2018 was Ariana Grande's year, and I was ready for the 2019 Grammys to prove it. Not only did the artist release her latest album Sweetener, which was a frank exploration of grief and healing, but she also dropped a surprise new song "Thank U, Next" that's a raw, emotional, but ultimately inspiring reaction to heartbreak. People couldn't stop listening to and praising the artist, but you wouldn't know it by the list of Grammy nominations.
Grande was shut out of General Field categories Record Of The Year, Album Of The Year, Song Of The Year, and Best New Artist, despite the fact that Sweetener is definitely a major 2018 album, and "God Is A Woman" or "No Tears Left To Cry" would face no resistance had they appeared next to Cardi B's "I Like It" or Shawn Mendes' "In My Blood" for Record or Song Of The Year. Instead, Grande nabbed two nominations in the Pop category, for Best Pop Vocal Album and Best Pop Solo Performance.
For "Thank U, Next," at least, there's an explanation. While the song is Ariana Grande's first number-one single, and was the biggest music video debut in YouTube history and Vevo's fastest video to reach 100 million views, it didn't snag any Grammy nominations. This isn't because the Recording Academy wasn't equally as blown away by the song, but because a little technicality means we'll have to wait until next year before the single gets its due.
According to the Grammy website, the eligibility period for the 2019 Grammys is between October 1, 2017—September 30, 2018. "Thank U, Next" didn't drop until November 3, 2018 — a Saturday night, which is both untraditional for singles and also a coy nod to ex Pete Davidson, who then performed on Saturday Night Live that very evening.
While this does mean that we have to wait a little longer before "Thank U, Next" gets any award buzz, this rigid rule-following is exactly what Grande is trying to avoid.
"If I want to tour two albums at once, I’m going to tour two albums at once," she told Billboard for their Woman Of The Year cover story. "If I want to drop a third album while I’m on tour [in 2019], I’ll do that too! Please. ['Thank U, Next' production duo] Social House is my opening act — you don’t think we’re going to have a studio on the bus? That we’re not going to be making records on the road? Of course we are."
So, in short, Grande doesn't need the Academy's approval, she just needs, well, Ari's — and she's so good with that.