Ariana Grande didn’t perform at the Grammys this year, but she did perform at iHeartRadio Music Awards tonight. Grande was not physically at the award show. As Pharrell Williams explained on stage, Grande is days from her tour beginning and couldn’t make it as she prepares for it. But she pre-taped her acceptance speech for the Artist of the Year award. “I am so honored,” she said, holding the award. “I will sleep with this tonight.”
She also pre-taped an intimate performance of her next Thank U, Next single “Needy” for the show. It was a good teaser of what’s ahead on her Sweetener world tour, which starts next Monday, March 18.
Footage of Grande singing quickly spread to social media:
Grande let fans know ahead of the show that she would be missing it, so her absence is no surprise. “Thank u @iheartradio for having us on the show,” she wrote on her Instagram at the end of February. “We’re so honored and excited for u to hear what we did and to be there in spirit (just know that while you’re enjoying our televised performance i’ll be running around like a fucking maniac during our final dress rehearsals)… tune in march 14 🌫 love u.”
Grande was up for several honors tonight. Her nominations include Female Artist of the Year, Best Fan Army (for her Arianators), Best Lyrics (for “Thank U, Next”), Best Cover Song (“Natural Woman”), Best Music Video (“Thank U, Next”), Song That Left Us Shook (“Thank U, Next”), and Cutest Musician’s Pet (well, technically it’s her pig, Piggy Smallz, who is up for that one).
This is Grande’s first big award show of 2019. Her decision to skip the Grammys because she and the producers clashed over her potential performance there made headlines last month. Grande won her very first Grammy that night and showed the Zac Posen dress she had planned to wear on her Instagram during the ceremony.
Grande also made it clear publicly why she decided to skip the Grammys ceremony. On Twitter the Friday before the ceremony, Grande wrote to the Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich that “it was when my creativity & self expression was stifled by you, that I decided not to attend. I hope the show is exactly what you want it to be and more.”