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I’m not asking to be the center of attention. […] I literally mean “focus on me,” on what I’m all about and what I believe in. The more we focus on each other, as people and not on what we look like, not what we’re wearing, our gender, our hairstyle, our sexuality, the color of our skin, but focus on each other on a soul level. The more we realize how much we have in common, the more we listen to each other, the more one we become. Pls – ask Graham + Duff.

–Ariana Grande on "Focus"[1]

"Focus" (originally titled "Focus On Me") is the sixteenth track on the Japanese Version of Ariana Grande's third studio album, Dangerous Woman. It was released on October 30, 2015 as a single, through Republic Records.

The song was originally released as the lead single from Grande's third studio album, titled Moonlight at the time. As the album's concept changed and its title renamed to become Dangerous Woman, the song was removed from the main track list, including the standard and deluxe versions. In this process, "Dangerous Woman" replaced "Focus" as the lead single. It was added to the standard Japan Edition as a bonus track, and the Japanese Special Price Edition along with "Step On Up" and "Jason's Song (Gave It Away)". It was the only song out of the three bonus tracks that was not added to the digital exclusive Edited Version, likely because the song was already available digitally, despite "Jason's Song (Gave It Away)" also being available digitally.

It debuted at #3 on the US iTunes Charts within an hour of release and peaked at #2 in 12 hours. On the Billboard Hot 100, the song debuted and peaked at #7. The song also features uncredited backing vocals from American actor Jamie Foxx in the chorus.[2]

Background[]

Grande worked on "Focus" through April and May, officially finishing the song on May 5, 2015.[3] Grande posted a picture on Instagram on June 16, 2015, with the caption, "by 'focus' I meant 'focus on me' #thisisahint 💭 #youllsee 🌙🌛 ☕️ 🙊"[4] On August 5, 2015, at iHeartMedia Music Summit it was confirmed that Grande would be releasing a new single in the "following weeks" called "Focus On Me". There was a video of Grande with Republic Records CEO Monte Lipman and Charlie Walk playing the song for the whole staff as she ran through Republic offices.[5]

On September 2, 2015, Grande tweeted that the "Moonlight festivities" would be starting in October. She also said that she was excited about the "nearby future" and considered October to be the "nearby future".[6][7] A fan also asked what was coming first, "Moonlight", "Focus On Me" or "Be Alright" to which Grande tweeted "focus comes first."[8]

Grande announced that there would be a "big announcement" when she appeared on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.[9] She went on the show on September 15, 2015, and announced the name of her new single to be "Focus" (rather than "Focus On Me") with a release date of October 30, 2015.[10]

With 30 days until the release of "Focus," Grande shared the lyrics to the first verse of the song.[11] She began sharing more lyrics throughout the countdown.[12][13][14] On October 5, Grande posted a 6-second snippet of the song.[15] She also posted several teasers on her brother Frankie dancing/singing to the song.[16] On October 19, Grande tweeted a link to her website, showing the first fragrance commercial for ARI. In the video, the background music is a snippet of Focus.[17]

Grande says the song is "just supposed to make you feel good and feel empowered."[18]

Cover art[]

On August 25, 2015, Grande tweeted that she was working on something with her photographer and friend Alfredo Flores.[19][20] She said they were really focused followed by saying, "suuuuuuuuuuuuper focused" which was a hint that they were shooting the cover artwork for "Focus."[21] Grande confirmed a couple of weeks later that Alfredo did shoot the cover.[22] Alfredo wrote on his Instagram post "☀When an impromptu shoot in Jakarta turns into THISSSS! #16days #focus 📷" confirming that the artwork was shot in Jakarta.

With 20 days until the release of the song, Grande posted a pixelated picture of the cover artwork.[23] Each day for the following week she posted a less pixelated picture of the cover art. Grande told fans that the cover would more revealing than the My Everything cover. She also told fans to look at her hairstylist Dalina Way's Instagram for a hint, where a picture of a white bobby pin was posted (indicating she would have white /platinum white hair on the cover).[24] Grande finally released the official cover on October 14.[25]

Critical reception[]

Upon release, "Focus" received mixed reviews from music critics. Kaitlyn Tiffany from The Verge commented positively saying, "As Ariana Grande is a massively talented vocalist, the song "Focus" itself is very pleasant to listen to".[26] Brennan Carley of Spin had a mixed opinion, commenting that the song was a "catchy slow-burn", describing it as a "horn-heavy piece of retro-modern fusion". However, he also noted that Grande's vocals "[lacked] any real excitement from a star who’s got the restraint and skill to take her instrument places most other pop singers can’t anymore". He criticized the "male howling the faux-chorus" for "[getting] grating quickly" and for making "Focus" too similar to Grande's previous lead single "Problem". Time's Nolan Feeney also commented it for being similar to "Problem", but noted that this might not be a bad thing, saying: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it—no need for Grande to check her vision here".[27]

