Watch Ariana Grande's Powerhouse Whitney Houston Tribute

Ariana Grande is clearly locked into her Dangerous Woman evolution. She's moved past her Nickelodeon roots and into performance maturity, and she's sort of done it without us realizing it was happening.

The singer is only 23, though she seems younger than her counterpart Justin Bieber (22) by a half-decade. That’s probably a function of her recent rise to fame; she hasn’t had enough scandal for us to consider her a grown-up celebrity. Excepting, of course, her brutal attack on some donuts.

But an appearance on the finale of ABC's Greatest Hits showed that she has vocal talent that belies her years. The singer was tasked with performing a two-song tribute to Whitney Houston that nearly brought down the whole building. She isn’t the most dynamic dancer, or isn’t asked to be, but few singers can match her for pure vocal range.

Her performance of “How Will I Know” and “Queen of the Night” are far, far better than they have any right to be. We might have expected a credible Whitney Houston tribute out of Beyoncé, or maybe an ultra-locked in Miley Cyrus. This Grande performance may be better than both of them.

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