Ariana Grande has traded her pink pumps and upbeat, sticky-sweet love songs for thigh-highs and a feminist-inspired, much darker, more mature sound at Madison Square Garden this past Thursday night. Grande is currently strutting her way through the first leg of her Dangerous Women Tour, while promoting her album which was released May 20th, 2016. This new era for Grande, is one that is not afraid to test its limits and assert the values of feminism and female-empowerment in a way that makes a bold statement.
If there was one overall theme of the night, it was most certainly women’s empowerment. Singer and co-writer for Grande, Victoria Monet, opened the show with her sultry dance moves and power anthem, “Do You Like It”. Monet also performed three new songs, giving the crowd a sneak peek from her upcoming album, Life After Love. Following Monet’s opening act, British pop girl group, Little Mix, took the stage, giving the audience a taste of Grande’s themes in her upcoming 90 minute set: empowerment, love and equality. Their opener, “Salute” riled up the crowd, cheering, dancing and singing along, encouraged by this girl-power anthem. Little Mix tamed the crowds fierce roars and ditched the back-up dancers for, “Secret Love Song,” what one of the members describes as “their LGBT anthem” (a song about having to hide love).
The tour’s videographer and photographer, JazzyChann, said women’s empowerment
was certainly a theme for the show and behind the scenes:
“It’s an honor to be one of the women working this tour, as we all get along and come together with one common goal in mind… And that is to have to best show of our lives every night!! …that there are no boundaries that hold us back. There are no situations which we cannot overcome as long as we recognize each other’s talents and abilities.”
Grande’s voice not only projected self-confidence and out-of-this-world whistle tones (that sent the crowd into hysterics every time) but, also a powerful message about the importance of feminism. The “feminist interlude,” which showed Grande in a leotard and leg warmers, amped up the feminist aesthetic as words such as “FEROCIOUS,” “DIVINE,” “FEMALE,” “HUMAN,” and “SEXUAL” flashed across the screen. Throughout the interlude, “NOT ASKING FOR IT” flashed across the screen repeatedly, calling out rape culture, slut-shaming and victim-blaming. The significance of this feminist interlude wasn’t lost amongst fans in the crowd. Dyani, 16, said, “The show showed off Ariana as fierce and powerful, from the countdown to the end where she sang ‘Dangerous Woman’ in a leather dress. At one point, my mom asked who she was when she was on screen during the ‘feminist interlude’ because of how her image went from girly Nickelodeon to dangerous woman.”
Further breaking ground, Grande also expressed her support for the LGBTQIA+ community. The visuals that accompanied “Thinkin’ Bout You,” showed multicolored couples of different sexual orientations intertwined with one another, interestingly enough, as this is a song one would assume a woman to be addressing her male love interest.
Baker, 17, summed up Grande’s intent beautifully:
“…the album as a whole, the title itself, and the feminist interlude all show that she is
promoting women to be more independent and showing that they can be whatever they want to
be, and never need to rely on a man for anything.”