(Un)Covered: Problem

Ariana Grande vs Set It Off By | August 23, 2017 at 1:00 PM

Problem”
Writers: Max Martin, Savan Kotecha, Ilya Salmanzadeh, Amethyst Kelly, Ariana Grande
Original Release Date: April 28, 2014

I’ve got 99 problems, and having this Ariana Grande song stuck in my head is one of them (but I’m not complaining).

I’m not an Arianator—if you wanna talk Miss Grande, hit up this week’s birthday girl/idobi’s tattoo queen, the marvelous Emillie Marvel—but even I can’t resist this song. Whatever you think of Ariana Grande, you can’t deny the girl’s got an impressive set of pipes, and she lets them soar on “Problem”. It’s catchy with fun instrumentation (Trumpets! Saxophones! Drums!), and has a surprising amount of depth once you look into the lyrics: Grande herself described the song as representing “the feeling of being absolutely terrified to re-approach a relationship that’s gone sour—but you want to more than anything”. I’m not sure what the point of Iggy Azalea’s rap verse is, apart from reiterating how she’s better off without this person in her life, but it’s a powerful show of female support.

My favorite part of the Set It Off cover is the bass in the chorus: Turn it up all the way when you’re listening to this out loud and revel in the way it shakes your speakers. The heavier instrumentation brings “Problem” from “dance pop” to “pop punk” within seconds of the song starting, and they really make it their own, giving it the theatrical vibe that defines their own music. While I can keep up with Iggy’s rap in the original, I trip over my words when I’m trying to mimic Cody Carson (seriously, how does he rap that fast??), and I love the “No Scrubs” reference in the second verse.

If you think you’re too pop punk to listen to Ariana Grande, spinning the Set It Off cover is the ideal solution to your, um, problem.