It's been quite a year for Ariana Grande. In the last 12 months, the pop star has seen some of the most epic moments of her professional career thanks to the wild success of her newest albums, "Sweetener" and "Thank U, Next." And on a personal level, the singer has experienced the highest highs (a surprising engagement!) and the lowest lows (a tragic loss and two very public breakups). In celebration of her 2019 Coachella headlining performance, Wonderwall.com is taking a look back at her incredible year, starting with…
On April 20, 2018, Ariana Grande released "No Tears Left to Cry," her first song since Britain's Manchester Arena was bombed minutes after she left the stage following her "Dangerous Woman" tour stop there. After the May 2017 tragedy, Ariana temporarily hit pause on work and plans to record new music so that she could focus on recovering from the trauma of the bombing. She recorded "Tears" in late 2017. "I hope this song brings you light and comfort but also makes you wanna dance and live ya best life!" she wrote on Instagram after the song was released. "I am so excited for this new chapter with you all. thank you for this beautiful start."
RELATED: Ariana Grande's best fashion moments
To promote her brand-new track "No Tears Left to Cry," Ariana Grande made a surprise appearance during Kygo's set at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in April 2018 on the same day the single hit the airwaves after taking a helicopter there with then-boyfriend Mac Miller. The couple seemed to be going strong at the time, with Ariana posting a photo of herself cuddled up to the rapper at the festival.
RELATED: Cardi B's best style moments
On May 1, 2018, Ariana Grande appeared on "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon" and shared that her new album would be called "Sweetener." "It's kind of about bringing light to a situation or to someone's life or somebody else brings life to your life. Sweetening the situation," she explained. During her full takeover of that night's episode, she performed "No Tears Left to Cry" for the first time on television.
Following the 2018 Met Gala on May 7, Ariana Grande and "Saturday Night Live" comedian Pete Davidson — on whom the pop star had a long-time crush — secretly met up. Pete later recounted their first hang to Howard Stern, explaining that Ariana was still in her gala finery while he was in sweats and a T-shirt. But the night still went well. "I'm so stupid and unaware of how chemistry and all that stuff works. I literally was like, 'Hi, can I kiss you please?'" he told the satellite radio host. "We played [a game called Quiplash for two hours with her friends], everybody left, and then it was just me and her. And I was like, 'Well, if there was ever a shot, it would be now. Go for it.'"
In May 2018, news broke that Ariana Grande and her boyfriend of two years, rapper Mac Miller, had recently split. The pop star — who'd just moved on with Pete Davidson after her and Mac's quiet breakup — broke her silence about it on her Instagram Stories, confirming the news. "This is one of my best friends in the whole world and favorite people on the planet," she wrote. "I respect and adore him endlessly and am grateful to have him in my life in any form, at all times regardless of how our relationship changes or what the universe holds for each of us!"
Shortly after news of Ariana Grande and Mac Miller's split emerged, the rapper totaled his car and got a DUI. Some fans blamed his ex, but she wouldn't stand for it. "How absurd that you minimize female self-respect and self-worth by saying someone should stay in a toxic relationship because he wrote an album about them, which btw isn't the case (just Cinderella is ab me)," she shared on Twitter. "I am not a babysitter or a mother and no woman should feel that they need to be. I have cared for him and tried to support his sobriety and prayed for his balance for years (and always will of course) but shaming/blaming women for a man's inability to keep his sh– together is a very major problem. Let's please stop doing that."
Meanwhile, Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson were in the throes of new love. In what would end up being a signature move in their relationship, they got their first matching tattoos the same month they started dating. Both inked-up celebs got tattoos of a cloud on their left-hand middle fingers. Among their many tributes to one another that followed were Ariana's ankle tattoo honoring Pete's late father, a New York firefighter who died on 9/11, and Pete's behind-the-ear ink of his girl's signature "Dangerous Woman" bunny ears.
On June 11, 2018, rumors emerged claiming that Pete Davidson and Ariana Grande were engaged. (It also came out that he'd popped the question with a $93,000 diamond ring.) Within three days, Nick Cannon, who'd previously worked with Pete on "Wild 'N Out," confirmed it. "He called before he was going to do it, and I said, 'Salud!'" Nick told "Entertainment Tonight." "He was really excited, so I was like, 'I love it, man. Keep it going.' Love is in the air!" Nick added that he'd be willing to officiate their wedding. "I think they're outstanding. They're young people in love and you can't knock that."
On June 20, 2018, Ariana Grande premiered another song from her forthcoming album, "The Light is Coming," which featured Nicki Minaj. The two had collaborated before, with the rapper appearing on Ariana's "Dangerous Woman" album on the smash hit "Side to Side." That song was the first top-five single from the 2016 project.
The second official single from "Sweetener" premiered on July 13, 2018 — "God is a Woman." The song charted high on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Ariana Grande's 10th top-10 single in America. The song was also considered a critical success for the former Nickelodeon star.
