Ariana Grande’s fourth album Sweetener is an introspective and honest look at what it’s like to go through the process of healing from a traumatic event while still being at an age where you are finding yourself and your voice. In celebration of the record’s release, Ariana teamed up with Spotify to create a one of a kind immersive event, where fans have the opportunity to traverse the emotions of the album in a multi-dimensional way.
On Friday night, The DBU team headed down to a pop-up space in the Lower East Side of Manhattan, NYC. When we arrived,the doors in front of us were plastered in Sweetener album posters with coloured lights peaking out of their corners.
In much the same way as “raindrops (an angel cried)” sets the mood for the record, the pastel pink hue that drenched the first room we entered prepared us for the powerful visual experience we were about to walk through. As we turned the corner, the previously bright pink suddenly fell to darkness- with only small specs of white light from the ceiling (slightly resembling stars), leading the way.
“the light is coming” refers to the light at the end of the tunnel- in our case, this was a literal pink light in the next room. After we exited the hallway we were led to a room full of large, cloud-like bean bags. “R.E.M” was represented by a muted coloured palette, bringing us into the dreamy atmosphere of the track. After our time in the clouds, we entered a space that looked like a small stage with a microphone, some flowers, and big mirrors surrounding it. “successful” is meant to celebrate accomplishments from women all around the globe, no matter how big or small. The mirrors were plastered with positive messages; “powerful”, “beautiful”, “limitless”, “loved”.
The next room we entered represented “blazed”. On the track, Ariana speaks of the vastness of the universe within her own mind, which was represented here by a room entirely covered in projections of the universe.“get well soon” took us into a room with a long wall of phones. Fans picked up the phones to hear inspiring and uplifting messages from the artist.
In the next room we found the beautiful painting that represented “God is a woman” displayed across from a set of mirrors, allowing us to become a part of the painting. Next, we found ourselves in the “sweetener” area- a pastel rainforest wonderland, complete with a pond/mirror in the centre. “no tears left to cry”, was represented by a completely upside down room, complete with a fluffy stool on the ceiling.
“breathin” had us surrounded by pink and peach draping cloths. for the “better off” part of the experience people could only enter one at a time. The room was plain white on the outside, only lined with small holes to look through. Inside however, was an abundance of greenery where we could find peace with ourselves and our surroundings, even if only for a moment.
“pete davidson” was represented by a table with a box of locks and markers. A sign on the right side explained to write the name of someone who is important to you, and then – taking inspiration from Paris’ timelessly famous Post des Arts bridge – place the lock on the wall next to the one that Ariana placed earlier in the day for Pete. The “borderline” room, held two swings that seemed to be on opposite sides at first, but easily swung to meet in the middle of the room, as the track suggests that people do in the early stages of their long-lasting relationships.
The experience closed with “goodnight n go”, complete with a neon glowing heart, illuminating a large guest book. In the middle of the open page was a handwritten message from Ariana that read: “I love you. I hope you enjoyed. Always, Ari”. There was a marker placed next to the book for fans to place their own messages to Ariana.
Ariana has positioned herself as a pioneer in the pop music industry, and this collaborative experience continued to prove that and push the borders by examining the ways that music can be experienced. Much like the album, the Sweetener Experience created a space that Ariana and fans can work on their own healing in.