Young pop diva is A-OK underneath

Strip away the makeup and suggestive outfits, the previous Nickelodeon tween stardom and the current pop-diva status, and you may have something resembling the real Ariana Grande. Underneath it all, it seems like she makes little effort to hide who she is behind the image. Like a lot of strong 23-year old women, she comes across as smart, if not yet sophisticated, experienced but not worldly, sexy but not fodder for your fantasies. Her songs are sharp and catchy, pop music firmly stamped in the present, with the limited lifespan and concern for the future you would expect from a young artist. And that is fine. If this moment in pop music belongs to Ariana Grande, 2017 is going to be all right. (Safe bet)