By Brian Raftery
February 7, 2019

Ariana Grande is stepping into the ring and taking on the organizers of the 2019 Grammy Awards.

Earlier this week, the multi-platinum performer of such hits as “Thank U, Next” and “7 Rings” pulled out of this Sunday’s ceremony, after she was reportedly “insulted” when the event’s producers tried to determine what songs she could perform. The abrupt withdrawal was a potential setback for CBS, the network airing the awards, as Grande’s appearance had already been trumpeted by a sizable and no doubt costly Los Angeles marketing campaign that included billboards and bus advertisements. Now, she’s not even scheduled to be in the audience.

The Grammys could use a Grande-sized boost, as ratings for the show were down last year.

But on Thursday, any hopes of reconciliation dimmed, as the dispute between the event’s producers and the 25-year-old singer escalated on social media. In an interview with the Associated Press, published earlier that day, show producer Ken Ehrlich said his team had tried to work out an agreement with Grande, but that she ultimately “felt it was too late for her to pull something together.” He added: “She’s a great artist. And I’d love to get her on the show this year.”

Grande then tweeted out a rebuttal to her more than 60 million Twitter followers. “I’ve kept my mouth shut but now you’re lying about me,” she wrote. I can pull together a performance over night [sic] and you know that, Ken. it was when my creativity & self expression was stilted by you, that i decided not to attend.”

“It’s about art and honesty. not politics. not doing favors or playing games. it’s just a game [to] y’all.. and i’m sorry but that’s not what music is to me,” she noted in a follow-up tweet. As she was composing one of her tweets, Grande said, she passed a bus with her face on it, promoting her presence at the show.

Though the Grammy Awards—which starts at 8 p.m. Eastern Time on Feb. 10—features such big-name draws as Cardi B and Post Malone, the absence of Grande means CBS will miss out on hosting one of the most reliably buzz-building acts in pop music. Grande regularly racks up hundreds of millions of Spotify streams for such hit singles as “No Tears Left to Cry,” and her latest album, Thank U, Next, is due for release Friday.

And even if she doesn’t wind up coming to a last-minute agreement with the events organizers, Grande still might be one of the night’s big winners: She’s up for two awards on Sunday night, including Best Pop Vocal Album for last year’s Sweetener.

Still, the singer appears to have put the show-related drama behind her. On Thursday, she concluded her Twitter-blast with a succinct message clearly implying she was ready to change the subject: “anyf***ingway.”

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