Counting down the most notable hidden gems in the pop star’s musical resume.
When Ariana Grande releases new music, the world listens. And even when she doesn’t, the world still listens.
Unreleased tracks are tough for the average pop listener to discover. Grande fans are different. They know every song, every lyric and every hidden meaning to her songs, regardless of how practically inaccessible they are.
While listeners may know Grande’s August collaboration with Social House, “Boyfriend” — a top 10 hit on the Billboard Hot 100, they may have never heard of 2012 pre-debut throwaway “Boyfriend Material.” And while they claim 2016 No. 13 hit “Into You” as her opus, they may not be too familiar with the pop powerhouse’s cover of Frank Ocean’s “Close to You,” or her R&B-infused “Into You” remix with the late Mac Miller.
Here are the deepest of the deepest cuts out there — Ariana Grande’s top 10 tracks not available for official streaming or purchase.
10. “Boyfriend Material” (2012)
During her Yours Truly era, Grande was notable for lacing her tracks with dreamy doo-wop harmonies (note: “Tattooed Heart” and her stellar performance during the American Music Awards that year). But before her first LP — which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart in September 2013 — caught the attention of the masses, Grande shared this now non-streamable release during a January 2013 livestream.
Grande may have scrapped “Boyfriend Material,” but Kpop group f(x) picked it up for its 2013 The 2nd Album 'Pink Tape' cut "여우 같은 내 친구 (No More),” giving its own spin to the lost gem in Grande’s discography.
9. “OG Honeymoon Avenue” (2011)
For many Arianators, “Honeymoon Avenue” marked the start of their introduction to an artist breaking away from her Nickelodeon glory and proving herself with Yours Truly. Luckily, fans got the slowed-down, trap-infused, string-intro-glazed ballad that opened the record. In a parallel universe, Grande may have included the poppier version, where her vocals feel a smudge less developed, on the album.
While “OG Honeymoon Avenue” may not live up to the solid album opener fans actually got, it still shows the growth and effort that the pop mastermind put into crafting her 2013 debut. And it was later transformed into — arguably — her most compelling album opener to date (sorry, “Raindrops”).
8. “Emotions” (Mariah Carey cover, 2012)
The Mariah Carey comparisons were hard for Grande to avoid when she first hit the scene, but she proved to be her own vocal phenomenon once her debut hit shelves. Grande often applauded Carey as a big inspiration behind the ‘90s pop sensibilities of Yours Truly, and her rendition of Mimi’s 1991 Hot 100 No. 1 single “Emotions” is everything fans of the two need to get by in a world without a Grande/Carey collaboration.
It’s all there: the funky bassline-driven instrumental, the whistle notes, the cat cameo. All it’s missing is Carey herself.
7. “Don’t Dream It’s Over” (with Miley Cyrus) (Crowded House cover, 2015)
This isn’t as much of a hidden gem as it is desperately deserving of being available on streaming services. Grande and Cyrus released this rendition of this Crowded House classic in May 2015 as part of Cyrus’ Happy Hippie Backyard Sessions. The one-take cover is gorgeously sung and the banter in the middle is perfect for any fan of Nickelodeon/Disney crossovers.
Their 2017 performance during the “One Love Manchester” benefit show is still just as touching as it was then, but nothing beats the original cover and the giant inflatable green couch and onesie combo that the two treated fans with.
6. “Pink Champagne” (2010)
Co-written by Kesha, “Pink Champagne” is another cut that just missed the Yours Truly mark. Grande recorded the track when she was 17, so understandably she found herself in a different spot musically at the time of her 2013 debut. Still, it's not like she hid this self-proclaimed “fetus” gem.
In October 2013, Grande released the song on YouTube as a thank you to fans for helping her reach a milestone of 10 million Twitter followers. She later incorporated the non-streamable bop during select Honeymoon Tour dates in 2015, sequin-infused choreography and all.
5. “Voodoo Love” (2011)
As a true predecessor to Little Mix’s “Black Magic,” this one perfectly documents Grande’s vocal transformation between Victorious and Yours Truly. This may have been a time when Grande referred to her fans as “Tiny Elephants," but her enunciation was just starting to become what it is today: sometimes hard to understand but always infectious.
Grande originally recorded the track sometime around 2011 and performed it for the stage production of A Snow White Christmas during December 2012. She also teased it later on as a possible track 10 for Yours Truly — and while her questionable decision to give it the axe is unfortunate, the album turned out just fine in all its ‘90s-inspired pop glory.
4. “Knew Better Pt. 2” (2016)
Grande clearly knew better when she dropped her junior effort Dangerous Woman without the second part to “Knew Better,” which she paired with “Forever Boy.” And when she leaked the official full-length version on her SoundCloud months later and added it to the setlist for her tour of the same name, she did better.
“Knew Better Pt. 2” proved to be a fan-favorite on the tour, partially due to Grande’s braggadocious rap verse, and sly drop of the word “motherfucker” almost two minutes in. We saw a bit more of this confidence later on with the Hot 100-topping “7 Rings,” but Grande’s pride and flow in this (“Make a mistake, you better learn from it/ Play with tea, you get burned from it”) still go unmatched.
3. "Close to You" (Frank Ocean cover, 2019)
It’s hard to pull off a multi-layered cover which borrows from some of music’s most transcendent stars (Stevie Wonder, the Carpenters) and it’s even harder to do a Frank Ocean track justice. But Grande has no fear. And her admiration for Ocean and natural gift to give any song a vocally unmatched spin mesh well here.
When she hit the road for her Sweetener World Tour this year, she brought her interlude of Ocean’s “Close to You” with her. It may just be a transitory cut for tour, but for fans of both artists, it’s a trip to heaven. Grande has covered Ocean before (“Sweet Life” during her highly underrated 2013 Lullaby Friday’s on YouTube, “Pink and White” on the DWT), but nothing this concrete.
Maybe someday the two will swap verses and harmonize all of our problems away. But for now, we have this tweet.
2. “Into You Remix" (feat. Mac Miller) (2016)
Grande and Mac Miller’s collaborations were never anything short of magical (“The Way,” ''My Favorite Part”). But when the two came together for a 2016 SoundCloud-dropped R&B chord-heavy version of the song Billboard picked as Grande's finest track, they both shone as bright as ever.
Mac’s vocal layering and lyricism are both playful here, although he takes the line “into you” a bit literally. His spare verses on a throwaway remix still sounded well-rehearsed and album-ready, proving this Grande classic is just as much of a banger with a feature from the late rapper.
1. “Better Days" (feat. Victoria Monét) (2016)
Grande and Victoria Monét — a Billboard cover star this June — have a lot of history together. They’ve crafted bops like “Monopoly” and teamed up for tracks throughout Grande’s discography, but nothing they’ve worked on together has matched the sincerity and impact of the inspiring, yet unstreamable, “Better Days.”
The duo released the track days after police shot and killed Alton Sterling and Philando Castile on consecutive days in July 2016. “Better Days” soon became an uplifting anthem following the May 2017 Manchester Arena bombing at Grande’s “Dangerous Woman Tour” show (along with “One Last Time”), and has held up tremendously as one of the pop icon’s best collaborations, and most impactful tracks.
It’s led to countless fan tattoos and served as a motto for those affected by the attack, especially during the “One Love Manchester” benefit concert. The harmonies are chilling, the bridge is beautifully sung, and the message is eternal.