On an album full of stunning vocal arrangements, catchy hooks, and infectiously danceable beats, the most impactful moment of the Ariana Grande’s Sweetener comes at the end. The last song, “Get Well Soon,” concludes with 40 seconds of silence for the 22 people who were killed in the terrorist attack following Grande’s Manchester concert in May 2017. The moment of silence brings the song's length to exactly 5:22, the date of the attack which injured more than 500 people.
“It’s just about being there for each other and helping each other through scary times and anxiety,” Grande said of “Get Well Soon” during a Beats 1 interview with Ebro Darden. The singer went on to explain how the song speaks to larger themes of battling personal demons, anxiety, and intimate tragedies. The lyrics are transparent and honest; Grande hides nothing behind her words. “My life is so controlled by the what if's / (Girl, what’s wrong with you? Come back down) / Is there anybody else whose mind does this, mmm?” she sings in the second verse. In the refrain she leaves listeners with a message of hope and support. “Well here's one thing you can trust, yuh / It takes you and me to make us / One of those days you had enough, I'll be there.”
Since the heartbreaking attack last year, Grande has dealt with anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder, subjects she addresses repeatedly throughout Sweetener. "Mental health is so important. People don’t pay enough mind to it because we have jobs and schedules and things to do, and are trying to keep up. People don’t pay attention to what's inside,” Grande explained to Darden through tears.
Grande has spoken publicly about the Manchester attack numerous times. Two weeks after the tragedy, the singer returned to the city to put on the One Love Manchester benefit concert, where she honoured the victims while raising a total of £17 million for their families.
The singer explained to Darden that her life has changed since the attack and expressed how she wishes it were different. Now, wherever she goes, she is followed by a security team. Metal detectors are used at all of her concerts. “The truth is, it’s fucking scary going anywhere. You look at places differently...You don’t want to give in, but it’s so scary,” said Grande.
Concerts are supposed to be a safe place where people can come and enjoy the music and artists that they love. With her heartfelt tribute and moment of silence, Grande has reminded us of the importance of that space.
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