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Iconic Moments of Ariana Grande’s Career

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at DePaul chapter.

Ariana Grande has been in the spotlight for the last decade, getting her big break on the Nickelodeon show, Victorious. She has been signed with Republic Records since 2011 after executives discovered YouTube videos of her singing. After her time on Victorious, she released her debut album, Yours Truly, in 2013. Its lead single, “The Way,” charted in the top 10 of the U.S. Billboard 200 chart. 

Since her debut as a music artist, all of her albums have been certified platinum. She’s won a Grammy, nine VMAs, and three American Music Awards. With being in the spotlight for the last decade, Grande has had her fair share of success and iconic moments. 

And what about it? 

At the 2016 Billboard Music Awards, Ariana Grande arrived at the show’s red carpet looking as beautiful as always. The paparazzi were all screaming at her to look a certain way, and it got to a point where it frustrated the singer. A paparazzo had shouted, “You’re not looking!” So, she uttered the infamous line, “And what about it.” The moment struck the internet and it became a meme that people still use to this day. 

Celebrity impressions on Fallon 

During her September 2015 appearance on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, she did incredible musical impressions of Celine Dion, Britney Spears, and especially Christina Aguilera. Fallon has a segment on his show called “Wheel of Musical Impressions” where singers have to imitate another famous singer while singing a random song. What took away the show was Grande’s amazing impressions, specifically the one for Christina Aguilera. 

She wins Artist of the Year 

During the 2016 American Music Awards, she wins the show’s Artist of the Year award. She won this award due to the release of her third album, Dangerous Woman. The album consisted of hits like “Into You” and “Side to Side.” 

Her multiple number ones 

Earlier last year, Grande entered the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 with her single “7 Rings.” This was only three weeks after her hit single, “Thank U, Next,” left the top spot on Hot 100’s summit. Both of these songs make Grande the fifth artist to have multiple songs debut at number one. She also becomes the first solo artist, and second overall to have three singles ranked at number one at the same time. “7 Rings” was number one, “Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored” debuted at number two, and finally “Thank U, Next” followed up at number three. 


During the summer of 2015, Grande is shown in a doughnut shop up to no good. She’s shown on film licking doughnuts and laughing about it. When a worker brought out a tray of doughnuts, Grande exclaims, “What the f–k is that. I hate Americans. I hate America.” 

Days after the video was released to the public, the singer officially apologizes via Twitter and YouTube. She tweets, “I am EXTREMELY proud to be an American. What I said in a private moment…was taken out of context and I am sorry for not using more discretion with my choice of words.” 

The doughnut shop owner even tried to press charges against the singer. Grande was also banned from the shop for life, despite the shop tripling in revenue after the incident. Not only were the police involved, but the Health Department was involved as well. Despite the bad press and being dropped from a couple of gigs, the “7 Rings” singer wasn’t charged for the incident. The doughnut shop owner decided not to press charges after all. It was revealed that the shop doesn’t usually leave trays of doughnuts out in the open as shown in the video. 

Thank U, Next 

In November 2018, Grande dropped the hit single, “Thank U, Next,” which was a tribute to her exes. The song broke Spotify’s record for the most streams in one day by a female artist. The single broke another Spotify record by getting more than 100 million streams in only 11 days. 

The corresponding music video was a clear nod to the iconic 2004 film, Mean Girls. There were many celebrity cameos including Kris Jenner, Daniella Monet, Troye Sivan, Matt Bennett, Elizabeth Gillies, and many more. 

Her engagement to Pete Davidson 

The couple began dating in May 2018, after both had recently split from long-term relationships. It’s possible that they met in September 2014 when Grande was a musical guest on Saturday Night Live, which Davidson was a part of. Almost two years later in March 2016, the “God is a Woman” singer hosted Saturday Night Live and the pair interacted publicly for the first time. Grande states that they never exchanged phone numbers, but she did have the “biggest crush in the whole world on him.” 

In the spring of 2018, they linked up and had their first “date”. Both credit Grande’s manager, Scooter Braun, for hooking them up, as Grande told Braun to “tell him [Davidson] I said hi.” Davidson then personally texted Grande, and the rest is history. The “date” was Davidson in sweats and a T-shirt in Grande’s apartment with mutual friends; she had just come back from the Met Gala, so she was still in her Sistine Chapel gown. Grande’s split with Mac Miller was confirmed in May 2018 with the singer posting to her Instagram story about the split. The pair grew apart, but they remained friends up until his death later that year. Within the same week, it was confirmed that Davidson split with his girlfriend of two years; this was shortly after Grande and Davidson hung out at an SNL after-party. 

Two days after Davidson confirmed his split from his girlfriend, he and Grande officially began dating. In early June, after a mere two-or-so weeks of dating, Grande was publicly seen with an engagement ring. It wasn’t officially reported by news outlets until about a week later. The news broke when the couple told other people while attending Robert Pattinson’s birthday party, that they were engaged. Davidson made it Instagram official a few days after the news broke. He confirmed it on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon five days after his Instagram post. 

The couple officially broke up in October 2018 after five months of dating. 


Grande made a special appearance at Coachella during DJ Kygo’s set in April 2018. A year later, she came back to headline the festival; she was the youngest artist ever to headline Coachella. She’s only the fourth woman to do so. Her set included ‘NSYNC, Nicki Minaj, and P. Diddy. With P. Diddy, she helped pay tribute to Biggie and Nipsey Hussle, and she paid tribute to Mac Miller; even WALL-E from the Pixar film of the same name made a cameo. According to Variety, Grande walked away with an eight million dollar paycheck. 

Her Collaboration with Lady Gaga 

This year has been crazy, to say the least, but it was more mind-blowing when Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande released their duet. The song, “Rain on Me,” debuted at number one, which would be Gaga’s fifth and Grande’s fourth song to reach the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In the first week of its release, the song rose to number one after getting 31.4 million streams, 11.1 listeners on the radio, and 72,000 paid digital downloads. 

“I’m Ariana Grande” 

In her behind-the-scenes Honeymoon Diaries, Grande makes a statement about how journalists approach her dating life: “…”I’m not Big Sean’s ex. I’m not Niall [Horan]’s ‘possible new girl.’ I’m Ariana Grande — and if that’s not interesting enough, don’t talk to me.” 

Once her statement hit headlines, she tweeted about the sexist standards in society. She states, “I am tired of living in a world where women are mostly referred to as a man’s past, present or future.” 

Grande is known for calling out sexist double standards. In another instance, she was on a radio interview with Power FM and the interviewer had asked what item she would use one last time, whether it’d be her phone or her makeup. She claps back asking, “Is this what men think girls have trouble choosing between?” Grande continues by saying that she goes hours without her phone and she doesn’t use it during dinner because she likes to live in the moment. 

The interviewer went on to say that other women should “listen and learn.” Grande quickly says, “Boys, learn.” 


Ariana Grande has spent the last decade building herself up to be the iconic pop star that she is now. Every album she’s released has hit number one and almost every single tops the charts. Ariana Grande is an icon and she has cemented her spot in music history.

Chinyere (sha-near-ruh), a graduate student at DePaul University, has been writing for Her Campus DePaul since October 2019. She enjoys anything journalism-related and indulges in pop culture commentary and celebrity news.