Should Ariana Grande Be On Tour Right Now?
It's no secret that Ariana Grande has experienced more than anyone's fair share of trauma over the past few years.
From the Manchester bombing at her concert, which took the lives of 22 people, to a series of high profile personal traumas, Ariana has been open about her struggles with mental health in the wake of all of this.
She's spoken about suffering from PTSD and anxiety and penned songs about her mental health along the way, which feature on Sweetener and thank u, next, released within six months of one another. Between the release of the two albums she had a high profile romance, engagement and break up from SNL comedian Pete Davidson, and experienced the loss of her ex-boyfriend of two years, Mac Miller, when he died of a fatal overdose in September.
It would be enough to turn anyone's world upside down, but now, Ariana's back on the road once again, after kicking off her Sweetener World Tour in Albany, USA on March 18, 2019. But, should she really be on tour? In the 11 days since the tour kicked off, Twitter has been flooded with fan videos of the 25-year-old singer breaking down on stage, struggling to get through performances and openly crying, unable to sing.
The videos are heartbreaking to watch, and fans have been empathetic toward the singer, especially as reports circulate social media that she hasn't made it through a show without crying. Ariana has acknowledged that it's been "difficult singing some of these songs" and thanked fans for "accepting [her] humanness", while also reiterating that she loves her work and is "grateful" to be on tour.
It's not the first time Ariana has cried on stage. After the Manchester bombing, Ariana cancelled seven concerts, before quickly organising the One Love Manchester benefit concert, and then heading back on the road to complete her Dangerous Woman tour.
As her manager Scooter Braun told Fader in May last year, her decision to continue touring "wasn’t about the money for her", but rather, "showing her fans and the world that she is who she says she is and being strong for them". Clearly still grieving, Ariana often broke down throughout the remainder of the tour, but approached the shows with the idea that her and her fandom were all grieving together and healing together.
There's no question that the motivation to perform both her songs and a public display of strength for her young fanbase comes from a good place, but whether the gruelling, chaotic timeline of back-to-back album releases and tours amid a whirlwind of personal trauma will come crashing down on her remains to be seen.
While Ariana may believe with all her heart that this is where she wants to be and what she wants to be doing, anyone who's struggled with mental health will know that the decisions one makes while not in a great headspace are not always the best decision at the time.
The question, then, becomes one of who Ariana is surrounded by, and the eye is immediately drawn to her manager, Scooter Braun, who is also manager to Justin Bieber.
Currently on hiatus between albums while he goes through an ongoing battle with his own mental health struggles, Justin recently updated fans about the status of his next album.
In the post, he acknowledged that fans "probably saw" that he was "unhappy" while on his Purpose World Tour.
"I’ve toured my whole teenage life, and early 20s," he wrote, noting that neither he nor the fans who pay money to see him "deserve" to be at a show where the singer isn't in a good headspace.
"You pay money to come and have a lively energetic fun light concert and I was unable emotionally to give you that near the end of the tour," he wrote, sharing that he was using the time off to repair "some of the deep rooted issues" he has.
It's a sad revelation, and one that again begs the question, 'Why was he on tour?'
To hear it Scooter's way, this was the 'healthy' Bieber who was ready to tour. In fact, last year Scooter told the Red Pill Podcast that there was a time where Justin had been so unwell that he'd thought the singer would die, and prevented him from going on tour.
"That was the time when I was telling him he’s not allowed to work," he told the podcast. "He used to yell and scream at me and he wanted to put music out. He wanted to tour, but I thought if he did that, he would die. So I just refused. We weren’t making any money, it wasn’t like I was trying to take advantage. I didn’t want him to work, I wanted him to get healthy.”
To read the above Instagram, or the one below in which Justin shared that he's "been struggling a lot" doesn't read like a person who got healthy. Healthier, perhaps, but certainly not well to a point where it's sustainable.
The truth is, pointing fingers does little good in Hollywood, particularly when there are plenty of other cases of celebrities who have been worked into the ground. It's unlikely that Ariana will now cancel the Sweetener World Tour, it's unlikely that Scooter will yank the cord on a tour already set in motion, with millions of dollars on the line. So what can be done?
The only thing that we can control in life is our own actions, so before you hit purchase on your next concert tickets, maybe the answer is to just take a second to consider the artist. Do they want to be there? Should they be there? If the pressure of touring were to have a direct consequence to their health, would you still buy it? Perhaps when facing a giant money-making machine like the music industry, the only way we can show we care, really care, is to withhold our money.
Feature image: Getty Images