I never get excited about things. Ever. There was a moment on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody when Dylan Sprouse said, "Keep expectations low to avoid disappointment," and I've lived with that as my unofficial motto ever since, but even I can't help but get butterflies when I think about seeing Ariana Grande's Sweetener World Tour.
This is a pop goddess at the top of her game, a diva who cannot stop peaking, a force to be reckoned with in a tiny, trendy vessel. It helps that ever since the tour kicked off, there's been no shortage of surprises. From unreleased songs to unexpected merch disasters (that were low-key hilarious), these are the best moments from Ari's Sweetener tour so far.
Twitter/@spacednasa via Buzzfeed
Dedicated fans know that Ari’s been having some behind-the-scenes troubles with her merch team lately. Actually, scratch that, anyone with eyes knows that Ari’s been having trouble with her merch team because the stuff she’s been selling at her concerts just isn’t great. We still love the stuff she’s been selling online (when it’s fulfilled correctly) and know that everyone is just trying their best (#nohate), but an early snafu caught by Twitter (and Buzzfeed) will live on in infamy as Ari’s funniest merch mistake. Basically, there was a tour crew neck that was covered in random blue squiggle stains (why? just… why?) that happened to look like both the twig and the berries, if you catch our drift. Sadly, the crewneck was pulled from rotation, but we’d pay good money to get our hands on this little slice of history. I think they were supposed to look like clouds?
Ari has been vocal about the emotional gulf between creating her music and performing it. Making the tracks was cathartic in the wake of personal tragedies like Mac Miller’s overdose and the dissolution of her relationship with Pete Davidson, but having to sing those same songs every night was like reliving the hell she’d gone through in the past two years. We don’t know if Ari will ever feel ready to perform Mac-inspired songs like “ghostin” and “imagine,” but she remembered her late ex more subtly by playing his songs through the arena’s speakers before taking the stage on opening night.
We’re super emo that Ariana removed “goodnight n go” from her setlist, but we’re not surprised. The songstress rarely made it through the Sweetener track without crying, and it was the second song to go following her reveal that singing many of her songs put her through hell, the first being a tribute to Manchester bombing victims, “One Last Time.” Thankfully, when one door closes, another door opens. We’ll be able to hear Ari sing “goodnight n go” in old concert footage until we’re old and grey, and now she’s replaced one Sweetener bop with another, “get well soon.”
Who needs Justin Timberlake? The man of the woods was too busy wrapping up his most recent headlining tour to join the rest of *NSYNC at Coachella, but Ari was more than happy to fill his shoes in classics like "It Makes Me Ill" and "Tearin' Up My Heart" when the iconic boyband joined her during Weekend One. Ariana celebrated the momentous occasion by sharing a video of her lipsyncing to "Tearin' Up My Heart" backstage before the big reveal, and our girl had their '90s choreo down.
Like my friend Ryan always says, Ariana Grande invented gay marriage. Clearly, he’s kidding, but Ari had proven to be a vocal ally for LGBTQ rights (even if some people are annoyed by what they see as queerbaiting in her recent singles). Ariana is a headliner at Manchester Pride, she left the Catholic Church because of how her gay brother was treated, and her MAC lipsticks benefitted the MAC AIDS Fund, on top of a ton of other displays of acceptance and love. To celebrate the beginning of Pride month, Ari changed her stage into a rainbow wonderland during “Break Free,” and partied with a giant rainbow flag alongside her backup dancers. This YouTube video captures the Miami performance in all of its accepting, celebratory glory.
With two full-length albums to tour and an entire back catalog of bangers, it would be impossible for Ariana to sing every song that fans want to hear. Sure, we’d love for Ari to just stay onstage for six hours every night and go through her entire songbook, but that’s a recipe for nodes if we’ve ever heard one. Ari snuck an extra Thank U, Next favorite into the mix by including “In My Head” as an interlude, but this BTS footage on Twitter of Ari singing along backstage proves that she loves the underrated bop as much as the fans do.
Ari might be the biggest pop star in the world, but she’s also a twenty-something with a bad*ss team of family and friends surrounding her. She’s let us into her life by showing snippets of her rooftop kickbacks and release parties, small events with the dopest people she knows, and that hasn’t stopped just because she’s on a world tour. Ariana shared this adorable Twitter video of her dancers tipsy AF recreating the heavenly “God Is A Woman” choreography. What ensues is a lot of laughter, fun, and friends that look a lot like family to us.
Victoria Monét and Ariana are the dream team. They've been working together since Ari’s debut album, Yours Truly, and the best friends have more hits under their belt than we can count. If you have a favorite Ariana Grande track, Victoria probably helped bring it to life. The team celebrated seven weeks of “7 Rings” in Washington, D.C. by singing the unreleased track “Got Her Own,” which they need to release ASAP. Listen to the track about women who have secured their bag on YouTube and revel in its awesomeness.