Three-and-a-half months after announcing its impending release, Ariana Grande's fourth studio album, "Sweetener," finally debuted. The album featured guest appearances from Nicki Minaj, Pharrell Williams and Missy Elliott and debuted at No. 1. It was a major success for the pop star, as the album sold more than any of her previous releases. She also announced that she would be doing another world tour that would launch in March 2019.
In an interview with Paper magazine released in August 2018, Ariana Grande opened up about the emotional experience of writing her album alongside Pharrell Williams. "[Pharrell] kind of forced it out of me, because I was in a really bad place mentally. I've always had anxiety, I've had anxiety for years. But when I got home from tour, it reached a very different, intense peak," she revealed, speaking specifically about their song "Get Well Soon," which was inspired by the trauma of her 2017 Manchester concert bombing. "[Pharrell] was like, 'You have to write about it. You need to make this into music and get this sh– out, and I promise it will heal you.' And it definitely helped. It still took me a few weeks to feel better, but looking back at it now from a healthier place, it's probably one of the most important songs I'll ever write."
Ariana Grande had another major moment when she was tasked with performing at Aretha Franklin's funeral. Ariana sang the diva's hit song "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman" as her tribute to the late, great Queen of Soul in Detroit on Aug. 31, 2018. While the pop star's performance was amazing, it was overshadowed in the media by stories about a preacher's roaming hands. However, like the true superstar she is, Ariana didn't let it take away from her moment honoring a Motown legend.
While at the top of the world professionally, Ariana Grande experienced devastating grief when she learned on Sept. 7, 2018, that ex-boyfriend Mac Miller had died from a suspected — and later confirmed — drug overdose. (Mac accidentally OD'd on fentanyl and cocaine.) She publicly acknowledged his passing with an Instagram post a week later. "i adored you from the day i met you when i was nineteen and i always will. i can't believe you aren't here anymore. i really can't wrap my head around it. we talked about this. so many times. i'm so mad, i'm so sad i don't know what to do," she wrote. "you were my dearest friend. for so long. above anything else. i'm so sorry i couldn't fix or take your pain away. i really wanted to. the kindest, sweetest soul with demons he never deserved. i hope you're okay now. rest."
Not even two months after her album release, Ariana Grande was releasing more new music. On Oct. 4, 2018, she posted a 45-second snippet on Twitter and Instagram of a new song, captioning the video, "tell me how good it feels to be needed." The news energized fans, who quickly got excited for what they called "AG5" — Ariana's unannounced fifth album. But on Jan. 22, she confirmed a date: "Thank U, Next" the album would be coming out on Feb. 8, 2019.
On Oct. 14, 2018, news broke revealing that Ariana Grande and Pete Davidson had suddenly called it quits and ended their engagement. Things had been trying for the couple, who'd been moving at warp speed, after her ex Mac Miller passed away. The devastating loss led Ariana to take a brief break from work to heal and mend. She later addressed the challenges she faced post-split on her Instagram Stories, writing, "Time to say bye bye again to the internet for just a lil bit. It's hard not to bump news n stuff that I'm not tryna see rn. It's very sad and we're all tryin very hard to keep goin. Love u. And thank u for bein here always."
After ex-fiancé Pete Davidson joked about their broken engagement on "Saturday Night Live," Ariana Grande dropped hints about a new song about self-empowerment, "thank u, next," which will also be the name of her next album. Then came the telling lyrics name-checking recent boyfriends Big Sean, Ricky Alvarez, Pete and Mac Miller when it was released in November 2018: "Thought I'd end up with Sean, but he wasn't a match / Wrote some songs about Ricky, now I listen and laugh / Even almost got married, and for Pete, I'm so thankful / Wish I could say thank you to Malcolm, 'cause he was an angel." It broke a record when it became the fastest to surpass 100 million streams on Spotify. It also became Ariana's first No. 1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. The celebrity cameo-filled video released on Nov. 30, 2018, instantly became a smash too as Ariana paid tribute to rom-coms "Mean Girls," "Bring It On," "13 Going on 30" and "Legally Blonde."
After a tumultuous few months, Ariana Grande was honored as Billboard's Woman of the Year in early December 2018 even though she felt she was "completely undeserving" of it. "I find it interesting that this has been one of the best years of my career and the worst of my life," she said at the event. "A lot of people would look at someone in my position right now as an artist that could be at her peak and think, 'She's really got her sh– together, she's really on it. She's got it all.' And I do, but as far as my personal life goes, I really have no idea what the f— I'm doing."
In mid-December 2018, Ariana Grande's ex-fiancé Pete Davidson posted a disturbing note on Instagram, writing, "i really don't want to be on this earth anymore. i'm doing my best to stay here for you but i actually don't know how much longer i can last." Concerned fans urged NYPD to do a welfare check on the comedian, who's been open about his struggles with borderline personality disorder. Ariana was also worried and sought out her ex as he was rehearsing for "Saturday Night Live." "I'm downstairs and I'm not going anywhere if you need anyone or anything," she tweeted. "I know u have everyone u need and that's not me, but i'm here too." Pete refused to see her, but reportedly got the help he needed.
