When: Thu., Sept. 24, 7:30 p.m. 2015
ARIANA GRANDE | THURSDAY, SEPT. 24
PNC ARENA, RALEIGH—Earlier this month, Ariana Grande stopped by The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon to place herself in the program's pantheon of big-voiced viral belters. Fallon's show sometimes features a segment called "Musical Impressions Generator," where guests and the host interpret songs through the feigned pipes of other pop megastars. Grande gave "Mary Had a Little Lamb" a Britney Spears pout, added Christina Aguilera moxie to "The Wheels on the Bus" and spun The Weeknd's "Can't Feel My Face" around so it had the kooky heft of Celine Dion.
People lump Grande, a Florida-born veteran of Nickeloldeon shows who sports an omnipresent ponytail and whose calling card is her gently trilling and under-enunciated voice, in with Spears and Aguilera. But there are hints that, beneath her cat ears, there lurks a little Dion, too—that is, someone with a formidable voice who is gleefully unafraid to get a little weird. A recent incident involving an unsuspecting donut and Grande's tongue offers one hint. While in line for sweets at a California fried-dough purveyor, Grande licked a couple of top-shelf offerings, made fun of Americans and cackled as if possessed. While promoting her new fragrance on Good Morning America, she addressed the brouhaha: "As human beings, we all say and do things that we don't mean at all sometimes, and we have to learn from it."
Her non-apology casts light on Grande's other recent endeavors. The video for the gently pulsing "One Last Time"—the contrite lyrics of which echo Grande's Morning statement—is one of the year's strangest pieces of pop detritus. The one-take shot lets viewers accompany Grande to a rooftop as the world passes through the tail of an apocalypse-inducing comet. It's filled with panicking extras and tense shots of agitated law enforcement officials. In the finale, Grande and her boyfriend hug each other "one last time."
With the ever-heating Earth and the constant capitalist creep, the end of the world provides an underpinning for a lot of current pop culture. But Grande's particular way of putting it feels extra unnerving because it drags the viewer into the picture. But maybe she doesn't "mean [it] at all," that we'll all be obliterated soon. In the meantime, lick 'em if you got 'em, kid. With Prince Royce. 7:30 p.m., $29.50–$69.50, 1400 Edwards Mill Road, Raleigh, 919-861-2300, www.thepncarena.com. —Maura Johnston