The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History…Song #250: Successful by Ariana Grande (KTOM)

This list of songs is inspired by lists published by radio station KEXP-FM from Seattle in 2010, as well as the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part I will faithfully countdown from their lists, starting at Song #500 and going until I reach Song #1. When you see the song title listed as something like: Song #XXX (KEXP)….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. Song XXX (RS) means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: Song #xxx (KTOM), it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In any case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, just so everyone is aware, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Here is the story behind today’s song. Enjoy.

KTOM: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.

Song #250: Successful by Ariana Grande.

Every twenty fifth song goes to one of my girls thus, we time travel over sixty years from yesterday’s Elvis post, all the way to the modern-day song stylings of Sophie’s favourite singer, Ariana Grande. Sophie is a big fan of many female singers such as Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato but, by far and away, Sophie’s favourite performer is Ariana Grande. Sophie likes to sing as she putters around in her room so, the rest of us in the family are quite familiar with Ariana Grande’s song catalogue because that is where Sophie so often draws her musical inspiration from. So, let’s take a few moments and get to know one of modern music’s most talented and successful stars, Ariana Grande.

As you read this, Ariana Grande is in her mid-twenties. Despite her, relatively young age, she has been in the media spotlight most of her life. Prior to being a Pop star, Ariana Grande first gained fame as a television star on the Nickelodeon shows, “Victorious” and then, on that show’s spin-off, “Sam and Cat”. On both shows, Ariana Grande played a character known as Cat Valentine. On “Victorious” (which came first), Ariana Grande was not the star of the show and, in fact, was billed sixth or seventh in the opening credits. The show was set in a fictional school for the Arts in Hollywood and, even though Grande was starting to release her own material in the real world, she was not the main singer on that show. She was a popular yet, supporting player in that cast. Yet, there was something about her tiny size and the spunkiness of her personality that attracted Sophie right away. So, when “Victorious” ceased production and a spin-off show called, “Sam and Cat” was announced, Sophie and thousands of other fans were thrilled. “Sam and Cat” took place outside of the world we had come to know at “Hollywood Arts High School” and allowed Ariana Grande to more fully develop her “Cat Valentine” character. Despite this, she never used the show as a vehicle for her music career which, in the real world, was starting to take off!

For such a young singer, Ariana Grande has already sold millions of records and has enjoyed hundreds of millions of “views” on her YouTube channel, as well as, on other social media sites such as Instagram and TikTok. A quick glance of her hits is to see much of what passes for music on today’s radio. Songs such as, “Problem” (with Iggy Azalea), “Break Free” (featuring Zedd), “Bang, Bang” (featuring Nicki Minaj, “No Tears Left To Cry”, “God is a Woman”, “Breathin'”, “Thank U, Next”, “Rain on Me” (with Lady Gaga) and “Save Your Tears” (featuring The Weeknd) are but, a few of her many well known songs that we hear on the daily in our house as Sophie moves about.

The story of Ariana Grande would be one that focussed solely on her singing and acting, if not for her unfortunate involvement in a terrible tragedy a few years ago. As some of you may recall, Grande was performing a sold-out concert in that music Mecca of Manchester, England when a suicide bomber detonated a bomb toward the end of her show, killing several members of the audience in the process. The bomber had no political gripe with Grande but, none-the-less, the deaths happened on her watch and she was devastated by it, as you can probably imagine. In order to meet hate with Love, Grande organized a benefit concert to help raise money for the survivors of the bombing, as well as, the families of the victims. The concert was dubbed, “Manchester: One Love”. It was attended by 55,000 fans who helped overcome their fear of attending a concert in Manchester and ended up raising over $10,000,000. Musical stars such as Miley Cyrus, Katy Perry, Coldplay, Pharrell Williams and many more all took the stage with Grande throughout the day. Rolling Stone Magazine declared the “Manchester: One Love” concert to be the “Most Successful” concert of the year in 2017.

Arising out of the sadness of the Manchester bombing, Grande released a new album called, “Sweetener”. As she explained it, a person who is a “sweetener” is someone who brings positivity into the lives of others. She wanted to be that for others so, she wrote the song that Sophie has chosen for today, called, “Successful”. One of the things Ariana Grande promotes the most is the idea of women boosting up other women. Female empowerment is one of the central themes that runs through her musical catalogue and is one of the reasons that younger girls such as Sophie, are drawn to her. In the song, “Successful”, the chorus talks about how great it is to be young and beautiful and successful. At first, when I heard the song, I thought it came off as being self-absorbed but, that common mis-interpretation was soon put to rest when I learned how she perfroms the song. In live concerts, Ariana Grande turns the spotlight on the women in her audience. When it comes time for the chorus, instead of it turning into a shower of adoration from the audience to her, she goes silent and gets the audience to sing the lines themselves, making it a form of affirmation from her to them that they are, in fact, young and beautiful and successful, too.

When I asked Sophie why she liked this song so much, she replied that she liked the “vibe” it gave off. In her Dad’s old-speak, I think she means she appreciates the message behind the song. That works for me. Because Sophie is such a fan, we will see a few more Ariana Grande posts before our countdown list is through. But, for now, here is Song #6 on her personal list of her favourite and important songs of all-time……”Successful” by Ariana Grande. Enjoy.

The link to the video for the song, “Successful” by Ariana Grande, can be found here.

The link to the video for the lyrics-version of the song, “Successful” by Ariana Grande, can be found here.

The link to the official website for Ariana Grande can be found here.

The link to the official website for “Manchester: One Love” can be found here.

Author: Tom MacInnes

Among the many characters I play: husband, father, son, retired elementary school teacher, writer, Cape Bretoner, lover of hot tea and, above all else, a gentleman. I strive to make a positive difference in the lives of others. In Life, I have chosen to be kind.

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