Ariana Grande made history when she was announced as one of three headliners for Coachella 2019. The feat makes the 25 year old the youngest headliner to grace the April music festival's stage!
2019 kicked off on a high note for Ariana Grande. Her hit, "thank u, next," spent more than a month at No. 1 on the Billboard charts. She released her next single, "7 Rings," on Jan. 18 and it was also a huge success: Manager Scooter Braun announced that the song — which Ariana has called "a friendship anthem" — "now has the Spotify all-time record for most streamed song within its first 24 hours with 14,966,544 streams!! 4 million more than the former record holder! History is being made!" (It bested Mariah Carey's holiday hit "All I Want For Christmas Is You," which scored 10,819,009 Spotify streams on Dec. 24, 2018.)
After dropping hit single "7 Rings" in January, Ariana Grande commemorated the track by getting its title tattooed on her palm in Japanese. Instead, the pop star accidentally got it wrong when she failed to include two important characters and her inking ended up translating to "small charcoal grill." Then when she tried to have it corrected after consulting with her Japanese tutor, she still didn't get it quite right, with the latest version roughly translating to "small charcoal grill finger ♡." But despite the memes she inspired, and the criticism, Ariana laughed it all off, thanking "my doctor for the lidocaine shots (no joke)" and quipping on social media, "RIP tiny charcoal grill. Miss u man. I actually really liked u."
On Feb. 7 — one day before she dropped her latest album and three days before the Grammys — Ariana Grande defended herself against what she said were false claims from the award show's producer. After producer Ken Ehrlich claimed in an interview that the twice-nominated "7 Rings" singer — who was a big part of the music award show's advertising campaign — decided not to take the stage during the Feb. 10 telecast because "she felt it was too late for her to pull something together for sure," Ariana hit back. "i've kept my mouth shut but now you're lying about me," she tweeted. "i can pull together a performance over night and you know that, Ken. it was when my creativity & self expression was stifled by you, that i decided not to attend. i hope the show is exactly what you want it to be and more." She said that even though she offered three different songs, she got pushback. "it's about collaboration. it's about feeling supported. it's about art and honesty. not politics. not doing favors or playing games. it's just a game y'all.. and i'm sorry but that's not what music is to me."
On Feb. 8, Ariana Grande dropped "Thank U, Next" — her fifth studio album and second album in less than six months. Among its 12 tracks are songs with lyrics seemingly about her failed engagement to Pete Davidson, her grieving and healing process following the overdose death of ex-boyfriend Mac Miller, plus music about self-love and feeling empowered to move on after a breakup.
In the wake of her Grammys performance controversy, Ariana Grande came out on top: She won her first Grammy Award — for best pop vocal album for "Sweetener" — on Feb. 10 though wasn't there to accept it. Ten days later, Ari won her first Brit Award (the UK's version of the Grammys), for best international female solo artist (pictured).
February 2019 continued to be a huge month for Ariana Grande. The pop star became the first act to land the No. 1, 2 and 3 songs on the Billboard Hot 100 chart since The Beatles did it in 1964. It happened as "7 Rings" remained the top song for the fourth straight week while "Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I'm Bored" debuted at No. 2 and "thank u, next" jumped from No. 7 to No. 3.
Ariana Grande broke a social media record in February too. Billboard reported on Feb. 25 that the pop star had eclipsed Selena Gomez to become the most followed woman on Instagram after accumulating 146,286,173 followers. The only person who had more than Ari at the time? International soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo, who beat Selena for the "most followed" title in October 2018.
On Feb. 25 — nearly two years after a deadly terrorist attack was carried out at her concert in Manchester, England — Ariana Grande announced that she would be returning to the city to headline Manchester Pride on Aug. 25, 2019, at a new 9,000-capacity outdoor venue. But within days, controversy had erupted. Critics argued that Pride ticket prices skyrocketed after Ariana, who does not identify as LGBTQ, signed on. "I have nothing to do with ticket pricing," she tweeted on Feb. 27. "Manchester Pride sets those rates, and they're mostly out of my control… I want to celebrate and support this community, regardless of my identity or how people label me. And also I wanna visit a city that means so much to me."
Ariana Grande kicked off her "Sweetener" world tour at the Times Union Center in Albany, New York, on March 18. The singer is scheduled to perform 52 shows in North America and 29 shows in Europe through October 2019. Her concerts gave gotten rave reviews from critics who've said the tour is " full of emotional drama, iconic looks and undeniable hits."
Ariana Grande headlined the Coachella stage on Day 3 of the annual music festival on April 14, 2019. She brought out collaborator Nicki Minaj at one point, but the special guests who got more attention were four members of *NSYNC. Joey Fatone, Lance Bass, JC Chasez and Chris Kirkpatrick appeared while Ariana sang her hit "Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I'm Bored" (which samples the boy band's "It Makes Me Ill") and also performed their own hit "Tearin' Up My Heart." Though Ariana show certainly made headlines, reaction to her special guests was mixed, with Variety summing it up with this headline: "Ariana Grande Bring 4/5ths of 'N Sync to Coachella, and Fans Respond With … 'N Decision."