“Side to Side” by Ariana Grande (ft. Nicki Minaj)

The main storyline featured in “Side to Side” is rather simple. Ariana Grande is attracted to a certain dude who has a “bad reputation”. And her attraction to him is, succinctly put, carnal in nature. She likes the way his body looks, specifically in terms of picturing it against her own. So she very much wants to hook up with him. And the implication is that this is a down-low romance. Indeed, in the name of most-efficiently reaching her aspiration, the singer prefers it that way. Or rather let’s say the social and even emotional aspect of this relationship does not concern her. Instead what she actually relishes is having a lover who makes good love to her so that afterwards she is “walking side to side”.

You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Ariana Grande's Side to Side at Lyrics.org.

Nicki Minaj steps in

And it is actually Nicki Minaj who at the end of the day adds a bit more complexity to this song. Her refrain partially deals with bedroom fun alright. But she also drops a line which has a double entendre, if you will, in which the word “blow” can be interpreted as referring to either a sensual act or a drug.

And her rap, which occupies the third verse of the track, deviates from the topic of romance altogether. It instead reads more like the type of boasting which Nicki is known for. So for instance, she starts by throwing shade at her imitators and claiming that her ‘body is smoking’, as in she being very-attractive. And basically, the rest of the verse is dedicated to Minaj touting her street toughness and wealth. She ends it all by proclaiming herself the “queen of rap” and Ariana as the lady who ‘runs pop’ music.

Meaning of “Side to Side”

Ultimately according to Ari-Chan herself, this “whole song is about riding leading to soreness”. Or succinctly put, this is a track about vigorous and enjoyable bedroom fun.

Lyrics of “Side by Side”

Facts about “Side to Side”

This song was written by Grande and Minaj along with five other writers. These songwriters are:

  • ILYA
  • Savan Kotecha
  • Alexander Kronlund
  • Max Martin
  • ILYA

And co-writers ILYA and Martin also produced the track.

“Side to Side” came out with the album it is featured on, Ariana’s third, “Dangerous Woman”, on 20 May 2016. And later Republic Records also released it as the third single from that project.

But even prior to the release of the album itself Ariana premiered the tune, via Apple Music, on 14 May 2016.

And it was on 18 May 2016, at a NYC event called Vevo Presents: Ariana Grande, that Ari-Chan first performed “Side by Side” live.

Hannah Lux Davis directed the music video of this tune. It went on to be nominated for a MTV VMA in 2017, in the category of Best Choreography. And it actually made its premiere, on 28 August 2016, via the website of the popular fashion brand Guess. Part of the reason for this would logically have something to do with Ariana being outfitted with Guess attire throughout the clip.

And heading into 2020, it is one of the most-viewed videos on YouTube, having garnered well in excess of one and-a-half billion views already.

“Side to Side” makes an appearance in the 2017 Ubisoft videogame “Just Dance 2018”.

This tune wound up being a smash hit. The song charted in well over 30 nations, which includes countries in North America, South America, Europe, Oceania and Asia. And the countries where it actually topped the charts are the United States, Canada, Greece and Venezuela.

Moreover this song has gone double-Platinum (or higher) in the US, UK, Australia, Canada and Italy.


In March of 2018 Universal Music Group, the parent company of Republic Records, were sued by a musician named Christopher R. O’Connor. According to O’Connor, the song was a plagiarism of a song he created entitled “J5 (T6)”.

Was this the first collaboration between Nicki Minaj and Ariana Grande?

No. Ariana and Minaj collaborated a couple of times, both in 2014, prior to this. That is why Grande was able to exclaim, upon recording this song, that Minaj “kills it every single time” and that she “love(s) Nicki so much”. And accordingly they teamed up on quite a few additional tracks since then.

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