Are “7 Rings” Really Our Favorite Things?

Released earlier this year, Ariana Grande’s single “7 Rings” debuted at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 Chart—her second number-one single. She’s the fifth artist to score multiple number-one debut singles, joining the ranks of Mariah Carey, Justin Bieber, Drake, and Britney Spears.¹

Scoring that number-one spot is a clear sign that the American people love this song (even though it has stirred up some controversy, due to issues of plagiarism and cultural appropriation), yet what is “7 Rings” really about? Take a look at this lyrics music video (song includes some strong language):

“My Favorite Things” Becomes “7 Rings”
If you didn’t catch it in that music lyrics video, “7 Rings” is an interpolation of “My Favorite Things,” written by Rodgers and Hammerstein and made famous when Julie Andrews sang it in The Sound of Music.² We know the lyrics from “My Favorite Things” well; the very first line from the classic song, “Raindrops on roses / and whiskers on kittens,” becomes “Breakfast at Tiffany’s and bottles of bubbles / girls with tattoos who like getting in trouble” in Ariana’s song.

Think about the lyrics of “My Favorite Things”—it’s all about enjoying the simple things of life, everyday things, small wonders. In “7 Rings,” Ariana Grande has taken that idea and morphed it into a song about extravagant, over-the-top consumerism:

Lashes and diamonds, ATM machines
Buy myself all of my favorite things (Yeah)

Whoever said money can’t solve your problems
Must not have had enough money to solve ’em
They say, “Which one?” I say, “Nah, I want all of ’em”
Happiness is the same price as red-bottoms

Where does happiness come from? In “My Favorite Things,” happiness is found by looking around and taking time to appreciate simple things that we might otherwise take for granted. But in “7 Rings,” Ariana sings that we can buy our happiness, that money really can solve all of our problems. More than that, she’s bragging, not apologizing, for extravagant waste. She’s taken consumerism and materialism to a new level.

Ariana Grande’s Extravagant Lifestyle
This isn’t just a song—it’s based on Ariana’s own extravagant lifestyle. After calling off her engagement with Pete Davidson, we see how she coped with the public breakup—She went out with six of her girlfriends for what she says was just some retail therapy. Apparently, they drank champagne at Tiffany’s and—a little tipsy—she purchased seven diamond rings, one for herself and one for each of her friends, calling them friendship rings.³

The song and the lyrics were partly a feminist flex that she doesn’t need a man in order to have a wedding ring. Yet beyond that, it seems apparent she’s seeking to find happiness in excessive expenditures. Is excessive retail therapy really the way to be happy? Is Ariana really happy?

Can Happiness Really be Bought?
Clearly Ariana Grande is on the bandwagon that happiness is something that can be bought. Her lyrics expressly say that. Time will tell if she continues to live this “happy” extravagant lifestyle or if she eventually deems it unsatisfactory.

What about the rest of the world, those of us who aren’t millionaires? Are the people—hundreds of thousands of them—listening to this song also buying into this idea that happiness can be purchased?

Even if we’re not listening to the song, do we practice this underlying idea that consumerism creates happiness? Perhaps Ariana Grande is just saying what’s already clear in our culture. After all, aren’t most marketing advertisements built upon the idea that this lipstick, that dress, this vacation resort, that sports car, etc., will bring you happiness?

Do we all eventually start to fall into this thinking that more is better? Newer is better?

Perhaps Ariana’s sickening attitude displayed through her mega-wealthy consumerism should have us all looking at our own hearts… Are we seeking to make money just to buy the best and newest thing, to “have it all,” thinking that will make us happy? Or, if we’re unhappy, do we—deep down—think a steady job with a steady paycheck would fix our problems and grant us peace of mind? Or perhaps we think that the debt hanging over us is the root of our depression and messy relationships. Maybe the real problem we’re facing isn’t a lack of money or a lack of stuff. Maybe the real problem is that we’re looking for the key to lasting happiness in all the wrong places.

Remember the parable of the rich fool (Luke 12:13–21)? The man spent all his life accumulating wealth, but in the end it was worthless. He put all his effort into getting more, even building larger barns to store that additional wealth. He was preparing to live a life in comfort, but in the end, he died and all that effort was for nothing because he hadn’t given any thought to his eternity. The wealth and status he found wasn’t lasting. It brought temporary happiness, but not lasting joy and the good abundant life that we find in eternity with Jesus.

Of course, wealth isn’t inherently bad, and God has granted good gifts to his children, and sometimes that includes money and things. Being wealthy and buying things isn’t evil or bad—when stewarded well, with the proper heart-attitude. But it becomes a problem when our wealth and stuff become idols that consume all of our attention and effort—our worship.

Are we expecting to gain momentary happiness from our stuff, and expecting that happiness to last forever, even for eternity? Or can we recognize our wealth as a good gift from God and not turn it into an idol? Can we place our effort in building eternal, not earthly, treasure?

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Abby Debenedittis

Abby DeBenedittis is a freelance writer and the owner of Quandary Peak Editing. She likes to write about how faith in Jesus Christ influences ordinary life. She’s a fan of adventures in the Rocky Mountains, complicated board games, and lattes from local coffee shops.