7 things (other than rings) to love about Ariana Grande concert doc Excuse me, I love you
On Monday, Netflix dropped Ariana Grande: Excuse Me, I Love You, a documentary directed by Paul Dugdale chronicling the Positions songstress’ 2019 Sweetener World Tour, using concert footage from a London performance interspersed with some candid glimpses of Grande backstage with her friends and collaborators.
The doc doesn’t reveal much about the ponytailed pop star that fans didn’t already know; in fact, the onscreen Ari feels all the more mysterious when paired with the knowledge that she got engaged in the days leading up to the film’s release — to someone who never appears in it. No, the pleasures of Excuse Me, I Love You come not in sharp insights but simply in living in Grande’s world for an hour and a half, hearing some of her best tracks as well as at least one very down-to-earth anecdote about her pets. Here are seven highlights.
1. The team
It was admittedly kind of a bummer to see Scooter Braun (which I know I should have expected, but was still taken aback), but Grande’s dancers, choreographers, musicians, stage managers, co-writers, best friends (there are various people credited as such), and everyone else who populates the singer’s world on tour are a critical part of the show’s magic. Especially knowing the pain Grande had experienced in the years leading up to this tour, the deep affection and support the whole team has for each other, immediately visible on screen, is all the more powerful.
2. “Bad Idea”
Staged using honestly some great ideas!
3. The custom costumes
The much-admired, Clueless-inspired outfit was fabulous, but excuse me, I love Ari's puffed-sleeve organza crop top that appears in three different colors over the course of the film, always paired with a matching high-waisted mini skirt and, obviously, thigh-high heeled boots.
4. “Tattooed Heart”
As much fun as it is to hear the songs that got us through 2019, the throwbacks are a thrill too — including Yours Truly tracks “Right There” and “Tattooed Heart,” for the latter of which Grande’s backup dancers leave the stage to give her a slowed-down solo moment against a cosmic set design. Alone but for the moon, Grande’s powerhouse vocals really get to shine.
There are great moments of the outside world demanding attention within Grande’s tour bubble, like when Mariah Carey personally requests Grande, who becomes as starstruck as a star herself can be, to appear in the 25th anniversary “All I Want for Christmas Is You” singalong video; or when she and her dancers thrill at the news that a certain POTUS had been impeached (with hindsight, Grande adds a personal note to the screen “too bad he wasn’t convicted — thank god Biden won anyway!”).
6. “Thank U, Next”
There was a reason this single burned the internet to the ground the night it came out (and not just because she name-checked all her exes). It is an iconic song! There is no denying it! The Sweetener tour performance taps into the spirit of its earth-shattering, reference-heavy music video by having Grande and co. in Cher Horowitz chic, doing pieces of the same dance that Kris Jenner-as-Amy Poehler memorably filmed. Nothing else could possibly close out the show.
7. A reminder...
… of live entertainment, and the communal experience of watching it. Grande often stops singing and holds her mic to the audience for them to belt out lines; these moments are better in person, but we can forgive the doc’s temporary loss of vocals to think back to what it was like — what it will be like again! — to screeeam pop songs in the direction of an artist, blinking through one’s own carefully applied if tear-smudged cat-eye makeup, while crushed up against thousands of other people doing the same. It’s really not quite as exhilarating to watch it on Netflix, at home, surrounded by no one, lacking the inclination to so much as track down a long-neglected eyeliner. But Ari did this for her fans not just as an early Christmas present, but an early New Year promise: We'll see each other again soon.
Ariana Grande: Excuse Me, I Love You is now streaming on Netflix.