I’m not happy to tell you this, but Ariana Grande, teen star of the Nickelodeon show Victorious and an upcoming spinoff called Sam & Cat, has released a pretty good single.
It’s called “The Way,” it features a guest rap from Mac Miller, and it’s got an early Ashanti/mid-career Mariah Carey bounce. That’s a compliment, y’all, because “What’s Luv” and “It’s Like That” were the straight up jam. “The Way’s” sexy swagger could get clubs bangin’ in the very same style.
And since the song is currently number one on iTunes, there are going to be about half a million ninth graders swerving to it for the rest of the month.
But here’s the sad part: This means that in another 2-4 years, we will almost inevitably be subjected to the story of Grande’s ill-timed rebellion, horrifying breakdown, or decision to appear in Spring Breakers 2: Alien’s Probe. Because in case you haven’t noticed, almost every single Nick or Disney girl who notches a hit single or major movie franchise goes on to become violent, self-destructive, or tragic. It happened with Lindsay Lohan, who got her start in Disney movies, and it happened to Britney Spears, who started as a Mousketeer. It happened with Miley Cyrus and Demi Lovato, and to a lesser degree, it’s happening to Vanessa Hudgens and Selena Gomez this very week, as they use Spring Breakers to mock their squeaky-clean roots.
Off the top of my head, the only Nick/Disney queens I can think of who gained a decent amount of fame without imploding are Hilary Duff and Ashley Tisdale. Two out of 100 is not a great percentage.
I hope I’m wrong about Ariana Grande, of course. I hope she escapes the cycle that starts with the pressure to seem Disney-perfect and ends with mutilation humiliation. Because the whole thing just gets grosser and grosser: At every turn, it reminds us how hypocritical and dehumanizing our expectations are for young women. They’re supposed to be perfect until they collapse, and then they’re supposed to be fodder for gossip.
Okay, okay. I can chill out. Demi Lovato turned it around, and Miley Cyrus seems to be keeping it together these days. And maybe Ariana Grande can benefit from being several generations along in the cycle. Maybe she can just enjoy her hot hit and her cable series and stay on some kind of reasonably sane course. Maybe she can grow up to be a halfway normal person who never even gets TMZ’s attention.
p.s. — Here’s why Demi Lovato needs to be a bigger pop star. Maybe Grande can turn out like THAT.
Mark Blankenship wasn’t expecting to get on a soapbox, but here we are. He tweets as @IAmBlankenship.