Ariana Grande performs at the Grammy Awards.
Ariana Grande performs at the Grammy Awards. Photographer: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

Ariana Grande Is the Biggest Pop Star in the World

Ariana Grande is the first pop diva of the streaming generation.

Many of today’s top female pop stars, such as Taylor Swift and Lady Gaga, first rose to stardom when iTunes was king and only broke out in the streaming universe this year. Others, who have recently arrived at the peak of the industry, like Dua Lipa and Billie Eilish, can’t match Grande’s overall track record. Grande has now released five albums that topped the Billboard charts.

Her latest, “Positions,” was the best-selling album of November thanks to the popularity of her music on streaming services. Last month, Grande’s songs generated more than 493 million streams on Spotify, more than double any other act.

She also received more than 165 million views on YouTube. Her top countries span the planet, including Thailand, Indonesia, Mexico, Peru, the Philippines, Brazil and the U.S.

All of which was enough to earn Grande the top spot on Bloomberg’s new Pop Star Power Rankings. In a year dominated by Korean pop, reggaeton and dead rappers, Grande joins Lady Gaga and Cardi B as one of the few active U.S. acts to top the charts.

Grande, who grew up in Florida, first rose to fame as the star on a pair of Nickelodeon TV shows. She released her debut album, “Yours Truly,” in 2013. Her next two albums, “My Everything” and “Dangerous Woman,” performed well. But it was her fourth, “Sweetener,” in 2018 that established her as one of the biggest pop stars in contemporary music. Nine different songs from the album cracked Billboard’s Hot 100.

Grande’s ascent has been shaken at times by personal and professional tragedy. In 2017, she was touring in Manchester, U.K. when a suicide bomber killed 23 people and wounded more than 800 as fans were leaving her concert. Last year, her ex-boyfriend Mac Miller died of a drug overdose.

In 2019, her follow-up record, “thank u, next,” set records on Spotify. Grande became the first solo act to ever occupy the top three spots on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. Grande was one of the 10 best-selling acts in the world in both 2018 and 2019.

“Ariana is not just a powerhouse performer, she knows her voice, her audience and never sacrifices her authenticity in everything she touches,” said Scooter Braun, the founder of SB Projects, which represents Grande. “That’s why she continues to break records and top the charts with each new release.”

“Positions” hasn’t quite matched the popularity of her two previous records, but it still reflects her global, cross-platform appeal. Grande was one of the 10 most popular acts on Instagram last month and remains the second most-followed person in the world.

“Positions” combines her newfound sexual bravado with the vocal virtuosity that has always defined her music. New York Magazine critic Craig Jenkins writes that the album “ups the ante, seeking to dethrone the Weeknd’s After Hours for the title of the year’s horniest quarantine album.”