Ariana Grande’s new YouTube docuseries on her 2017 Dangerous Woman World Tour and the making of Sweetener is mostly light and silly, chronicling all her behind-the-scenes shenanigans. (Enjoy her attempting to make sense of that “The Light Is Coming” video and impersonating her nonna.) But, of course, that tour was tragically derailed when a terrorist attack occurred at her Manchester stop in May 2017, killing 22 people. Episode four of the docuseries addresses the attack. While it does not show any footage from that concert or the aftermath, Ariana instead shares a letter to fans that she wrote eight months later reflecting on the events of that night:
I’m writing to you this February 22, 2018.
It’s been eight months since the attack at our show at the Manchester Arena. It’s impossible to know where to start or to know what to say about this part. May 22, 2017, will leave me speechless and filled with questions for the rest of my life.
Music is an escape. Music is the safest thing I’ve ever known. Music — pop music, stan culture — is something that brings people together, introduces them to some of their best friends, and makes them feel like they can be themselves. It is comfort. It is fun. It is expression. It is happiness. It is the last thing that would ever harm someone. It is safe.
When something so opposite and so poisonous takes place in your world that is supposed to be everything but that … it is shocking and heartbreaking in a way that seems impossible to fully recover from.
The spirit of the people of Manchester, the families affected by this horrendous tragedy, and my fans around the world have permanently impacted all of us for the rest of our lives. Their love, strength, and unity showed me, my team, my dancers, band, and entire crew not to be defeated. To continue during the scariest and saddest of times. To not let hate win. But instead, love as loudly as possible, and to appreciate every moment.
The people of Manchester were able to change an event that portrayed the worst of humanity into one that portrayed the most beautiful of humanity. “Like a handprint on my heart” … I think of Manchester constantly and will carry this with me every day for the rest of my life.
Following the attack, Ariana suspended her world tour for two weeks. She returned to performing by hosting a star-studded benefit show in Manchester that raised money for families of victims of the attack, and later resumed her tour. The docuseries includes footage of her performing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,” her emotional closing number at the benefit, on the rest of her tour. It also shows a clip of her rehearsing for her final stop on the tour in Hong Kong, breaking down in tears. “No one is allowed to look at me today. I’m not gonna be able to sing a goddamn note,” she says. “I’m sad because it’s been so many things to all of us. When things were bad and everyone was heartbroken and tired and sad, we wished it to go faster. And now that it’s here, it’s horrible.”