Ariana Grande’s 7 Rings is an empowering anthem, but not without criticism


Everyone needs multiple women empowerment anthems in their playlist. It’s a subtheme that interjects every genre and every playlist, even if the same influential song reminds us of how overdrawn our direct deposit is. And while we’re thankful for Ariana Grande’s new song, “7 Rings,” we can still dissect it.

Ariana Grande released another catchy song celebrating her personal and professional accolades. We’re obviously ecstatic to see Grande memorialize her success and a new appreciation for her singledom — that we only hope to emulate — but beyond “7 Rings’” theme about money, it’s a song about girl power. And, we’re just happy to have another track to bolster our playlist.

Some of us may be all different levels of broke, but one of the few things that connect all of Twitterverse is bopping to songs about being rich and successful.

Our online personas allow us to be a chaotic excuse for an adult and to simultaneously ignore the paradox of listening to an affluent anthem while we sob into our Easy Mac. After all, if it’s catchy, we can overlook the fact that we don’t have enough money to solve one of our problems let alone our lifelong-list of issues. (At least, that’s what we tell ourselves.)

We might not relate to enjoying a snack at Tiffany’s or affording to look at a pair of red bottom heels, but we can jam to the illusion of the luxuries in “7 Rings.”

Sampling “My Favorite Things” by Julie Andrews, from The Sound of Music, Grande’s latest release and music video celebrates women empowerment, accepting independence, and the beauty of female friendship both within the lyrics and behind the scenes.

Early in the song, the message behind “buy myself all of my favorite things” obviously shows fans that she’s shamelessly self-sufficient. This lyric then transitions into her reflection of the personal grief she’s coped with over the past few years, and this turmoil has made her a more tenacious “savage.” As the song commemorates her rise to power in her vocation and personal life, “7 Rings” shifts to the titular meaning: refocusing the loves of her life, her friends, who she features in the music video, as Cosmopolitan reports — and you can see so in the lyrics:

"Wearing a ring but not cause I’m no Mrs.Bought matching diamonds for 6 of my b*tchesI’d rather spoil all my friends with my riches"

Like anything in life, love doesn’t have one definition. Grande uses the archetypal wedding ring references in her lyrics to show the power behind female friendship. Using the song to appreciate her friends also exemplifies the meaning of love, as well as the importance behind arguably our most important soulmates: our friends.

While these themes of empowerment are rippling through the music industry, from Little Mix’s latest album and beyond, some Twitter users have already noticed musical parallels in “7 Rings.”

Most people on the internet have already noticed the throwback similarities between Grande’s chorus and the beat in Soulja Boy’s “Pretty Boy Swag.” Though this could be Grande’s way of paying homage to other musicians, as she does with the “My Favorite Things” sample in the begin of the song, other artists have compared “7 Rings” to both the beat and message in their own work.

Artist Princess Nokia noted in a brief video that “7 Rings” is coincidentally similar to her song “Mine” in more than just one aspect. Released before Grande’s recent track, Princess Nokia played both songs back to back on Twitter to show the resemblance in both songs’ pacing and tone.

The first released song, “Mine,” is similarly empowering for women. However, Princess Nokia’s “Mine” strengthens women of color by celebrating their hair.

Although “7 Rings” isn’t solely about hair, the chorus does include a reference to her hair that parallel’s Princess Nokia’s own chorus. Both songs use hair as an example of reclamation and independence. Granted, “Mine” specifically highlights the power in non-white hair as a central point of Princess Nokia’s song.

There is a number of artists within the industry sampling other creators’ rhythms, messages, tone, or style, and the music industry has created a cycle of artists borrowing or stealing from one another. We aren’t implying that Grande committed musical theft. However, the industry’s notary of artists unintentionally or intentionally borrowing from other artists does create a polarizing hierarchy where the more popular artists get more recognition, and in turn, more money.

According to Digital Music News, the top percentage of musicians also earn 77 percent of the income in the industry. The similarities in Grande’s new release doesn’t explicitly take paychecks away from Princess Nokia or any other artists that she might have sampled from, but it does reinforce a barrier between the top percent of artists and the other approximate 99 percent of artists.

Songs with complementary rhythms and messages are naturally more recognized by top-earnings artists (regardless of their genre). This can make it easier for top-earning artists to draw inspiration from the majority of artists in the industry, simply because the industry favors its leading artists, while any other influential songs go unnoticed.

Although, the similarities behind Grande’s “7 Rings” and Princess Nokia’s “Mine” isn’t the only critique on Grande’s new release.

Before the Grande published her song and music video, some fans questioned the intention behind using Japanese phrases in both the promotional material and the interlude to “7 Rings.”  While the discourse around using the language as an aesthetic for her music is still ongoing, the criticism is valid. Like the divergent opinions on Grande’s promo for the video, “7 Rings” opens an extended discussion regarding copyright in the music industry.

Next. 11 takeaways from Ariana Grande’s Dangerous Woman Diaries. dark

There’s a very narrow line between stealing, sampling, and being inspired by other artists in the music industry, and Ariana Grande’s intentions are unclear, but not without scrutiny. While we can still appreciate the empowering message behind Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings,” we can and should still recognize every other powerful anthem, past, present, and future.