One of the First Aretha Franklin Tributes Comes Courtesy of Ariana Grande
Fact: Aretha Franklin’s six-decade career will never be forgotten. How could it be, considering Rolling Stone once named her the Greatest Singer of All Time? While the world continued to mourn her death — Franklin died of advanced pancreatic cancer on Thursday — the producers at The Tonight Show scrambled to whip together a tribute that stood up to her legacy.
Luckily, Ariana Grande delivered.
Originally scheduled for a comedy sketch pegged to the release of her latest album, Sweetener, Grande was hesitant to perform a Franklin track when producers approached her with the idea. According to TMZ, she was too emotional to hit the stage, but Questlove convinced her she was fit for the job. Moments later, Grande opened the show with a rendition of “(You Make Me Feel) A Natural Woman” alongside The Roots.
After shedding a tear while singing, she chatted with host Jimmy Fallon about the many ways in which Franklin influenced her. “I met her a few times. We sang at the White House and she was so sweet, she was so cute,” she told Fallon. “It’s an honor to have met her.”
Earlier on Thursday, Grande shared several Instagram posts in honor of Franklin.
After honoring her, Grande discussed the buzziest song on Sweetener, a track called “Pete Davidson." Yep, she talked about how her fiancé inspired the song, explaining its origin. "I just made it and I sent it to him, and I didn’t know what to call it. So I just called it ‘Pete,'" she said. "It was either going to be that, or ‘This Is About Pete Davidson’ … I was like, ‘Why not?’ You know? You should be direct."
She also dropped more intel about their relationship and revealed she knew they’d be together forever since meeting on the set of Saturday Night Live in 2016. "I left his writers’ room when we were writing skits and stuff for the show, and my tour manager was in the hallway, and I’m not a crushy person, like I don’t have crushes on people I don’t know, but I left and I like jokingly said to my tour manager, ‘I’m marrying him. 100 percent. I’m literally marrying him,'" she said "And we weren’t even friends [at that time]."
The track is obviously a sweet love song and while the entire concept isn’t the most original, we truly can’t stop bopping to it. The lyrics read:
I thought you into my life,
(Woah) Look at my mind, yeah
No better place or time
(Look) How they align
Universe must have my back
Fell from the sky into my lap
And I know you know
That you’re my soulmate and all that