Ariana Grande in "7 Rings" (Image courtesy of London Alley Entertainment Inc. / Republic Records)
San Marino High School

Opinion: Fad or forever — Is Ariana Grande’s crowning achievement a meaningless product of stan culture?

For Ariana Grande, having the top three spots on the Billboard Hot 100 almost seem destined to happen. She’s remained a relevant name in pop since her Nickelodeon days of “Sam and Cat” and “Victorious” with constant chart-toppers. It doesn’t matter whether she’s singing solo on “No Tears Left to Cry” or sharing the spotlight with Nicki Minaj on “Side to Side,” her mainstream poise has always been carefully calculated. Now, her efforts have placed her in the company of the Beatles as she dominates the Hot 100 with “7 Rings,” “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored,” and “thank u, next.”

But is this incomparable feat merely the footsteps of modern society’s stan culture, a horde of Arianators vying to save their idol from becoming what she really is: a pop star that will disappear with the smears of time into a “has-been”?

There’s no doubt that Grande is talented. Her whistle register, showcased most recently on the single “Imagine,” is rivaled by few singers while the release itself of “thank u, next” was a testament to Grande’s status as a feminist icon exuding unapologetic confidence. It takes more than talent, however, to achieve Grande’s level of commercial success. Luckily for her, she had just the right tools: mass media and a passionate fanbase.

The process of writing Grande into the history books started off as a simple hashtag on Twitter known as #boycott7rings. Created by her fans, the movement was then acknowledged by Grande on her own account with several tweets before fantasy became reality. This manipulation, however, to catapult Grande into a stratosphere unknown to other deserving cultural icons like Beyoncé and Rihanna is what undermines the authenticity of her achievement.

When the Beatles became the very first artist to occupy the primary spots of the Hot 100, there was a genuine craze about the band that took the world by storm. They became the focal point of the American psyche to the point where the coining of terms like “British invasion” and “Beatlemania” were appropriate. Grande, on the other hand, was forcibly pushed to the top by her fans; it was anything but a natural success, taking almost a week until the scheme came into full fruition.

Few musicians possess the same magnitude of cultural impact the Beatles had on music’s landscape in the 1960’s; Ariana Grande is not one of them. Her tracks breathe life into prevalent themes of modern society, and her life highlights an unfathomable courage in facing hardship, from the Manchester concert bombing to the death of Mac Miller, but her place with the seminal band is in name only. So while it has the numbers to back it up, Grande’s crowning achievement is made of nothing but fool’s gold, melded by the hands of her stans.

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