Did you REALLY need that guest verse? Ariana Grande featuring Mac Miller – The Way
I don’t think the question of whether Ariana Grande NEEDS Mac Miller’s guest verse on her debut single, The Way, is very hard. Here’s a set of premises which answer it empirically:
PREMISE: The objective merit of any pop song increases exponentially with each mention of Bruce Almighty.
PREMISE: Mac Miller raps the line “Bruce Almighty, that’s groovy” in Ariana Grande’s The Way.
CONCLUSION: The objective merit of Ariana Grande’s The Way increased exponentially with the inclusion of Mac Miller’s line “Bruce Almighty, that’s groovy.”
All right. I think we’re done here.
Ahhh fuck. He’s doing that thing again, isn’t he? He’s looking at me disappointedly, right?
He does this sometimes, don’t worry. Just hold still. Be quiet and don’t move for a few seconds. He’ll go away, it just takes some time..
Okay, I think we’re goo—
He wants me to write more. Okay, fine.
Well did you ever watch that show The Starter Wife? You know, the one with Debra Messing? On USA? No? Really?.. I’m kidding, neither did I. But anyway, I saw some commercials for it once and I bring it up because Mac Miller is basically the Starter Rapper. He’s that rare, potent combination of totally mainstream (MTV reality show) yet still actually pretty underground (he’s never released a radio single), super marketable (cute and cuddly and white!) yet not exactly rated PG (a few too many weed references). In other words, he’s exactly what every 20-ish person wants to be: making money but not selling out. More relevantly, he’s exactly what a Nickelodeon tween princess making her debut on adult radio wants to be, and Ariana grabs him and holds tight so he can shore up (and sex up) her dreamy, almost-Mariah-but-definitely-not-quite single.
Mac, for his part, is more than willing to be used this way, since hey, he’s been hustling for a few years now and probably understands the value of a radio bump before his own new album drops on June 18. In his two verses, he grounds the song with a much-needed dose of humor. You see, “The Way” of Ariana’s title is more fully rendered in the song’s chorus as “The way you love me,” as in, “I love the way / the way you love me.” That’s charming coming from John Michael Montgomery, but it all seems a little too much, too soon coming from a nineteen year old. Lyrics simply too heavy for those airy vocals. Luckily though, there’s a playfully bouncing beat underneath them, and when Ariana takes a breather, Mac jumps on it with his own playful lines about picking petals off flowers, hitting him up on the “celly,” and of course, watching Bruce Almighty. It’s the requisite amount of condescension for any rapper appearing on a teenage pop star’s track, an art that was perfected by Ludacris in Bieber’s Baby.
But of course Mac on The Way is unlike Luda on Baby in a few key ways. Mac’s not as as established as Luda, he’s not as far away in age from his pop star as Luda, and well, much unlike Luda, he’s ostensibly trying to play the role of his pop star’s love interest. So Mac does what he needs to do by delicately balancing out the fun-poking lines with some “I’m-acknowledging-the-fact-that-we-could-legally-be-having-sexy-times-together” lines, sampling from Big Pun (“I ain’t a player / I just–“) and mentioning how all this Bruce Almighty viewing happens to be taking place in his bed. He doesn’t come up all aces (the last line about Ariana being an adventure that he needs to explore comes up particularly flat–was it supposed to be cheesy or sexy?), but he generally does a good job walking the fine line between teasing Ariana the tween princess and heralding Ariana the new pop goddess. Thanks to his guest verses and the simple fact that he’s Mac Miller, the Starter Rapper, Ms. Grande is getting fitted for the big crown.
All right! Rating: 8.5 out of 10.