Dangerous Woman is Ariana Grande's third studio album that was released on May 20, 2016 on Republic Records.
The album debuted at number two on the Billboard 200 albums chart in the United States, (selling 175,000 album-equivalent units in its first week), making it Grande's first album to not hit number-one in the country; however, it became her first number one album in the United Kingdom. It also topped the album charts in Australia, Brazil, Italy, Ireland, New Zealand, Spain and Taiwan.
In October of 2016, "Dangerous Woman" was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). As of September 2017, it has sold 900,000 copies worldwide (according to the IFPI).
On August 25, 2014, Ariana Grande released her second studio album, "My Everything." The album debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 and sold 169,000 copies in its first week.
Months after the album's release, Grande revealed that her third studio album could be titled "Moonlight" making reference to the title in her Twitter account.
Following the rumors about the album's release date, she officially announced the lead single of the album called "Focus" during her September 15, 2015 appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon."
"Focus" was released digitally on October 30, 2015. The song debuted and peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100, selling 113,000 copies in its first week in the United States.
In an interview to U.K station KISS, Grande said that the song was something of an outlier on the album, saying: "That's why I put 'Focus' first, because it's the only one that sort of sounds like that." She also stated the station: "I'm excited for the next couple of months to not only finish [Moonlight] but to have actual undivided time where I can really just focus on the music."
However, after months of speculation, while discussing the album's direction in interview with "Jimmy Kimmel Live!", Grande revealed that she was no longer sure of the name, and that she might re-title the album after another song on the album, saying:
"A really long time ago I was convinced that it was going to be called Moonlight because its [sic] one of my favorite songs that we did for the album," the singer explained. "And now, as we're wrapping things up, of course I've been writing and singing, we're at the final stretch... now there's this other song that has thrown me for a whirlwind and I love it so much, it's changed everything."
On February 22, 2016, Grande announced the new title of the album, "Dangerous Woman" on through her Snapchat and Twitter accounts. The following day, she posted a photo on Instagram with a caption quoting Egyptian feminist writer Nawal El Saadawi's 1975 novel, "Woman at Point Zero" as follows: "They said, 'You are a savage and dangerous woman.' I am speaking the truth. And the truth is savage and dangerous."
As to why the album name was changed, Grande stated that it had to do with portraying herself as a stronger person and to empower fans, saying:
"'Moonlight' is a lovely song, and it's a lovely title. It's really romantic, and it definitely ties together the old music and the new music, but 'Dangerous Woman' is a lot stronger. ... To me, a dangerous woman is someone who's not afraid to take a stand, be herself and to be honest."
The album artwork features Grande wearing latex bunny mask whilst portraying a very seductive image in contrast to the covers of her previous albums.
In an interview with Chris Martins for Billboard magazine, Grande explained that the cover was inspired by Super Bunny costume: "The Super Bunny is my superhero, or supervillain—whatever I'm feeling on the day. Whenever I doubt myself or question choices I know in my gut are right—because other people are telling me other things—I'm like, 'What would that bad bitch Super Bunny do?' She helps me call the shots."
Grande finished work on the album on January 21, 2016.
Recording & Production
For the album's production, Grande worked with several music producers including Max Martin and Savan Kotecha who she worked with as executive producer. She began recording songs for the album soon after the completion of her previous album, "My Everything" and continued throughout the summer and fall of 2015, between stops on her Honeymoon Tour, with her friends Tommy Brown and Victoria Monét.
Commenting about the album's direction, Grande stated, "It still sounds like me, but it feels like a more mature, evolved version. There's a nice blend of the R&B vibes and a nice blend of pop vibes. The whole body of work is a little darker and sexier and more mature."
Grande selected Martin as collaborators after his production on My Everything, she complimented Martin, saying, "He's like a mathematician. He knows music like math. It just makes sense to him."
Musician Ilya Salmanzadeh contributed to the album producing and writing songs with Martin, Grande, Kotecha and Alexander Kronlund. They developed several tracks present in the album, including "Into You, "Side to Side", "Greedy", "Everyday", "Bad Decisions" and "Touch It", while the title track was produced by Johan Carlsson and Martin.
All of the songs were recorded at MXM Studios in Los Angeles, California and Wolf Cousins Studios in Stockholm, Sweden and mixed by Serban Ghenea at MixStar Studios (also located in the state of California).
