I got a bad boy, I must admit it/ You got my heart, don’t know how you did it/ And I don’t care who sees it babe
Okay, so: She likes bad boys! The former Nickelodeon star's first hit single — a collab with ex-boyfriend Mac Miller — was just a declaration of feverish love for a bad boy. Despite his bad boy-ness, Grande expressed affection for her guy because of his "way."
I feel like my heart is stuck in bumper to bumper/ Traffic, I'm under pressure 'cause I can't have you/ The way that I want/ Let's just go back to the way it was/
"Honeymoon Avenue," another of Grande's earliest hits, is also one of her saddest. It's not about a honeymoon. It's actually about a desire to return to the honeymoon stage of a relationship. The relationship is faltering and Grande is desperate to return to the excited early days of it.
I could write a song with my new piano/ I could sing about how love is a losing battle
This was a blue period for Grande. Despite all the bops, her 2013 album Yours Truly has a lot of plaintive and despondent imagery. "Piano," an uptempo track, is about how Grande should be writing a sad love song, but she won't. Instead, she'd rather be writing a dance track that'll make listeners dance. Her compromise: a semi-sad track about Grande's need to escape sad songs.
Baby I don't care if you got her in your heart/ All I really care is you wake up in my arms/ One last time/ I need to be the one who takes you home/
This is Grande's "give me one more chance" song. She knows her lover has moved on, and she's begging for one last night alone with them. Really, it's a song about breakup sex, y'all. The lover may have moved on, but that doesn't matter. Grande just wants to have the final word.
'Cause if you want to keep me, you gotta gotta gotta gotta got to love me harder
Grande's back to singing about early love. "Love Me Harder," which also features the Weeknd, is both a seduction song and an "If you wanna be my lover" song. It's seduction with some firm suggestions embedded within. Suggestions like "love me harder." (In this instance, 'love me harder' is definitely a metaphor for intercourse. This song appeared in 50 Shades of Grey.)
You said I was your best, would be your last/ Now he's gone, you're alone/ Don't want you back
Grande (a noted gay icon, for reals) has said in the past that this song is about a boyfriend cheating on her with another boy. It's less about love, and more about what happens after someone cheats. Even if it was with a boy, there's still a lot of anger. And hey! You said she was your best!
For the record: Grande told Metro that she'd be "relieved" if she found out a boyfriend cheated on her with a boy. She's also 99% sure it's happened to her before.
Boy, you give me feelings, never felt before/ I'm making it obvious by knocking at your door/ I know that I'm coming tonight/ You know I'm coming tonight/ Don't want to deny it anymore/
"You know I'm coming tonight."
Honestly, it means exactly what it sounds like it does!
I been doing stupid things/ Wilder than I've ever been/ You've become my favorite since/ So let 'em keep, let 'em keep on talking/ That's right
On her 2015 LP Dangerous Woman, Grande really stresses her "wild" side. Her love, in this album, is making her make bad decisions. It's making her feel dangerous. It's making her do stupid things. This is, if you've been listening, an essential part of love for Grande (at least, for her musical persona).
I just broke up with my ex/ Now I’m out here single, I don’t really know what’s next/ But I ain’t even trippin', I'mma chill and sit back/ And I know they will be coming from the right and the left, left, left
The year is 2015. Ariana Grande just broke up with rapper Big Sean. She doesn't really know what's next. But, she wants to love you. You being the new object of her affection!
"Good conversation got me holding my breath," she sings. "And I don’t normally say this but goddamn, you're the best, best, best."
So baby, come light me up and baby I'll let you on it/ A little bit dangerous, but baby, that's how I want it/ A little less conversation, and a little more touch my body
Again: Love is dangerous! Love is like lighting a fire! Love should leave you breathless!
Been tryna hide it/ Baby what's it gonna hurt if they don't know?/ Makin' everybody think that we solo/ Just as long as you know you got me
Look, it's 2018. We all know this song is about sex. Sex that is so good it leaves you wobbling side-to-side. Nicki Minaj refers to a "dick bicycle" in it, and Grande literally rode a stationary bike (soul-cyclin', y'all!) for her performance of this song at the 2016 VMAs. (Song lyrics aside, she performed that ish while riding a bicycle! The girl has stamina!) "Side to Side" isn't about love, per se, but it's definitely about lust. And — just spitballing here — Grande is good at lust.
I'm lovin', I'm livin', I'm pickin' it up
"No Tears Left To Cry" is about a lot of things. Love is just one among many themes, but it's still important. In a track released one year after a terrorist bombing at her concert in Manchester, she repeats with resolve "I'm loving, I'm living, I'm picking it up" throughout the song, declaring her intentions to leave all the sadness behind. Grande's overwhelming view of love is that it's fun. It should feel like dancing. It should feel like being "out here vibing."