Break Free is a song by American recording artist Ariana Grande featuring Russian-German musician and producer Zedd. The song serves as the second single from Grandes upcoming second studio album My Everything. It premiered on July 2, 2014 on Total Ariana Live, MTVs revival of Total Request Live and was released later that day. Musically, the song explores EDM and electropop genres, a musical departure for Grande, whose previous music had been mainly pop and R&B. The song has peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Grandes fourth top ten and second top five hit in the US.
In a May 2014 interview during which he talked about Break Free, Zedd spoke about wanting to collaborate with Grande after hearing her voice for the first time at a Universal showcase. He said, I was backstage and I heard someone sing. And I didnt know who it was, and I just said I want to make a song with whoever is singing right now. I didnt know who it was, and it turned out being her. And luckily, now theres a song! Grande first spoke about collaborating on a song with Zedd in late April in an interview with Billboard. She described the song as fantastic and super-experimental for me and further stated, I never thought Id do an EDM song, but that was an eye-opening experience, and now all I want to do is dance. She later talked about the song at Wango Tango and shared that she wanted it to be the next single. Grande began dropping hints about her second single on social media throughout the month of June but did not confirm that it was her collaboration with Zedd until June 21, at which point she also revealed the songs name. Break Free was written by Savan Kotecha, Zedd and Max Martin and produced by the latter two.
Release and promotion
To promote the song, Grande started a ten day online countdown to the release of the song on June 22, 2014 where she officially confirmed that Zedd would be a featured artist on the track. On June 28, Grande released a teaser video to the song on her Instagram account.
Break Free premiered on the one day revival of the MTV show Total Request Live in a half-hour special titled Total Ariana Live on July 2, 2014. Hours after TRL, it was released to digital download through Republic Records. It reached the No. 1 spot on the iTunes Sales Chart soon after its release.
Break Free received general acclaim from music critics upon its release. Carolyn Menyes from the Music Times wrote that the song is awesome and perfect for the summer, dance bliss, and compared the empowering message of the song to Destiny Childs old anthems.
Rachel Sonis from Idolator gave the song a positive review calling it the club anthem of the summer and thought that Grande herself is dipping her toes into exciting new waters for her upcoming record. Lucas Villa of AXS complimented her new direction as well, writing, [w]hile some singers get lost in heavy electro-pop production, Grande emerges as a liberated dance floor diva.
Larry Fitzmaurice from Pitchfork also liked the song praising both the production part of the song and the vocal saying that, from the zippy opening synth line to the verses insistent pounding, Break Free certainly invites comparisons to Swedish pop mastermind Robyn; as ever, Grande brings her own skyscraping voice in top form, so vocally the comparisons dont stick. He compared the message of the song to Kelly Clarksons Since U Been Gone.
In the United States, Break Free debuted at No. 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 with 161,000 downloads sold in its first week. It also reached number 1 on the Billboard Dance/Electronic Digital Songs chart. For the August 30, 2014 issue of Billboard, the song jumped from No. 18 to No. 4 on the Hot 100, making Grande have three songs in the top ten that week the other two being Bang Bang and Problem. This marks Grande and Adele the first and only females in history to have three songs as lead artists simultaneously in the top ten. Aside from being Grandes fourth top ten hit, this marked Zedds second top ten hit and highest peaking single. On that same week, Break Free soared from 14-4 on the Billboard Digital Songs charts with 116,000 downloads sold, along with Bang Bang and the promotional single Best Mistake (featuring Big Sean) ranking at numbers 2 and 6 respectively. With three songs in the top 6, Ariana Grande became the first female artist to have 3 songs placing in the top 6 on the Billboard Digital Songs chart simultaneously and the second overall artist since Michael Jackson, after his death in 2009.
The music video was filmed from June 10–12, 2014. Grande began giving indication of the video by uploading photos of aliens and space to her Twitter account. She later announced that the video was inspired by the 1968 science fiction film Barbarella, Star Wars, and space in general. She described the video as space age, throwback, and campy. The video also features an appearance by Zedd.
The music video premiered on YouTube on August 12, 2014 an hour after its official release anouncement. The music video is directed by Chris Marrs Piliero. It made its televised debut three days later on Disney Channel during the premiere of the original movie How to Build a Better Boy.
Grande is scheduled to perform the song at the 31st annual MTV Video Music Awards, on August 24, 2014.
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