After bringing the studio audience to their feet with an emotional tribute to Aretha Franklin's "Natural Woman" on Thursday night (Aug. 16), Ariana Grande made her way to the Tonight Show couch for a chat with Jimmy Fallon about the difficulties sitting down in short shorts and reminisce about a fateful phone call from Franklin, as well as her meet-cute love story with fiance Pete Davidson.
"I'm wearing shorts, I never wear shorts, so I'm just gonna stand," a nervous Grande joked to Fallon as she tried to figure out how to sit with grace in her brief black leather shorts and matching top. "Is that all right, oh my God, am I out? Is it all out?" Fallon put her at ease by throwing his feet up on the desk, thanking the singer for her moving Franklin tribute, which elicited a fond memory from the "No Tears Left to Cry" star about the time she met the late Queen Soul at the White House during the Obama administration; Franklin passed away Thursday morning at age 76.
"We sang at the White House and she was so sweet and she was like so cute and I was like, 'how are you a real person?'," she said. "It's an honor to have met her and we are going to celebrate her." Grande also recalled the one phone call she got from Franklin, during which the soul icon asked Ari to listen to her grandson's song. "I was like, 'Oh my God, I'd be honored to listen! Thank you for thinking me. Just text me the MP3." Franklin, as you might imagine, was not that tech savvy, so a package arrived snail mail several months later.
Speaking texts, Grande also explained that her epic collab with Madonna on the video for her Sweetener "God is a Woman" track came as a result , yes, a text. "Yeah I texted her, which is so cool... I can text with Madonna]," she laughed as Fallon lamented that he does not have those same privileges. "Without Madonna I wouldn't be able to make a song like that. She paved the way for all us and has been here fighting that fight way longer than any us." Ariana described her vision for the cameo -- with Madonna acting as the voice God -- and said Madonna totally got it, fering to jump in the studio in Portugal the very next day. "She's the coolest. She's a bad bitch," Grande said.
The singer -- who went out into the studio audience to hug some super fans who slept out overnight to see her appearance -- talked to Fallon about some her favorite songs on Sweetener, including "Breathin'," which she said is about how she turned an anxiety attack into a killer pop tune. She also revealed that she wrote the ballad "Pete Davidson" a week after the couple started hanging out and then sent it to him and, well, the rest is history.
"We met on SNL two, three years ago," she explained. "We never exchanged numbers or anything, we weren't even friends for a long time. But I had the biggest crush in the whole world on him the whole time." She knew it was love way back then, but never told Davidson how she felt. "I left his writer's room... and] I'm not a crushy person, I don't have crushes on people I don't know. But I jokingly said to my tour manager, 'I'm marrying him. 100 percent.'" Grande also gave an impromptu performance one her faves from the album, "R.E.M."