Okay, so Ari belts her tiny five-foot heart out every night she’s on tour, but there are a few tweets from this tour that should silence any hater. GrandesDevotion on Twitter blessed up with a video of Ari tearing up some vocalizations at the end of “breathin,” while Ari tweeted this video of herself opting up on “everytime.” Ari’s gloss is always poppin', she’s the queen of lampshading, and she loves her fans, but it’s live moments like these that remind us we stan Ari for her Earth-shattering talent.
Thanks to Beyoncé’s stunning Formation tour visuals, the art of the interlude has never been more elevated. Ari obviously plays around with vibrant colors and lends a personal touch through her childhood Bruce Almighty reenactment, but we freaked out when we heard that Ari covered the inimitable Frank Ocean’s “Close To You” on a recording for one of her quick-change disappearances. Technically, Frank’s version is itself a cover of a cover, but Ari’s made no secret of her love for the Blonde recluse, singing “Pink + White” during a Dangerous Woman Tour stop and shooting out a few tweets begging for new music. Same girl, same. You can listen to the interlude (where else?) on Twitter.
Don’t get us wrong when we say that Ari is a magnet for tour flubs. Our girl is a polished, skilled performer who can give your fave icons a run for their money when it comes to stage presence, but she likes to have fun onstage and go off-book, so occasionally accidents happen. Like a true pro, she either adorably laughs them off like her chair stumble on The Ellen DeGeneres last year or completely ignores them, like that time she got hit with a lemon. Wait, what?
Seventeen found this not-so-viral video of a lemon literally bouncing off of Ari during Coachella and our queen continuing on like nothing was wrong. She just said, "That's 'cause one of y'all threw a lemon at me, sh*t,” and finished her historic set. Like, whoever threw that lemon is going straight to hell and can literally catch these hands, but it was both a testament to Ari’s professionalism and the randomest thing that’s happened this tour cycle.
Stans across the world screamed alongside Ariana when BTS’s Jungkook came to the first of her Los Angeles performances as a fan. He wasn’t back stage or hanging in artists’ VIP based on videos where you can clearly see the Korean boybander bopping along to the music in a prime location next to the stage’s runway. He went up to meet Ari after the show and tweeted to his followers that he felt like he learned a lot from watching her onstage. Ari changed her lockscreen to a black and white photo of the pair, which she shared on IG Stories and made a ton of fans spontaneously combust.
Jungkook wasn’t the only crossover star to fangirl over Ariana Grande’s tour. The ladies of BLACKPINK are actually longtime Ariana fans according to Billboard, and it looks like the feeling is mutual. The girl group has covered Ari’s songs on livestreams, Jisoo danced to “Side to Side” on her show Inkigayo, and Jennie went to the Dangerous Woman Tour, while Rosé has hyped up “Goodnight n Go” on IG Stories and uploaded a video of herself jokingly singing to “7 Rings.” Ari let the world know in March 2019 that she actually knows the group and was planning to meet them during AriChella. The mutual fangirling didn’t end there, with Ari sending Rosé a bottle of her Cloud perfume. This blossoming sismance is one of the best parts of the Sweetener tour, and since Coachella was technically a tour stop, we’re counting their meeting as one of the tour's best moments.
Ariana “evolved” one of her Pete Davidson tattoos the night before she kicked off her Sweetener World Tour in Albany, New York. The delicate line drawing of a leafy branch was done by her regular ink wizard Girl Knew York, who came to venue after run-thrus finished in the early hours of the morning to help Ari get her fresh start. Plus, Girl Knew York (also known as Mira Mariah) has a hella long waiting list for appointments at Fleur Noire tattoo parlor — this was probably the only time she could easily pop-in and say hello.
Remember what the Girl Scouts say about making new friends but keeping the old? Ari might have cemented her blossoming relationship with the BLACKPINK girls at Coachella, but she also reunited with her spiritual sis Nicki Minaj onstage during Weekend One. Seeing the love Nicki and Ari have for each other is heart-warming, especially as the close friends grow and evolve into such drastically different artists as compared to who they were when they first linked up to make "Bang Bang" and "Get On Your Knees" in 2014.
Naturally, Ari had to have her BFF on tour more than once. Victoria came back the day “Monopoly” was released for the song’s live premiere in Montreal. When you release a new single in the middle of your world tour, you've got no choice but to give the people a once-in-a-lifetime debut with your OG collaborator. Daria2smile on Twitter got a video of the momentous occasion, which segued into "7 Rings" and "Needy" after Victoria and Ari joyfully finished their ode to being BFFs and wealthy AF.