Steven J. Horowitz and Alex Gale from Billboard rated the song two-and-a-half out of five stars, commenting "Dating back to her 2011 debut "Put Your Hearts Up," Grande has never released a less-than-great single, until now, with 'Focus', a rehash of 2014's 'Problem'." Time named "Focus" the sixth-worst song of 2015: "Grande needed a tightly constructed, elegant hit, and this isn’t it."[28]

Commercial performance[]

"Focus" debuted at number 10 on the Official Singles Chart in the UK, marking it as Grande's third top 10 single in the country, following number one singles "Problem" and "Bang Bang".[29] In the United States, "Focus" debuted at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Grande's sixth top 10 single (and fourth top 10 debuts), selling 113,000 copies in its first week.[30] With the release of "Focus", Grande became the first artist to have all lead singles from her first three albums debut in the top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart.[30] In addition to that, it also became her first top 10 song in the US unaccompanied by another artist.[30] The song fell to number 13 in its second week.[31] It spent thirteen weeks on the chart, which is significantly less than the chart longevity of Grande's previous lead single, "Problem" from My Everything (2014), which spent sixteen consecutive weeks in the Top 10 alone.

Live performances[]

Grande performed this song live for the first time on October 30 (the day of its release) at her iHeartRadio Halloween Concert.[32]

Grande performed the song on the 2015 American Music Awards for the first time on television. She also performed it on New Year's Eve at a private concert in Las Vegas.

Music video[]

The music video was filmed on September 13, 2015. It was released on October 30, 2015, the same day as the song. The music video was directed by Hannah Lux Davis. Brian and Scott Nicholson and Boy Boi choreographed the video. The song contains a product placement of the Samsung Galaxy Note 5.

Trivia[]

  • Grande said she feels like "Focus" is "Problem"s older sister, so she felt that was a perfect way to transition from the sound of the previous album to the new one.
    • This caused a rebound effect. Many people sent hate because they said that "Focus" was actually a cheap copy of "Problem".
  • On the Japanese CD of "Focus" there is an extra message at the end of the song, that says "大家好!我是1.5米高的Ariana Grande日本的朋友们 我爱你们 爱死你们啦 愛" (Translation: "Hello everyone! I’m Ariana Grande, 1.5 meters tall, friends from Japan, I love you, love you all, love")
  • On the set of the Focus music video, Ariana joked that she was auditioning for Lucius Malfoy, because of her platinum colored hair.
  • This song was released on the Japanese Exclusive edition of her 3rd studio album, Dangerous Woman
  • This song is Grande's first released song where she swore in it.
    • "Get On Your Knees" was the first song released under Ariana's name that was explicit.
  • On March 6, 2024, the song hit 1 billion views on YouTube, becoming her 8th to do so.[33]

Merchandise[]

Physical Releases[]

Videos[]

Gallery[]

Lyrics[]

[Intro: Ariana Grande]
Hey

[Verse 1: Ariana Grande]
I know what I came to do
And that ain't gonna change
So go ahead and talk your talk
Cause I won't take the bait

[Refrain 1: Ariana Grande]
I'm over here doin' what I like
I'm over here workin' day and night
And if my real ain't real enough
I'm sorry for ya, bae

[Pre-Chorus: Ariana Grande]
Let's find a light inside our universe now
Where ain't nobody keep on holdin' us down
Just come and get it, let them say what they say
Cause I'm about to put them all away (Woo!)

[Chorus: Jamie Foxx & Ariana Grande]
Focus on me, fuh-fuh, focus on me (Woo!)
Focus on me, fuh-fuh, focus on me (Woo!)
Focus on me (Focus), fuh-fuh, focus on me (Focus on me) (Woo!)
Focus on me (Focus), fuh-fuh, focus on me (Focus on me) (Woo!)

[Verse 2: Ariana Grande]
I can tell you're curious
It's written on your lips
Ain't no need to hold it back
Go head and talk your shit (Hey, hey)

[Refrain 2: Ariana Grande]
I know you're hoping that I'll react (Nai)
I know you're hoping that I'm looking back
But if my real ain't real enough
Then I don't know what is, hey, yeah

[Pre-Chorus: Ariana Grande]
Let's find a light inside our universe now (Oh, yeah)
Where ain't nobody keep on holdin' us down (They don't keep on holdin' us down)
Just come and get it, let them say what they say (Ooooo-woah)
Cause I'm about to put (Them all away) (Woo!)

