Skip To Content
The Schmooze

Ariana Grande’s ‘7 Rings’ — Satire Or A Big Misstep?

How do you solve a problem like a young female pop artist?

Singer Ariana Grande is known for sex anthems, public breakups, and hair dos that conjure up a horse’s backside, so perhaps you should be forgiven for dismissing her as a person not to be taken seriously.

No forgiveness will come from these quarters, though — in the past six months Grande has become one of the most influential figures alive. Early Friday morning, the 25-year-old dropped her newest single “7 Rings,” a grotesque orgy of consumption that is a take on Rogers and Hammerstein’s “My Favorite Things” from “The Sound Of Music.” The song immediately assumed the number one place on the iTunes chart, and the music video rounded the 11 million view mark in about as many hours.

But under the slick pulsing of the reworked musical theater number, it seems, are more raindrops than roses. The song and accompanying video celebrate the unrestrained consumption of multimillionaire status-seekers. Apparently inspired by the day a heartbroken Grande tipsily purchased herself and six best friends diamond Tiffany rings, the song takes such an audacious approach to spending that it seems as likely to disgust as to inspire. Grande’s ambition to cross over from love and sex chanteuse to the type of rapper who luxuriates in possessions feels risky; the gambit seems just as likely to inspire her fans as to remind them that they may be renting cribs for the rest of their life, unlike Grande who, at 24, “bought a crib just for the closet.”

Like most of her music, “7 Rings” draws an eyelash-thin line between Grande’s own success and general female empowerment. But this song exits the realm of bubble gum pop and white girl R&B, and enters a land governed by Nicki Minaj and Cardi B — powerful black women whose music and personal brands are in conversation with hip hop culture. By rapping about “red bottom [shoes],” her “crib,” and “receipts,” Grande borrows audaciously from marginalized performers’ art. Loud whispers about the fact that Grande’s wigs, fake tans, diamond grills, and even manner of speaking allow her to monetize black culture without being black will only intensify now, especially given that Grande has already been accused by artist Princess Nokia of plagiarizing her song “Mine.” Princess Nokia’s song is a celebration of women of color’s hair. Grande’s plays on the idea of purchasing her own hair.

“Sounds about white,” Princess Nokia snapped in a response video.

To underestimate Ariana Grande’s formidable mind would be yet another mistake. You can have a voice like a siren and a waist like a pencil, but it’s just not possible to become Ariana Grande by accident. A master at social media and a genius impersonator with a knack for spinning narratives from her life that work to her advantage (see: this “Thank U, Next” album is a literal monetization of her breakup,) Grande may be outsmarting us.

“7 Rings” is so viciously materialist it reads in places like a parody of consumption. “Happiness is the same price as red bottoms,” she sings, after extolling her “retail therapy addiction.” Grande has been so open about her real struggles with mental health that this flip approach smells satirical. Is there any chance this number — which after all plays on a classic tune about finding joy in small moments and simple objects — is a clever commentary on gratuitous capitalist culture?

Or maybe, it’s just a miscalculation.

Jenny Singer is the deputy lifestyle editor for the Forward. You can reach her at [email protected] or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny

I hope you appreciated this article. Before you go, I’d like to ask you to please support the Forward’s award-winning, nonprofit journalism during this critical time.

Now more than ever, American Jews need independent news they can trust, with reporting driven by truth, not ideology. We serve you, not any ideological agenda.

At a time when other newsrooms are closing or cutting back, the Forward has removed its paywall and invested additional resources to report on the ground from Israel and around the U.S. on the impact of the war, rising antisemitism and the protests on college campuses.

Readers like you make it all possible. Support our work by becoming a Forward Member and connect with our journalism and your community.

Make a gift of any size and become a Forward member today. You’ll support our mission to tell the American Jewish story fully and fairly. 

— Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Publisher and CEO

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.