Ariana Grande’s musical impressions on The Tonight Show blew host Jimmy Fallon’s out of the water on Sept. 15. It wasn’t a competition, but if it had been, the pop star would have crushed him, given her almost frighteningly good imitations of Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Celine Dion.
For the game (“Wheel of Musical Impressions”), Fallon had a musical impressions generator, which randomly paired artist names with song titles. He and Grande then took turns at singing the song as if they were the musician whose name popped up. Naturally, there was a lot of potential for mismatches, but that was part of the charm.
It was clear that Grande was more than just good at the game when she started singing Mary Had a Little Lamb as pop princess Britney Spears, but she took it to a whole new level with her rendition of The Wheels on the Bus as powerhouse Christina Aguilera. Fallon performed his impressions of R&B’s Aaron Neville singing the highly auto-tuned Cheerleader admirably, but it just couldn’t compare.
To close out the performance, the two ended up singing current club staple Can’t Feel My Face with Fallon as Sting and Grande as Celine Dion. Again, the pop star stole the show. Maybe it was to be expected, given that she’s a professional singer, but the attention to detail was spot-on. Not only did she manage to capture the French-Canadian musician’s frequent hand gestures and asides to the audience, there was even a hint of a Québécois accent.
Based on how well Grande did with “Wheel of Musical Impressions,” Fallon should get her back on the show down the road. He doesn’t necessarily have to make her the next Justin Timberlake (who visits so frequently that he and Fallon have coffee mugs with each other’s mugs on them), but we’d like to see more of what she can do.