Break Free (song)

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For other songs, see Break Free.
"Break Free"
Single by Ariana Grande featuring Zedd
from the album My Everything
Released July 3, 2014 (2014-07-03)
Format Digital download, CD Single
Recorded
Genre
Length 3:34
Label Republic
Writer(s)
Producer(s)
Ariana Grande singles chronology
"Problem"
(2014)
"Break Free"
(2014)
"Bang Bang"
(2014)
Zedd singles chronology
"Find You"
(2014)
"Break Free"
(2014)
"I Want You to Know"
(2015)

"Break Free" is a song by American singer Ariana Grande featuring Russian-German DJ Zedd. It was the second single from Grande's sophomore studio album My Everything (2014). It premiered on July 2, 2014 on Total Ariana Live, MTV's revival of Total Request Live, and was released later that day. Musically, the song explores EDM and electro genres, a musical departure for Grande, whose discography is primarily composed of pop and R&B.[4][5][6]

"Break Free" peaked at number four on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Grande's third consecutive top-ten from My Everything and fourth overall in the US. As of March 2016, the song has sold 1.8 million copies in the United States, making it Grande's fourth single to have sold over a million.[7] The music video reached 100 million views and became Grande's third Vevo-certified video on October 5, 2014.[8] "Break Free" reached the Billboard Hot 100 top ten on the same week with "Bang Bang" and "Problem". Consequently, she became the second lead female artist to simultaneously have three top ten singles on the Billboard Hot 100 after Adele.

Production and composition[edit]

A 22-second sample of the song, featuring Grande singing over an electronic beat, a musical departure from her previous singles.

Problems playing this file? See media help.

"Break Free" was written by Savan Kotecha, Zedd and Max Martin and produced by the latter two.[9][10] 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 didn't know who it was, and I just said 'I want to make a song with whoever is singing right now.' I didn't know who it was, and it turned out being her. And luckily, now there's a song!"[9][11] 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 I'd do an EDM song, but that was an eye-opening experience, and now all I want to do is dance."[12][13] She later talked about the song at Wango Tango and shared that she wanted it to be the next single.[14][15]

According to the sheet music published at Musicnotes.com by Kobalt Music Services America, "Break Free" is written in the key of G minor.[16]

Release[edit]

On May 10, 2014, during an interview after her performance at Wango Tango, Grande revealed that she wanted "Break Free" to be her next single after "Problem". She said, "I did a song with Zedd, who I just met for the first time here, and I'm really excited about that song. I really want that to be the second single. My whole team is like, 'Oh it's too early to pick a new single,' but I'm really leaning towards that one. I love that song so much. He's fantastic and the song is really fun."[17]

Grande began dropping hints about her second single on social media throughout the month of June but did not confirm that it was her Zedd collaboration until June 21, at which point she also revealed the song's name on Twitter.[citation needed] To build hype, Grande started an online countdown for the ten days leading up to "Break Free's" release.[citation needed] On June 28, Grande uploaded a teaser video with a snippet of the song to her Instagram account.[18]

"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.[19] It was made available for purchase as a digital download on iTunes a few hours after the TRL premiere.[20][21] It reached the number one spot on the iTunes Sales Chart soon after its release.[22]

Critical reception[edit]

The song received positive reviews from music critics. 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."[23] Lewis Corner from Digital Spy gave the song four stars out of five and said that the track is "too catchy to be generic".[24] 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 verse's 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 don't stick." He compared the message of the song to Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone".[25]

"Break Free" was nominated at the 2014 Teen Choice Awards in the Break-Up Song category.[26] It was also nominated for Top Dance/Electronic Song at the 2015 Billboard Music Awards.[27]

Commercial performance[edit]

In the United States, "Break Free" debuted at number 15 on the Billboard Hot 100 with 161,000 downloads sold in its first week.[28][29] After the release of the song's official music video on August 12, "Break Free" soared on the Hot 100 from number 18 to number 4 becoming Grande's fourth top 10 hit and her third consecutive top 10 hit of 2014.[30] Grande's other singles, "Bang Bang" and "Problem" were also in the Billboard Hot 100 top 10, placing at number 10 and 7 respectively. With three songs in the top 10, Ariana Grande became the second female lead artist to have three singles in the top 10 since Adele in 2012. On that same week, "Break Free" jumped from 14 to 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, 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.[31] Aside from being Grande's fourth top ten hit, this also marked Zedd's second top ten hit and his highest peaking single. The song has sold 1.8 million copies as of March 2016.[7]

