Ariana Grande is on the cover of Elle's August 2018 issue, where she gives a revealing interview that incudes her candid thoughts on the tragic massacre that happened at her 2017 concert in Manchester, England. The issue, which arrives on newsstands on July 24, uses Grande's song "God Is a Woman" as a headline on the cover. The article also gives the first public details about more songs on Grande's Sweetener album, which is set for release on Aug. 17. The album's complete tracklist has not yet been announced.
The lives of Grande and thousands of other people were changed forever on May 22, 2017, when a killer set off a bomb at Grande's concert at Manchester Arena. The massacre killed 23 people (including the bombing suspect) and physically injured about 140 others. Grande tells Elle that she briefly considered never performing again after the tragedy, but then decided that the right thing to do to honor the victims would be organize and perform at a charity show in Manchester. The One Love Manchester benefit concert took place at Manchester's Old Trafford Cricket Ground on June 4, 2017, and had an all-star roster of performers, including Grande, Katy Perry, Coldplay, Justin Bieber, Pharrell Williams, Miley Cyrus, Robbie Williams, Take That, Black Eyed Peas, Little Mix, Niall Horan, Liam Gallagher and Marcus Mumford. The concert, which was televised and livestreamed worldwide, benefited the We Love Manchester Emergency Fund, and ultimately raised about $23 million, according to Billboard.
In the Elle interview, Grande began crying when talking about the Manchester tragedy, and had this to say about mass murders and senseless violence: "You hear about these things ... But experiencing something like that firsthand, you think of everything differently." She also opened up about how the trauma took a toll on her mentally and physically: “When I got home from tour, I had really wild dizzy spells, this feeling like I couldn’t breathe. I would be in a good mood, fine and happy, and they would hit me out of nowhere. I’ve always had anxiety, but it had never been physical before. There were a couple of months straight where I felt so upside down.”
Although the interview was conducted in May, before Grande's quick engagement to "Saturday Night Live" cast member Pete Davidson, there are hints that Grande's experience with tragedy has affected her outlook on love. Grande's mother, Joan, was interviewed for the article, and had this to say about how the Manchester tragedy has changed her daughter: "She loves a bit more fearlessly than she did before."
So far, there has been very little information about the songs on Sweetener, other than the release of the singles "No Tears Left to Cry" and "God Is a Woman." According to Elle, the song "God Is a Woman" is not about religion but about sexual empowerment. According to the Elle interview, Grande says her post-traumatic anxiety inspired "Get Well Soon," a track on Sweetener that features Grande's collaboration with Pharrell Williams. Another Sweetener song, "The Light Is Coming" (a song featuring Nicki Minaj, one of Grande's close friends), is described as "a bass-thumping dance track" with the lyrics "The light is coming to give back everything the darkness stole."
In the interview, Grande says that her fans are the main source of her courage and why she's not afraid to speak out on political and social issues that matter to her: "Not everyone is going to agree with you, but that doesn’t mean I’m just going to shut up and sing my songs. I’m also going to be a human being who cares about other human beings; to be an ally and use my privilege to help educate people."