Ariana Grande is a one-of-a-kind singer. She has a range that far surpᴀsses the majority of her contemporaries. Her records have sold extremely high numbers and her music videos have millions of views online. Over the years, she has amᴀssed a large following thanks to her very successful music career. However, Grande will soon be heading into the acting realm.
She will star as Glinda in the upcoming film adaptation of the hit musical Wicked. It tells the story of the 1995 novel by Gregory Maguire, “Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West.” Premiering in 2004, it tells the backstory of the Wicked Witch of the West and Glinda the Good Witch. It’s a prequel, in a sense, of The Wizard of Oz.
Grande has long said she wanted to play this role and her involvement in the film is a full-circle moment.
Ariana Referenced ‘Wicked’ On Her First Album
When Grande was making her first album, she faced pressure from her record label to go in a bubblegum pop direction. This was largely due to her role on the Nickelodeon series Sam & Cat. She released a song in 2012 called “Put Your Hearts Up” which sampled “What’s Up” by the group 4 Non Blondes. Grande didn’t include it on her debut album, because she decided to go in a more R&B direction.
One song she did include on her debut album, however, was “Popular Song,” her duet with singer Mika. The song was originally written and recorded by Mika for his album, “The Origin of Love.” The original version features vocals from singer-songwriter Priscilla Renea. Grande replaced Renea in the single version. Like “Put Your Hearts Up,” this track also featured a sample. That sample being the song “Popular” from Wicked.
The original “Popular” was written by Stephen Schwartz and it features Glinda trying to help Elphaba, her unpopular roommate, become popular. The song Mika did with Grande, however, flips this idea around and becomes and anti-bullying anthem. The message being that you don’t need to become popular, but rather, you should just be yourself.
A Look Back At Ariana Grande’s Music Career
Grande’s debut album, “Yours Truly,” was very successful. It included the single, “The Way,” with Mac Miller. It also included a duet with Big Sean, “Right There,” who would become a significant collaborator on Grande’s second album. During this time, Grande received many comparisons to fellow singer Mariah Carey, for their similar vocal range and musical styles. Her first album blended 90s R&B with songs that were inspired by 50s doo-wop.
Her second album “My Everything” was even more successful This was the album that showed audiences that Grande had the potential to grow beyond her Nickelodeon image. She had a huge hit with “Problem,” which featured Iggy Azalea. There was also the song “One Last Time,” which would receive major radio play.
Grande had released a single called “Focus” from her upcoming third album which was to be тιтled “Moonlight.” However, many felt it was too similar to “Problem,” so Grande switched gears and the album’s тιтle was changed to “Dangerous Woman.” This included the hits “Into You” and “Side to Side” with Nicki Minaj. This album signaled a big growth and step forward for Grande.
On her next album, “Sweetener,” Grande added some depth into her lyrics, discussing her anxiety and mental health. She also experimented musically, resulting in a body of work that has become quite divisive among fans. It also contained less pop influences and was closer to true R&B music. This pattern would continue on albums like “Thank U, Next” and “Positions.”
What We Know About The Upcoming Film
The long-awaited film adaptation of Wicked has been discussed as early as 2012. Ten years later, it is finally happening. Crazy RIch Asians and In The Heights director John M. Chu has been hired to direct the upcoming film.
“Most of my life I have felt out of place, weird and different,” Chu wrote on his Instagram. “I hid behind my camera because people liked to be filmed and I could disappear. I used my short films to wow people so I could feel valued. I felt GREEN in all the ways. But when I saw Stephen Schwartz and Winnie Holzman’s WICKED over 15 years ago as it was being workshopped in San Francisco I couldn’t unsee it. So to think that I have been invited to bring this timeless story to the biggest screens all around the world for people to experience with their family, best friends and total strangers … of all walks of life, ages, shapes and colors is like I’ve been invited to Oz by the Wizard himself.”
Grande has been cast as Glinda and Cynthia Erivo has landed the role of Elphaba. The role is a dream-come-true for Grande, who tweeted in 2011, “Loved seeing Wicked again… amazing production! Made me realize again how badly I want 2 play Glinda at some point in my life! #DreamRole.”
While the film will include many of the songs audiences remember from the original musical, Schwartz revealed that he plans to write “at least two” new songs for the film. He also told Variety in May 2017 that the film won’t be exactly like the Broadway show.
“There are things that work on stage but won’t work on film. In order to do something that will work on its own merits, you have to do something different,” he said. “The only concern is people who would be coming expecting to see a filmed version of the play. They’re not going to see that.”
Plus, as if one Wicked film weren’t enough, Chu revealed in April that the film adaptation would be split into two movies.
“Here’s what happened: As we prepared the production over the last year, it became impossible to wrestle the story of WICKED into a single film without doing some real damage to it,” he wrote on Twitter. “As we tried to cut songs or trim characters, those decisions began to feel like fatal compromises to the source material that has entertained us all for so many years. We decided to give ourselves a bigger canvas and make not just one WICKED movie but TWO!!!! With more space, we can tell the story of WICKED as it was meant to be told while bringing even more depth and surprise to the journeys for these beloved characters.”
In September 2022, Jonathan Bailey from Bridgerton was confirmed by Chu as playing the role of Fiyero. Grande also posted a picture to her Instagram of her new blonde hair for the film.
The film is set to be released in December 2024, while its sequel is set to be released in December 2025. This seems like the role of a lifetime for Grande and based on her level of talent, it’s clear she’ll hit this one out of the park.