“I don’t know what to say y’all, I’m too excited,” Ariana Grande blushed between songs during an intimate performance to preview her new album, “Dangerous Woman,” which drops May 20.
The performance took place inside the Angel Orensanz Center, a mid-19th century synagogue on New York’s Lower East Side. Since it was converted to a multi-purpose venue in the mid-’80s, the space has been the backdrop of Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick’s wedding, as well as performances from stars like Florence + the Machine, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey.
A video of Grande’s performance will drop simultaneously with the pop star’s album, as part of the “Vevo Presents” series of live performances. Her set included a few crowd-pleasing hits like an acoustic version of “Problem” and “Love Me Harder,” but mostly featured songs from Grande’s upcoming third studio album.
The teen idol-turned-pop star sauntered around the stage in front of a small crowd of screaming devotees. She even accepted a piece of fan art — a drawing of Grande in a latex bunny-ear mask — and placed it in her pocket.
Between songs she laughed and engaged in banter. Grande also rubbed her eyes, sipped from a hot pink water bottle, and at one point threw up the hood on her pink jacket like Rocky Balboa, preparing to emerge victorious.
But Grande’s sultry, laid-back pop star persona comes secondary to her phenomenal vocal facility. The album’s impressive list of collaborators including Nicki Minaj and Macy Gray were hardly missed during the singer’s solo performance (backed by six dancers). Grande riffed and belted her way through the hour-long set, at times effortlessly entering her whistle register.
And the singer’s vocals weren’t the only technical achievement — cameras projected 3D-mapped images onto the synagogue’s elaborate and intricately designed walls. During her performance of the song “Dangerous Woman,” the backdrop burst into flames for rapturous effect. For her encore, Grande strapped on Mi.Mu gloves, (created in collaboration with Imogen Heap), which she has used in past performances to manipulate her voice.
In the pop music industry’s recent divide between surprise releases (Beyonce’s “Lemonade,” Drake’s “Views”) and a gradual, track-by-track release leading to the official drop (Justin Bieber’s “Purpose”), Grande falls into the latter camp.
She is premiering tracks individually on Apple Music leading up to the official release, and four songs from the album — “Dangerous Woman,” “Be Alright,” “Let Me Love You” and “Into You” — are already on Spotify. She has also premiered 36 Instagram posts (where she currently has over 72 million followers) in the past ten days alone with presumably more to come — 28 of which are videos previewing snippets of the record.
After the performance, Grande tweeted “tell me why you know every word already. I love you from the bottom of my heart, Ny. what a special night.”