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Hitmaker of the Month: Ariana Grande Collaborator Victoria Monét on ‘Thank U, Next’

Presented by BMI

Victoria Monét is what you’d call an all-around creative. A singer, songwriter and dancer, the Sacramento native is also among Ariana Grande’s go-to collaborators. Most recently, Monet had a hand in constructing Grande’s “Thank U, Next,” which topped the charts in multiple territories upon its November 2018 release, including the United States, the U.K., Australia, Canada and beyond. To date, the song has notched more than 661 million plays on Spotify and its “Mean Girls” -inspired video (in which Monet cameos) has logged over 340 million views.  

“It was a big mix of emotions, a lot of things were happening,” Monét tells Variety of the song which pays tribute to Grande’s real-life exes — namely, the late Mac Miller and former fiance Pete Davidson. “[For] one, she was still healing. Two, she was trying to express and heal through music — but surrounded by friends and a bunch of champagne.” Monet describes the room in which “Thank U, Next” was conceived as “very celebratory and very therapeutic for all of us. We got a lot closer, not just as a group of friends, but in the partnership between the producers and writers.”

Also credited on the track are writers Tayla Parx, Njomza Vitia, Kimberly Krysiuk, Tommy Brown, Michael Foster and Charles Anderson; Brown, Foster and Anderson served as producers.

In an impressive show of single conviction, the record came to fruition in just under two weeks, Monet explains. A month after its recording, Republic Records had already serviced the song to streaming services and radio stations. Says Monet: “I’ve never had music come out so quickly.” In fact, Monet reveals even she didn’t know the song would drop. As she recalls: “Pete did something on SNL. The next morning, Ari’s, like, ‘Victoria, we’re putting out “thank u, next” today!’ I was, like, ‘huh?’ With pop songs, they usually have a three-month roll out. This was not that. She dropped it like a rapper. I was, like, ‘Oh shit okay, we doing this.’”

Monet and Grande go back. “The first session we ever had was two years before her first album, randomly with her and Nick Jonas,” says the songwriter, who’s also credited on Grande’s “7 Rings.” “We ended up really loving each other’s working relationship, but then at some point, the friendship part just trumped the work. We were spending time with each other and not talking about music. It developed into ‘regardless of music, I f–k with you and I love you.’ Music is definitely a cherry on top and a privilege to be able to do with your friend, because it just becomes the most honest work we do.”

When asked about her knack for constructing perfect pop records, Monet insists it’s quite the opposite. “The best records are not perfect,” she says. “They don’t sound digital or like someone applied rules. What resonates with people most is that it’s relatable and human, the flaws may be in the lyrics. It feels like something tangible instead of something photoshopped. Like why are you photoshopping your songs? Why are you critiquing life? Which is imperfect. It’s not even thinking about perfection, just writing whatever you feel honestly.”

With only 12% of working songwriters being women, Monet is pushing for better gender representation in her field and recently appeared on an International Womens’ Day panel called Girls Make Beats alongside Tinashe, PJ and Serayah. “I’m an advocate for women to become more aware of the different positions in the music industry,” says Monet. “Opportunities like this really make a difference and can influence a young girl’s life and carry throughout her career. It’s important for me to be an example of something they dream that could possibly happen.”

As behind-the-scenes players like Parx, Julia Michaels and Benny Blanco are segueing into successful careers as artists, Monet also looks to be heading down a similar path. “It’s only adding fire and confidence to what I’m creating,” she says. “Having a successful record [with] someone else allows you [to get] closer to the dream that you could potentially write something that big for yourself. Looking at it from the outside, there’s nothing better than the position I’m in now. I’m really blessed to be finally here. It’s been a long time coming and it’s grind time. This really cool window of opportunity has opened and if I don’t slip through it right now, it’ll close. I’m just working my ass off trying to make it happen.”

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