Ariana Grande has a lot to celebrate these days, what with the launch of her new album <em>Sweetener</em> and her and fiancé Pete Davidson’s whirlwind romance. But the powerhouse singer is also battling with anxiety more than a year after 22 people were killed in a terrorist attack following her concert in Manchester, England.
During a sit-down interview with Ebro Darden on Apple’s Beats 1 Radio Friday, Grande was overcome with emotion — crying over the pain she carries in the wake of Manchester.
The topic came up when Darden mentioned “Get Well Soon,” the Sweetener track that addresses the tragedy.
“It’s just about being there for each other and helping each other through scary times and anxiety,” Grande, 25, said of the song, tears welling in her eyes. “You know, there’s some dark s— out there, man. And we just have to be there for each other as much as we can. Because you never f—ing know, you know. So I wanted to do something to make people feel good and less alone.”
“It’s not just about that. It’s also about personal demons and anxiety and more intimate tragedies as well,” she continued through her cries, later apologizing for “bawling” the whole time. “Mental health is so important. People don’t pay enough mind to it because we have things to do. We have schedules, jobs, kids, places to be, pressures to fit in, Instagram Stories — whatever the f— facade you’re trying to put on, trying to keep up. People don’t pay attention to what’s happening inside. That’s why I felt it was important.”
On “Get Well Soon” — the final track of Sweetener — Grande sings to fans about taking care of themselves and removing negativity from their lives. “This is for everybody / Babe, you gotta take care of you body, yuh yuh,” she sings. “Ain’t no time to deny it, that is why we talking about it / So deal with it, don’t try to get by it.”
Forty seconds of silence follow at the end of the song, bringing its total to 5 minutes and 22 seconds, in honor of her fans who were killed or injured outside the concert venue on May 22 last year.
“I just wanted to give people a hug musically,” Grande told Darden. “I feel like the lyrics can be kind of corny when I talk about wanting to hug you and stuff, but I do. … People got to be nicer. “
Grande went on to explain that the Manchester attack changed her perspective on life.
“We see this s— on the news. [And] you feel bad, you tweet [about] it, you post a picture, you send your condolences, you say something and then you move on. … [But] people are permanently affected by this s—,” she revealed to Darden.
“Perspective, it changes everything. It changes your life quite a bit,” she said. “I really want to be present, and follow happy impulses, and figure that out later. You want to just stay in the moment. You try not to give into fear because obviously that’s the whole point of being here.”
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After the concert, Grande made the tough decision to finish her European tour. “That’s the point of finishing my tour: to [show] an example for my fans who were fearless enough to show up to the f—ing shows,” she said. “You want to keep going. You want to not be afraid because of course, if you give them that, they’ve won.”
“We did everything to not. And we still do everything to not. But the truth is, it’s scary,” Grande added. “Going anywhere, and you look at places differently. I don’t like to have security come with me everywhere. It makes me feel inhuman. It makes me feel weird. I know people just try to take care of me, but I want to escape with my friends and run around and be free. But you think about it differently when s— like that happens. I don’t want to have metal detectors at my shows, I don’t want to have people taking tiny ass bag into my shows. But you better bring a tiny ass bag into my shows! You don’t want to give in and you don’t want to be afraid but it’s still there.”
Earlier this year, the “No Tears Left to Cry” singer opened up about her battle with anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder following the bombing, which also injured more than 500 people.
“It’s hard to talk about because so many people have suffered such severe, tremendous loss,” Grande told Vogue U.K. for their July issue. “But, yeah, it’s a real thing. I know those families and my fans, and everyone there experienced a tremendous amount of it as well. Time is the biggest thing. I feel like I shouldn’t even be talking about my own experience — like I shouldn’t even say anything.”
She previously revealed the attack was particularly horrifying because the concert was supposed to be a place of happiness.
“Music is supposed to be the safest thing in the world,” she told Time. “I think that’s why it’s still so heavy on my heart every single day. I wish there was more that I could fix. You think with time it’ll become easier to talk about. Or you’ll make peace with it. But every day I wait for that peace to come and it’s still very painful.”
On the anniversary of the attack, Grande — who returned to the U.K. shortly after to raise funds for the victims at the One Love Manchester benefit concert — reflected on the victims with a touching message on Twitter.
“Thinking of you all today and every day,” she wrote in May, adding a bee emoji that is a symbol of Manchester. “I love you with all of me and am sending you all of the light and warmth I have to offer on this challenging day.”