How producer Nick Lee helped Ariana Grande make the most personal song on her new album

How producer Nick Lee helped Ariana Grande make the most personal song on her new album
  • Ariana Grande's new album "Eternal Sunshine" ends with a personal ballad called "Ordinary Things."

  • Nick Lee is credited as a coproducer on the song, as well as the album's intro track.

  • Lee spoke to BI about working with Grande and making a pop album from opposite coasts.

If Ariana Grande's new album "Eternal Sunshine" has a moral, it won't be found on the club-ready lead single "Yes, and?" or the aching title track. It's the closer, "Ordinary Things," that shimmers with growth, clarity, and generational wisdom.

After spending much of the album awash in heartache and uncertainty, Grande lets her grandmother, Marjorie Grande, credited as "Nonna," have the album's literal last word. As the horn loop on "Ordinary Things" fades out, she explains in a candid voice recording how it feels to be in love, nudging her granddaughter to find divinity in the everyday: "When he'd come home and I'd see him, it was like God almighty arrived. It was like seeing daylight," she says.

It's the most intimate moment on Grande's seventh album, "Eternal Sunshine," released Friday, and it all came together with the help of Nick Lee.


Lee, who is credited as a coproducer on "Ordinary Things," made the song's original beat with his friend Luka Kloser. It was one of dozens they sent to Max Martin while he was working with Grande to record "Eternal Sunshine" in New York City, hoping something might pique her interest.

Something did. The track she hand-picked for "Ordinary Things" was also Lee's favorite among the options they pitched.

"When you work with a bunch of artists, it's not a lot of the time when they'll open up so personally on a song that you did," Lee told Business Insider. "This one immediately felt special."

"Having her grandma on the song obviously added layers of meaning," he added. "We heard from Max Martin that she really felt a certain way about this one."

Lee, Kloser, Martin, and Grande all worked remotely to flesh out the song's production, sharing updated drafted and tweaked mixes from coast to coast.

In working on the track, Grande's most consistent focus was her vocals — how they sit in the song, the ebbs and flows in volume and texture.

"She did all of her vocal production," he said. "She was very, very involved in recording herself and the engineering and the production aspect of it."

The Los Angeles-based producer, who trained as a classical jazz musician at Julliard, recorded about 20 layers of trombone for the final cut of "Ordinary Things," cushioning the song with a sense of warmth and triumph. Then he and Kloser refined the beat to suit the mood.

"We wanted the drums to match the same character and attitude as the horns: elegant and subtle but with soul and a lot of depth to it," he explained.

Lee also coproduced the album's first track with Grande, Shintaro Yasuda, and Aaron Paris. "Intro (End of the World)" is intended as a companion to "Ordinary Things," lyrically and sonically. Both songs feature Lee's signature brass instrument, filtered through the same production effect to give the horns a "washy, vibey, wavy sound."

The intro and closer are arguably an album's most consequential songs — the listener's first impression and lasting taste.

For "Eternal Sunshine," this is especially true. "Intro (End of the World)" and "Ordinary Things" frame the album as a sacred quest to find peace and romantic clarity. In the former, Grande asks, "How can I tell if I'm in the right relationship?"

In the latter, Nonna offers an answer: "Never go to bed without kissing goodnight," she advises. "If you don't feel comfortable doing it, you're in the wrong place. Get out."

Lee wasn't involved with the other 11 tracks, so he was delighted to hear how everything fell into place on the finished album.

Particularly in the era of remote work, music production can be a solitary process; it doesn't often lead to a blockbuster pop album like "Eternal Sunshine," which already broke this year's record for the most streams in a single day on Spotify.

But for Lee, that's not the point.

"I just make stuff with my friends that I really, really love," Lee said. "Then eventually and hopefully it ends up with the right artist who also loves it."

Read the original article on Business Insider