Ariana Grande’s 2018 was certainly eventful–recovering from the deadly Manchester Arena bombing that left her traumatized, getting engaged, coping with the death of an ex, breaking off her engagement, and releasing not one, but two albums within six months despite everything.
When that bombing turned her world upside down, Grande’s closest friends and family thought she was going to slow down. Instead, she took her trauma and turned it into one of pop’s top albums. Months later, she did the same thing all over again. Last year was an emotional 2018 for Grande, but more importantly, it taught her that she can fall down again and again but come back up stronger than ever each time.
Perhaps the catalyst for her year of growth was that fateful and tragic day in May 2017. During Grande’s concert at Manchester Arena in Manchester, England, a terrorist bombing occurred that left 22 people dead. The pop singer later said in a letter to fans that the tragedy will “leave her speechless and filled with questions for the rest of her life,” according to CNN.
For several months following the attack, Grande was too traumatized to perform or make new music, save for a One Love Manchester fundraising event in June. Music had been her “escape, fun, comfort, expression, and happiness,” as she explained, but the bombing had taken that away. She entered 2018 with a piece of herself missing.
Finally, in April 2018, she announced her upcoming single “No Tears Left to Cry” in upside-down text, which would soon become the theme for her Sweetener album as a representation of how the bombing turned her life upside down. The single hit Billboard’s Top 100 chart at No. 3 and marked the beginning of her epic comeback.
In May, Grande’s whirlwind romance with comedian Pete Davidson began, and the two went on to get matching tattoos, move in together, adopt a pet pig, and become engaged within less than five months, per Cosmopolitan’s timeline of the couple’s relationship.
Grande released Sweetener in August 2018, featuring a loving tune titled after her fiance. Her fourth studio album debuted at No. 1 on the charts and received praise from countless critics. The album’s opening day on Spotify brought in 15.1 million streams, breaking a record for a female artist.
Grande’s ex-boyfriend, rapper Mac Miller, died of a drug overdose in September, bringing the pop star to cancel an upcoming performance for “emotional reasons” soon after. As she needed time to cope with the loss, Grande and Davidson called off their engagement.
By November, the star announced that she is already working on new music. She surprise-released her single “Thank U, Next,” which broke numerous streaming records and topped charts. The tune is a breakup song laced with female empowerment as Grande thanks all of her exes by name for molding her into who she is today, including Miller and Davidson.
Her growth and success in 2018 led her to become Billboard’s Woman of the Year in music. Even after the new year began, she was still shaking the world in anticipation of her latest album, Thank U, Next. The album was finally released on Friday, February 8, after the singer dropped two more singles.
Grande is set to embark on her Sweetener tour in the coming months.
“The sky’s the limit for her,” Allison Kaye, president at Grande’s management group SB Projects, told Fast Company.