Last month, Ariana Grande’s first studio album, “Yours Truly,” scored a No. 1 debut on the Billboard 200 chart, making the 20-year-old Nickelodeon star just the 15th solo female artist to guide her first full-length to the top of the Billboard 200 in its debut week. “Yours Truly” includes a score of engaging, R&B-inflected tracks such as the Top 10 hit “The Way,” but the real takeaway from Grande’s debut is the young singer’s far-reaching vocal range, which has invited Mariah Carey comparisons and bodes well for her career longevity.
Before Grande became a music star, she drew inspiration from a wide-ranging list of female vocal artists in a variety of genres and time periods. As part of Pop Shop’s ongoing “Gimme Five” series, Grande listed the five female artists she most looks up to, and described their personal importance. Check out Ariana’s answers below:
1. Imogen Heap
Ariana Grande: I’m absolutely her number one fan. I appreciate her musicality so much. Her brain is a musical heaven. Every single part of each of her songs is so intricate and I just can’t get enough of her. I love music more than anything, and she’s just a big cloud of music happiness and harmonies and sounds. I just want to live in her brain forever.
Her voice is heaven. It’s so soothing, and her lyrics are so healing and delicious. Her music makes me feel like everything is going to be okay, you know? Like I feel like my best girlfriend is singing to me and giving me life advice. I love that feeling of comfort and warmth I get when I listen to her.
3. Judy Garland
I grew up watching videos of her concerts and her movies. Every day my mom and I would watch a different Judy Garland VHS. I love how she tells a story when she sings. It was just about her voice and the words she was singing — no strings attached or silly hair or costumes, just a woman singing her heart out. I feel like that doesn’t happen that much anymore.
4. Whitney Houston
Whitney holds such a special place in my heart. She inspired me to start singing as a little girl. I’d watch “The Bodyguard” and tell my mom I wanted to do that one day. Her riffs are so precise and I love her tone. She’s my inspiration.
I’m obsessed with the sweetness of her voice and I love her songs. Her riffs are also incredibly on point. Nothing excites me more than an extraordinarily precise run. I also met her once and she was just as sweet as can be. As you can imagine, I’ve watched the “Cinderella” with Whitney and Brandy a million times!