Ariana Grande is not mincing words about the substance of some of her earlier singles. Specifically, that they don't quite live up to the standards of her newest albums, Sweetener and Thank U, Next. But when it comes to the question of whether her music is suitable for young fans, the pop star isn't having it. Grande's response to whether "Side To Side" is too sexy for young girls is hilariously on-point — even if parents might be clutching their pearls after hearing what she has to say about it.
Grande is featured on the August 2019 cover of Vogue alongside her dog Toulouse, and she spoke to the magazine about coming into her own as an artist over the past year. “There was a two-album period where I was doing half the songs for me and half the songs to solidify my spot in pop music. A lot of my singles have been hilariously lacking in substance," Grande admitted to Vogue. "You’re talking to someone who put ‘Side to Side’ out as a single. I love that song, but it’s just a fun song about sex.”
The track, off 2016's Dangerous Woman and featuring Nicki Minaj, is definitely a sexy single with an even sexier video featuring a hot-pink clad Grande getting her SoulCycle on. But are even the more tame lyrics like "Boy got me walkin' side to side," too sexy for the nine-year-olds who show up to her concerts to be singing along with? Grande gave Vogue an emphatic no, not at all. In fact, the song might be a good opportunity for parents to open up a dialogue.
“They’re for sure gonna have it. I promise. I promise that your kid’s gonna have sex," Grande told the magazine. "So if she asks you what the song’s about, talk about it.”
That comment shows how Grande's music works on two levels. Sure, "Side By Side" is sexy, but it's also empowering and inspiring to see a woman sing (and speak) so openly about sex. It's also how Grande, the pop star, works. Sure, she's sexy, wearing her iconic high ponytail, and thigh-high boots, but she pairs this carefully curated image with incredibly personal songs. "The music is very personal and very real," she said, "but yes, if you can be me for Halloween, if drag queens can dress up as me, then I’m a character."
Pharrell Williams, who worked with Grande on Sweetener, agreed that she is a character, but one that people should take seriously. “She’s like an R-rated version of a Disney character, super-vivid,” he said. “But she’s full of self-awareness. That meta-cognition is part of her personality.”
Being outspoken about what she believes in is also part of Grande's persona. She's a powerful ally of the LGBTQ+ community, and after the Manchester Arena attack, she became a gun control advocate. Not to mention, she's never afraid to speak her mind about how she feels about Donald Trump. Safe to say, she's not a fan. “I would rather sell fewer records and be outspoken about what I think is some f*ckery than sell more records and be... Switzerland," Grande said about her decision to be openly political. "Am I allowed to say that?I love Switzerland. The fake wokes are waiting to attack!”
It's possible that some will also fight back against her comments on "Side To Side." Let's assume Grande will have something to say about that, too, and there should be no doubt that her fans will be listening.