My Favorite Things” some additional drama — and then it was playtime.
A quick costume change into a silky, poofy robe led into a bedroom set change where a pink-hued slumber party, like the one in the song’s beloved video, featured tons and tons of choreo. Ari got loose, did a split (!), rolled into a proper strut, and punctuated things with a money toss. Naturally.
An a cappella “Thank U, Next” saw Ari changing the lyrics a bit (“I be thinking about my dad / ‘Cause he’s really awesome”); the whole thing found a very soft landing with string accompaniment and a tender ending right on the bed, putting her ring (one of the seven, obviously) back into its box, and a smile.
Grande dressed like a gray cloud emoji on the red carpet and even found time for a quick outfit change as well. She’s up for Album of the Year and Record of the Year tonight as well.
Find all of MTV News’s 2020 Grammys coverage right here.