The 24-year-old singer also spilled major secrets about her upcoming album, including its title — Sweetener — and its summer release date, July 20.
Grande has already released the album’s first single, “No Tears Left to Cry,” which she also performed on Tuesday night for the first time on network television. Both the song and the album mark the first new music Grande has released since the Manchester bombing in May 2017, when a terrorist killed 22 people at one of the U.K. stops of her Dangerous Woman Tour.
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That tragic event appears to have inspired Grande’s new album title.
“It is called Sweetener because it’s kind of about bringing light to a situation or to someone’s life or somebody else who brings light to your life or sweetens the situation,” Grande said.
Since wrapping her tour in 2017, the Nickelodeon alum has maintained a relatively low profile, staying away from interviews —something Fallon acknowledged.
“I haven’t seen you since the tragic events that happened in Manchester. I know it’s tough for everybody, tough for fans, and tough for you. I know you haven’t done any interviews. I understand that,” he said. “I just want to say thank you so much for coming on the show and for being strong, for entertaining, for showing up, for going back to Manchester and doing a benefit. I just think you’re so strong.”
Fallon then read lines from Grande’s statement after the events to cheers from the audience, saying, “We won’t let hate win. Our response to this violence must be to come closer together, to help each other, to love more, to sing louder, and to live more kindly and generously than we did before.”
Leading up to the release of Sweetener, Grande will have special launches on the 20th of each month, starting with a performance at the Billboard Music Awards on May 20.
Grande said she worked with producers like Pharrell and American electronic pop duo Sylvan Esso — singer Amelia Meath and producer Nick Sanborn — for the new album.
Tracks will include a tune called “R.E.M.” — lyrics of which she shared on April 28 in what she called a “tweet vomit” — as well as “The Light Is Coming” and “God Is a Woman.” (A full track list is hidden in Grande’s “No Tears Left To Cry” music video, though not in order.)
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The first song on the album is called “Raindrops,” a sample from Hal Miller & The Rays’ 1961 tune “An Angel Cried.” Grande recalled recording the tune a cappella, thinking she would “chop it up and sample it or make a beat out of it or something.” But boyfriend Mac Miller encouraged her to keep it as is.
Later, Grande would learn the song was co-written by Charles Calello — who happened to be her “grandfather’s best friend” and who Grande “grew up hanging out with in Bocca.”
“That just gave me goosebumps,” she said. “It was almost like he was like, ‘Okay, the album’s gone, girl.’ ”
During her Tonight Show appearance, Grande also played Fallon’s “Musical Genre Challenge” — singing songs like Drake’s “God’s Plan” and Kendrick Lamar’s “Humble” in the style of a 90’s diva, and Evanescence-esque goth rock, respectively.
She also surprised fans who were singing along to her 2014 hit “One Last Time” — leading one to fall to the floor in shock.
The youngest fan, 11, burst into tears and gave Grande a huge hug, telling her, “I love you so much.”
The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon airs weeknights (11:35 p.m. ET) on NBC.