2018 has been big for Ariana Grande, to say the least. After tragedy struck her Manchester concert last year, the musician made a comeback with Sweetener, which acknowledged her healing process with "No Tears Left to Cry" and triumphantly embraced femininity in tracks like "God is a Woman." At the same time, Grande experienced a buzzy five-month romance (which was mostly an engagement) with Pete Davidson, and while it ended in October, she bounced back just weeks later with "Thank U, Next," the lead single to a forthcoming album of the same name which discusses lessons she learned from all her former relationships. After so much activity, it seems unsurprising that Billboard just named the pop artist its 2018 Woman of the Year.
In receiving the honor, the musician joins 11 other influential women in music including Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, and Madonna. Billboard uses Woman of the Year, the main award of its Women in Music event, to recognize artists who inspire other women to take on additional responsibility within the field, and with Grande's continual success, it's easy to see why she's the latest winner. Sweetener, especially with "God is a Woman," celebrates unapologetic female sexuality, and "Thank U, Next" could not be a bolder way to make a statement at the end of a highly publicized (and criticized) engagement.
While the feminist themes in Grande's music, as well as her chart-topping success, are the main reasons she earned the award, the star has also been using her platform to support causes. The star organized a benefit event, One Love Manchester, to aid victims and families of last year's concert attack, she took part in March for Our Lives in support of gun control, and she consistently advocates on social media for issues including LGBTQ equality and Black Lives Matter. In an age of political unrest, and with Billboard announcing the award on election day, it seems an activist star such as Grande is a perfect choice.
It seems that next month, the Women in Music gala will be full of Ariana-inspired energy as the 2014 Rising Star award winner achieves the night's biggest title four years later. Stand by for whether Grande proclaims "Thank u, next!" during her acceptance speech before fiercely walking off the stage.