[Chorus: Jamie Foxx & Ariana Grande]
Focus on me (Hey), fuh-fuh, focus on me (Baby) (Woo!)
Focus on me (Oooooh), fuh-fuh, focus on me (Woo!)
Focus on me (Focus), fuh-fuh, focus on me (Focus on me) (So focus on me, baby) (Woo!)
Focus on me (Focus), fuh-fuh, focus on me (Focus on me) (Focus on me, bae) (Woo!)

[Breakdown: Ariana Grande]
One, two, three
C'mon girls (Uh, hey)
You know I like it (Uh, hey)
Ba-da-da-da-ba-da-da-da-da-daaaaa
Focus on me (Uh)
C'mon now (Now!)
Focus on me (Uh)
Oooooh, yeah!

[Pre-Chorus: Ariana Grande]
Let's find a light inside our universe now (So let's find lights)
Where ain't nobody keep on holdin' us down (They don't keep on holdin' us down)
Just come and get it, let them say what they say (Let them say yeah, say yeah)
Cause I'm about to put them all away (Yeah!)

[Chorus: Jamie Foxx & Ariana Grande]
Focus on me (Woo), fuh-fuh (Hey), focus on me (You know I like it when you focus on me) (Woo!)
Focus on me, fuh-fuh (Focus on me), focus on me (Woo!)
Focus on me (Focus), fuh-fuh (Nooooh, yeah), focus on me (Focus on me) (Woo!) (Now)
Focus on me (Focus), fuh-fuh (Naaaaaaai, bae), focus on me (Focus on me) (Woo!)

[Outro: Jamie Foxx & Ariana Grande]
Focus on me, fuh-fuh, focus on me (Focus on me) (Woo!)
Focus on me (Oooooh, bae), fuh-fuh, focus on me (Ooh, boy) (Woo!)
Focus on me (Focus), fuh-fuh, focus on me (Focus on me) (Woo!)
Focus on me (Focus), fuh-fuh, focus on me (Focus on me) (Focus on me, bae) (Woo!)

References[]

  1. MTV - "Ariana Grande's 'Focus' Is A Lot More Spiritual Than You May Think"
  2. Entertainment Weekly - Ariana Grande reveals Jamie Foxx's vocals are featured on 'Focus'
  3. Twitter - Date Focus was finished
  4. Instagram - Caption (June 16, 2015)
  5. Fuse - Ariana Grande Has Her Next Single, "Focus on Me," Ready to Go
  6. MTV - Ariana Grande Is Teasing Something Major On Twitter And Fans Are Freaking Out
  7. Billboard - Ariana Grande Hints at 'Moonlight' Release Date on Twitter
  8. TwitPic - Focus first
  9. Twitter - Big announcement
  10. Belfast Telegraph - Ariana Grande reveals new music
  11. Twitter - Lyrics #1
  12. Twitter - Lyrics #2
  13. Twitter - Lyrics #3
  14. Twitter - Lyrics #4
  15. Twitter - Song snippet
  16. Instagram - One clip of Frankie dancing
  17. Twitter - ARI commercial
  18. 97.1 Radio - Interview: Ariana Grande Ready to Unveil Her “Secret” Album
  19. Twitter - First tweet
  20. Twitter - Instagram picture
  21. Twitter - Second tweet
  22. Twitter - Alfredo shot the cover
  23. Twitter - Coverart #1
  24. TeenVogue - Ariana Grande Just Went Platinum Blonde
  25. Twitter - Official Artwork
  26. Ariana Grande and the Galaxy Note 5 just dropped a new music video
  27. Watch the Video for Ariana Grande's New Single 'Focus'
  28. Top 10 Worst Songs of 2015
  29. Adele says Hello to another week at Number 1
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 Adele's 'Hello' Tops Hot 100 for Second Week; Ariana Grande, Meghan Trainor Hit Top 10
  31. Billboard Hot 100 - The week of November 28, 2015
  32. EntertainmentTonight - Ariana Grande Gets a Few Scares During Pre-Halloween iHeartRadio Concert
  33. Twitter - @chartdata: "Ariana Grande's "Focus" has now surpassed 1 billion views on YouTube."
Dangerous Woman
May 20, 2016 • 39:31 • Republic Records
Songs
Released Bad DecisionsBe AlrightDangerous WomanEverydayFocusGreedyI Don't CareInto YouJason's Song (Gave It Away)Knew Better / Forever BoyLeave Me LonelyLet Me Love YouMoonlightSide To SideSometimesStep On UpThinking Bout YouTouch It
Unreleased All ThatAriana BeatBaby LovesForevermoreGot Her OwnHiHourglassHow You FeelKnew Better Part TwoLeave Me Lonely (Reprise)MonsterMoonlight FlourishOh, YeahOn & On
Artists
Ariana GrandeFutureJamie FoxxLil WayneMacy GrayNicki MinajQuavoTakeoffTayla ParxVictoria Monét
Tour
Dangerous Woman Tour
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