Ariana Grande loves going on Jimmy Fallon’s Tonight Show. She does it all the time. It seems to be the place where Grande, currently probably the biggest non-rapping pop star in the world, seems most comfortable in public. Last night, Grande was once again on the show. We already posted the first thing that she did: She joined former Saturday Night Live cast members Fallon, Horatio Sanz, Tracy Morgan, and Chris Kattan for a performance of the 18-year-old SNL nugget “I Wish It Was Christmas Today.” (This will probably be the closest thing to an SNL sketch or performance that Grande will do as long as Pete Davidson is on the show.) Grande didn’t sing at all, which was pretty funny. But she did sing later in the show. She sang like a motherfucker.
Last week, Grande released the new luxuriant R&B ballad “Imagine.” It is not, thank fuck, a John Lennon cover. Instead, it’s a lush soul jam that gives plenty of room for Grande to flex her considerable vocal chops. And on last night’s Tonight Show, Grande sang it live for the first time. She sang the hell out of it, too.
The Roots, Fallon’s house band, backed Grande up. It doesn’t always make sense when they give live accompaniment to the show’s musical guests. But last night, it sure did. “Imagine” is, after all, a ’70s-style soul song, and the Roots know their ’70s soul backwards and forward. And Grande put on a vocal clinic, even hitting the beyond-falsetto high notes at the end, doing the young-Mariah dolphin-squeak thing. Watch it below.
“Imagine” is out now, and there is reportedly a new Grande album looming imminent.