Brown and Monét worked collectively as TBHits, one of their first productions recorded for the album was "Moonlight", Grande wrote the song with Monét, she described the song as "the most special song I've to that day." They also produced "Be Alright", "Let Me Love You", "Leave Me Lonely", "I Don't Care" and "Knew Better/Forever Boy", all the songs were recorded at Vietom Studios.
The album features guest appearances by several hip hop artists such as Lil Wayne, Future and Nicki Minaj (who previously collaborated with Grande in "Bang Bang" alongside Jessie J and "Get On Your Knees" from Minaj's third studio album, "The Pinkprint" in which Grande is a featured artist).
About the choice of collaborators, Grande said: "I love working with artists people don't expect me to work with." During the recording sessions for "Everyday", she wanted to work with Future, but felt that it wasn't the right thing because of the differences between them, saying, "I knew I wanted to work with Future, but I didn't know if we could find the right song to do together because we're so different, but we found a dope vibe and it's very unique and exciting."
According to Grande, "When his song comes on, it creates a physical response." She included Nicki Minaj on "Side to Side," stating, "I love working with her."
Singer Macy Gray was invited to record "Leave Me Lonely" after she met with Republic Records's A&R Wendy Goldstein.
In an interview with Fuse, Gray explained how the collaboration happened: "They were just in the middle of finishing the album, and they had that "Leave Me Lonely," and at the time, the person who wrote it was just singing on it, just to show whoever was gonna sing it how it would go, and so it was kind of a demo. And Wendy asked me to do it, and said 'Let me check with Ariana,' and then two days later we were in the studio and I went and cut it."
- Dangerous Woman
- Be Alright
- Into You
- Side To Side (featuring Nicki Minaj)
- Let Me Love You (featuring Lil Wayne)
- Leave Me Lonely (featuring Macy Gray)
- Everyday (featuring Future)
- I Don't Care
- Bad Decisions
- Touch It
- Knew Better / Forever Boy
- Thinkin' 'Bout You
Target bonus tracks
- Step on Up
- Jason's Song (Gave It Away)
Release & Promotion
On February 22, 2016, Grande announced the final title of the album via her Snapchat. Two days later, she launched a website to promote her album (now merged with her original website), which features a "Tea" section in which Grande shares new information regarding the album, as well as a "Shop" section, in which album-related merchandise is sold.
The official album cover was released on March 10 via Grande's social media accounts and on her official website. The next day, the album was made available for pre-order through the iTunes Store.
On March 12, 2016, Grande was both the host and musical guest on NBC's Saturday Night Live, where she performed "Dangerous Woman" and "Be Alright".
In April, she debuted "Leave Me Lonely" live at the grand opening of the Las Vegas T-Mobile Arena and performed "Dangerous Woman" at the MTV Movie Awards.
On May 13, 2016, she announced via her Instagram account that a new song from the album would be premiered exclusively on Apple Music every day until its release. The songs released, in order of release, were "Everyday" featuring Future, "Greedy", "Side to Side" (featuring Nicki Minaj) "Sometimes", "Leave Me Lonely", (featuring Macy Gray) "Touch It", and "Bad Decisions".
Grande promoted the album's release with televised performances at the Billboard Music Awards, and on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" and "Good Morning America." On May 25, she sang "Into You" and duetted with Christina Aguilera on "Dangerous Woman" on "The Voice" season 10 finale.
At the Summertime Ball at London's Wembley Stadium in June, Grande performed "Dangerous Woman, "Into You", and "Greedy" from the album as part of her set. She later performed at the MTV Video Music Awards with Minaj to promote the album's third single. She also appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on September 8, 2016.
On November 20, 2016, at the American Music Awards, Grande performed "Side to Side" (alongside Minaj) and won "Artist of the Year." In December of 2016, she was a performer at four of iHeartRadio's Jingle Ball shows.
In May of 2016, Grande first announced plans to tour on the "Dangerous Woman" website. On September 9, 2016, she released the dates for the first leg of the "Dangerous Woman Tour" with ticket pre-sales beginning on September 20, 2016 and tickets going on general sale on September 24, 2016.
The tour started on February 3, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona and ended on September 21, 2017 in Hong Kong. On May 22, 2017, at the conclusion of Grande's concert at Manchester Arena in England, a terrorist attack caused 22 fatalities and left more than 500 others injured. Grande was not injured during the bombing.
Grande offered her condolences on Twitter for those affected by the attack and organized the "One Love Manchester" benefit concert to raise money for the victims.
