Ariana Grande has said she wants to “bring light” to our lives with her new album in her first interview since last year’s Manchester attack.
She didn’t address the bombing directly but appeared to get emotional when US TV host Jimmy Fallon discussed it.
The pop star did announce her new album Sweetener, which is due this summer.
She said it is “about bringing light to a situation, or to someone’s life, or somebody else who brings light to your life, or sweetening the situation”.
Speaking on Fallon’s NBC talk show, the 24-year-old singer did not say any more about the inspirations behind it.
It was the host who addressed the events of last May, when 22 people died in a bombing after her concert at Manchester Arena.
She returned to the city to stage the One Love concert less than two weeks later.
Explaining that he hadn’t seen the singer since that time, Fallon said: “I know it’s tough for everybody, tough for fans and tough for you, and I know you haven’t done any interviews, and I understand that.
“I just wanted to say thank you so much for coming on the show and for being strong and for entertaining and for showing up and going back to Manchester and doing a benefit. I thought that was awesome of you. I just think you’re so strong and so cool.”
Ariana looked like she was welling up and just replied: “Thanks. Thank you.”
Fallon then quoted part of a message the singer wrote in the days after the attack: “We won’t let hate win. Our response to this violence must be to come closer together, to help each other, to love more, to sing louder, and to live more kindly and generously than we did before.”
Fallon added: “Thank you, pal.”
Ariana and Manchester
Ian Youngs, arts & entertainment reporter
Ariana Grande wants to carry on being a “normal” pop star – on Fallon’s show, she performed her new single, she took part in zany sketches, she talked about her new album to cheers from the excitable crowd.
And she is a brilliant pop star. But she will always be inextricably linked with the events of 22 May 2017. She is also only human.
I don’t think the reason she didn’t talk directly about Manchester is because she wants to distance herself from it – if that was the case, she would have asked Fallon not to mention it either. His comments would have been planned in advance.
Perhaps having him talk about it was a way of addressing the subject without having to discuss it herself. From the look on her face when he made his comments, perhaps it is just still too painful.
Six other things we learned from Ariana Grande’s interview
This is a new chapter
Ariana said she didn’t enjoy the process of making the face masks that are seen in the video for No Tears Left To Cry, the first single from the new album.
“They wrap you up and they bandage you for like 30 or 40 minutes and you can’t see. All of your senses are completely cut off,” she said.
But she did add the meaning was “very deep – taking off one chapter and putting on another”.
The album’s coming in July or August
She said she’s going to do “something special” on the 20th of every month until the album comes out. The first “something” is performing at the Billboard Music Awards on 20 May.
She then said there are only three 20ths until the release – putting the big day perhaps at 20 July, and certainly before 19 August.
We know who she’s worked with
Namely Pharrell and Nas, and songwriters and producers Ilya and Savan Kotecha.
God is a woman
That, at least, is the title of one of her songs.
And Ariana’s grandmother prefers it to No Tears Left To Cry.
“She loves God Is A Woman,” Ariana said. “I’ll ask her, ‘Hey Nonna, what do you think of my single? Do you like No Tears Left To Cry?’ She was like, ‘I love it… but you know Ariana, can we listen to God Is A Woman again?'”
She also revealed other song titles including The Light Is Coming (a religious theme, perhaps?), REM and Raindrops.
A family link with the past
Raindrops is “kind of like an intro” to the album, which is “a cover of a small part of a song from the ’50s”. That song is An Angel Cried by The Four Seasons.
“We were really close to finishing the album and I woke up and I had it in my head,” she said.
She went to check who wrote it. “This is so crazy, y’all are going to think I’m lying – but my grandfather’s best friend, who I grew up hanging out with, Charlie Calello, wrote it with Bob Gaudio from the Four Seasons, and that gave me goosebumps.”
There are hidden messages in the video
She suggested there are clues to the album’s other song titles in the No Tears Left To Cry video.
“We hid a tracklist in the video but it’s not in order,” she revealed.