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

One thing is clear after this past month: Ariana Grande is BACK. Personally, I thought she was pulling a Rihanna and we were never going to get music from her again, only a million REM Beauty launches from now until the end of time. Despite her triumphant return, I found it difficult to be fully excited about her new album given everything about her in the media recently. Given how much she’s been everywhere lately, it’s forced me to consider: how DO I feel about Ariana Grande?

Let me set the scene for you: I’ve seen her live twice, and both were the highlight of my preteen years. I was fully obsessed with her music and everything she did, going as far back to her small role in the Broadway musical, 13. Then slowly, as with all celebrities, she started doing things that were… slightly questionable, to say the least.

Real ones remember the OG scandal where she was caught licking a donut and saying she hated America (which in hindsight is actually the funniest thing I’ve ever heard). This snowballed into some accusations of cultural appropriation, such as the clips of her talking with a “blaccent” and her hand tattoo that was supposed to say “7 rings” but actually said “shichirin”, which is a kind of Japanese grill. And then of course, there are the homewrecker allegations. I’m sure we all are familiar with the rumors that she started dating her Wicked co-star Ethan Slater, causing him to leave his wife and newborn child. 

So you can see why it feels difficult to fully enjoy her music. However, with the release of her new album “Eternal Sunshine”, it’s clear she’s trying to rewrite the narrative. From accounts that her own marriage wasn’t working to songs like “True Story” where she calls out all the cameras and the lies, Ariana claims that the homewrecker narrative is another example of the media trying to tear a woman down.

I think that “separate the art from the artist” is kind of a stupid mindset. That being said, I think that it’s also dangerous to get caught up in parasocial relationships when we know that most celebrities aren’t the models for good behavior. So do I really think that Ariana is a victim of the media trying to tear her down for no reason? No. But I also don’t think she deserves all of the hate coming her way. 

If anything, it seems like she’s truly starting to be in a good place of self-love and acceptance. She’s finally accomplished her lifelong dream of starring in Wicked, which I can’t wait to see. And “Eternal Sunshine” might just be her best album yet. I can’t say I’m rushing to call myself Ariana’s number one fan anymore, but I do truly hope that she’s growing and learning from all of the things she’s done in the past. And I’m definitely streaming “bye”, which is my personal song of the year. 

Kelly is a second-year Communications major at UCLA from Pasadena, California. During her free time, she can usually be found lost in a book, grabbing a coffee, or obsessing over the latest reality TV show.