But don’t blame the songbird for lines such as “Now that I’ve become who I really are” and “I only wanna die alive” — blame über-producer Max Martin, who made her do it.
“I fought him on it the whole time,” Grande tells TIME. “‘I am not going to sing a grammatically incorrect lyric, help me, God!’ Max was like, ‘It’s funny — just do it!’ I know it’s funny and silly, but grammatically incorrect things make me cringe sometimes.”
Eventually she acquiesced, and the singer, whose album My Everything drops later this month, says she’s learned to love the lyrical quirks of “Break Free” given the song’s message.
“I was like, whatever, let’s do it and have some fun,” Grande says. “I need to shake it off and let it go and be a little less rigid and old. I’m like 90. I need to not be that old.”
As for only wanting to die alive? “It means life is so short — there’s no reason to not enjoy it and there’s no reason you should be anything but yourself,” she says. “Have fun, be spontaneous and let go. It’s O.K. to cut off whatever you feel is holding you back.” Even if what’s holding you back is proper grammar.