Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings,” is inspired by an excursion with her six best friends, during which she bought them Tiffany & Co. engagement rings after her breakup with fiance Pete Davidson. The song and music video celebrate excessive wealth, claiming that “whoever said money can’t solve your problems must not have had enough money to solve ‘em.” This wealth-obsessed mentality eerily reflects the mindset of our current president, who used his net worth as a credential during the 2016 election, such as the inclusion of a “self drafted financial summary of his assets” in his presidential bid in 2015.
The first image from Ariana Grande’s “7 Rings” music video is the license plate “1985.” The 1980s celebrated greed and big business, so it’s no surprise that this was the decade in which Donald Trump became a pop-culture phenomenon. The “7 Rings” video utilizes the ‘80s fashion aesthetic with baggy windbreakers, flashy jewelry and a neon color palette. However, it also plays into the ‘80s obsession with luxury and celebrity that not everyone can attain.
While “7 Rings” is a catchy, empowering tune of a woman getting over a man, it is problematic in it’s casual depiction of wealth. Not everyone can afford a dramatic shopping spree after a breakup. The song starts with the repeated rap “I want, I got it.” Grande’s wealth is assumed in the song, rather than earned through hard work. She flaunts her possessions in the elaborate video, pouring champagne down a tower of glasses and then shattering them all, regardless of the consequences.
“7 Rings” has also come under fire for cultural appropriation. Grande has flirted with this line in the past — her extensions, dark spray tan and usage of slang terms such as “imma” have all been controversial. Princess Nokia and Soulja Boy have both accused Grande of stealing thematic material and rap flow from their songs “Mine,” and “Pretty Boy Swag” respectively.
In “7 Rings,” Grande sings “You like my hair? Gee thanks, just bought it.” Princess Nokia’s “Mine” discusses hair as a form of identity and empowerment for women of color. Grande’s hair is one of privilege, in that she can afford to buy it along with her other possessions referenced in the song. The Japanese imagery in the music video for “7 Rings” has also been debated.
A misunderstanding on Instagram furthered this dilemma. An Instagram follower of Grande’s commented “white women talking about their weaves is how we’re gonna solve racism,” and Grande wrote back “so much love.” On The Shade Room, Grande apologized, claiming “I think her intention was to be like, ‘yay a white person dissociating the negative stereotype.’”
In a political climate in which the government routinely ignores the rights of women, people of color, the LGBTQIA+ community and other minorities, Grande’s ignorance to societal problems and her contribution to them is extremely disappointing. The fact that Grande chose to discuss female empowerment through excess and luxury is ignorant of the everyday lives of her fans.