Internationally, the song was a top 10 hit in Australia,[32] Austria,[33] Canada,[34] Finland,[35] Ireland,[36] Netherlands,[37] New Zealand,[38] Poland,[39] and Sweden.[40]

Music video[edit]

The music video was filmed from June 10–12, 2014.[41] Having an intergalactic theme, Grande stated that the video was inspired by the 1968 science fiction film Barbarella, Star Wars, and space in general.[42][43][44][45] The plot consists of Grande on a fictional planet giving up her allegiance to an evil regime of extraterrestrials and freeing a group of prisoners from their cages. She is subsequently attacked by a giant robot and the planet's overlord. Her character succeeds in killing the villain, and the clip ends with Grande and the prisoners she rescued flying away in a spaceship, partying with the crew with Beats by Dre products visible. The song's producer Zedd makes an appearance.

It premiered on YouTube on August 12, 2014 an hour after its official release announcement.[citation needed] It surpassed 100 million views on October 5, making it Grande's third Vevo-certified music video after "The Way" and "Problem".[8] It made its televised debut three days later on Disney Channel.[46][47]

Live performances[edit]

Grande first performed the song at the 31st annual MTV Video Music Awards on August 24, 2014.[48] She then went on to perform it on several television shows, including America's Got Talent on August 27,[49] on The Today Show on August 29,[50] and on The X Factor Australia on September 8.[51] She also performed it on the Honda Stage at the iHeartRadio Theater on August 28 and at the iHeartRadio Music Festival on September 19.[52][53] She performed a half acoustic, half upbeat version of "Break Free" on Saturday Night Live on September 27, 2014.[54] Ariana once again performed "Break Free" at the 2014 MTV Europe Music Awards on November 9, 2014, opening up the show along with her other single "Problem". Ariana performed the song at the American Music Awards on November 23, 2014.[55]

Track listing[edit]

US/Europe CD single/digital download

  1. "Break Free" - 3:35

Credits and personnel[edit]

Adapted from album liner notes.[56]

Recording locations
  • Grande – Conway Recording Studios, Hollywood, CA
  • Zedd – Zedd 1 Studio, Santa Monica, CA
Vocal credits
Technical credits
  • Songwriting – Anton Zaslavski, Max Martin, Savan Kotecha, CT
  • Production – Zedd, Max Martin
  • Engineering – Ryan Shanahan, Jesse Taub, Sam Holland, Cory Brice
  • Mixing – Zedd
  • Mastering – Tom Coyne, Aya Merrill (at Sterling Sound)
  • Programming and instruments – Zedd

Charts[edit]

Certifications[edit]

Region Certification Certified units/Sales
Australia (ARIA)[119] 2× Platinum 140,000^
Canada (Music Canada)[120] 2× Platinum 160,000^
Germany (BVMI)[121] Gold 200,000^
Netherlands (NVPI)[122] 2× Platinum 80,000^
Italy (FIMI)[123] Platinum 50,000*
Japan (RIAJ)[124] Platinum 250,000^
New Zealand (RMNZ)[125] Gold 7,500*
Sweden (GLF)[126] 4× Platinum 160,000^
United Kingdom (BPI)[127] Gold 400,000double-dagger
United States (RIAA)[128] 3× Platinumdagger 1,800,000[7]
Streaming
Denmark (IFPI Denmark)[129] Platinum 2,600,000^
Spain (PROMUSICAE)[130] Platinum 8,000,000^

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone

dagger Since May 2013 RIAA certifications for digital singles include on-demand audio and/or video song streams in addition to downloads.[131]

Release history[edit]

Region Date Format Record label
United States[132] July 3, 2014 Digital download Republic
France[133] July 4, 2014
Italy[134]
Japan[135]
United States July 8, 2014 Contemporary hit radio[136]
Rhythmic contemporary[137]
United Kingdom[138] August 6, 2014 Digital download
Ireland
Italy[139] September 26, 2014 Radio airplay Universal

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External links[edit]