In the United States, "Dangerous Woman" officially debuted at number two on the Billboard 200, behind Drake's "Views" album. It earned 175,000 units, with 129,000 coming from pure album sales.
In the second week, the album dropped to number six, selling another 50,000 equivalent units while in the third week, it slipped to number seven, with 33,000 equivalent units sold.
On October 28, 2016, "Dangerous Woman" was certified Platinum by the RIAA for combined album sales, on-demand audio, video streams and track-sale equivalent of 1 million units. As of December 2018, the album has sold 411,000 pure copies in the United States and has moved 1,871,000 units.
In Japan, "Dangerous Woman" debuted at number two on the Oricon Albums Chart, selling 20,811 copies in its opening week, becoming Grande's highest album ranking in that region. In the second week, the album dropped to number eight, selling 11,950 copies. In the third week, it stayed at number eight, with 7,022 copies sold.
As of June 2016, the album has sold 50,000 copies in Japan. In September, it was certified Gold for shipments of 125,000 copies in the country. In China, it has sold over 2.1 million digital copies.
In the United Kingdom, the album debuted at number one on the Official Albums Chart, her first number one album in the UK.
The album also reached the top of the charts in several other markets, including Australia, Brazil, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain and Taiwan.
In the year-end charts, "Dangerous Woman" was placed as the 28th best selling album of 2016, according to IFPI, selling 900,000 copies worldwide that year.
"Dangerous Woman" received positive reviews from music critics. According to Metacritic, critics gave the album a score of 76 (based on 14 reviews) indicating "generally favorable reviews."
Stephen Thomas Erlewine wrote for AllMusic that "track by track, Dangerous Woman has sly, subtle distinctions – a little bit of torch gives way to some heavy hip only to have frothy pop surface again", and that "while some of these cuts work better than others, the range is impressive, as is Grande's measured, assured performance."
In his review for Entertainment Weekly, Nolan Feeney commented that while Grande's previous album, "My Everything" "suffered for trying to be everything" on "Dangerous Woman" "with a streamlined team of hitmakers such as Max Martin, she pulls off pop, R&B, reggae, and house—all without overextending herself or pandering to trends."
The A.V. Club's Annie Zaleski agreed, stating that the album "possesses more personality than 'My Everything'," and writes in conclusion that "'Dangerous Woman' is an effortless leap forward on which Grande comes into her own as a vocalist and performer."
Lewis Corner from Digital Spy noted that Grande "ultimately pulled together a consistent collection that impressively manages to keep your attention over 15 tracks."
Mikael Wood, writing for the Los Angeles Times, found it "impressive how fully she inhabits the emotional environment of each song" on the album.
Larry Bartleet of NME wrote that apart from the "consistent songwriting clout that elevates this album from recent efforts by Grande's teen-star peers, Demi Lovato and Selena Gomez", the "modish message of empowerment feels honest coming from Grande."
Michael Cragg from The Observer noted that during her successful previous album she had lost her identity in the process, but in comparison, he noted that the album is a "refinement of her sound", and concluded that "held together by Grande's skyscraping voice, Dangerous Woman throws a lot at the wall and, brilliantly, most of it sticks."
Erik Ernst of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel opined that "like much of the disc, it's an unexpected, but remarkable, choice from a confident pop star ready to set her own path to the top."
Maeve McDermott of USA Today summarized that "Dangerous Woman", "like its title suggests", is "a mature portrait of an artist blessed with one of pop's strongest voices, brimming with potential hits."
Quinn Moreland of Pitchfork viewed that "Grande does not need to force any sort of spirit, she is full of it already. She just needs to find the Dangerous Woman within herself and let her break free."
The Plain Dealer's Troy L. Smith wrote that the album "plays it safe and smart", explaining it "functions as 'My Everything 2.0' – a collection of pitch-perfect hooks and slick production built in the mold of Mariah Carey."
For Theon Weber of Spin, "Grande is most complete on record when she's playing a diva."
Sal Cinquemani of Slant Magazine wrote that Grande "too often tries to look and sound more mature than she is "observing that "the songs on the album's latter half are limited by their strict adherence to contemporary pop and R&B trends."
In a mixed review, Christopher R. Weingarten of Rolling Stone opined that "as an album artist, she's prone to a schizophrenic sound and unfortunate sequencing," adding that "we're still no closer to figuring out who she wants to be."
He also said that "her talents are wasted on meaningful-sounding but ultimately trite lyrics. However, her phrasing remains unique and powerful and pyrotechnic."