UPDATE (1/21/20, 5:14 AM ET): Jon Brion, the producer of Mac Miller’s album, Circles, believes that fans indeed heard Ariana Grande’s voice on the track “I Can See.” After much speculation, The New York Times posed the question to Jon and he admitted, “I believe there are.” However, he added, “Somebody just told me something about that, some kerfuffle. I mean, that was a pre-existing track. There were a few songs the family gave me that he’d been working on independently that I thought fit thematically with what we had worked on. ‘I Can See’ was one of those… I played some things on those tracks to make them feel like the others, but those vocals were already there. It wasn’t like an executive decision or anything.”
ORIGINAL: Sixteen months since Mac Miller’s death from an accidental fentanyl overdose, the rapper’s posthumous album Circles was released to the public on Jan. 17. Unfinished at the time of his 2018 passing, the record was completed with help from musician Jon Brion and serves as a companion to the album he put out before his death, Swimming. As soon as Circles hit the streaming services, fans searched the lyrics to connect with Mac (born Malcolm McCormick) one more time, and perhaps make sense of his senseless death. They may have also found a special tribute from none other than his ex-girlfriend, Ariana Grande, 26, paid in the form of background vocals on track No. 4, “I Can See.”
In the chorus, a heavenly soprano voice — much like Ariana’s — can be heard harmonizing with Mac as he sings lines like, “And now I know if life but a dream I’m so worried.” Fans need confirmation now. “@ArianaGrande if that’s you on ‘i can see’ please tell me because i’m sobbing rn,” one fan tweeted, while another listener asked on Twitter, “were those ariana’s backing vocals in i can see?” The question echoed throughout the Internet — some even assumed it was indeed her — although the singer herself has not revealed if this is true or not. She did, however, “like” Apple Music’s tweet that announced the album had dropped!
“People don’t see any of the real stuff that happens, so they are loud about what they think happened,” Ariana said to Vogue in July 2019 when speaking publicly for the first time about Mac’s death. In the conversation, she referenced a tweet In which she blasted the public for “shaming/blaming women for a man’s inability to keep his sh-t together,” and that she had prayed for his sobriety for years. “They didn’t see the years of work and fighting and trying, or the love and exhaustion. That tweet came from a place of complete defeat, and you have no idea how many times I warned him that that would happen and fought that fight, for how many years of our friendship, of our relationship. You have no idea, so you’re not allowed to pull that card because you don’t f-cking know.”
IS THAT REALLY ARIANA IN THE BACK OF I CAN SEE BC I AM CRYING
— jess ♡︎ h. (@sugaaharry) January 17, 2020
“He was the best person ever,” she said. “And he didn’t deserve the demons he had. I was the glue for such a long time, and I found myself becoming … less and less sticky. The pieces just started to float away.” Ariana also said she spent the majority of her Dangerous Woman tour trying to keep track of her then-boyfriend and make sure he wasn’t on a “bender.” Ultimately, it was too much for Ariana.
Ariana and Mac’s relationship started with some social media flirtation in 2012. The interaction led to them working together on “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” The two kissed in the music video for their second collaboration, 2013’s “The Way,” sparking dating rumors that would follow them for three years. They reunited on Ariana’s “Into You” single in 2016 and went public with their romance that same year. Their romance lasted until their May 2018 breakup. Afterward, she called Mac “one of my best friends in the whole world and favorite people on the planet.” Four months later, his demons would get the best of him, and he would be found dead due to an accidental fentanyl overdose.
Since his passing, Mac’s music has found its way to fans. He was featured on “Time” by the Free Nationals and on “That’s Life” with 88-Keys and Sia. The announcement of Circles came on Jan. 8. “At the time of his passing, Malcolm was well into the process of recording his companion album to Swimming, entitled Circles. Two different styles complementing each other, completing a circle – Swimming in Circles was the concept.” The statement explained that Jon, who had worked with Mac on the unfinished project, “dedicated himself to finishing Circles based on his time and conversations with Malcolm.”
“This is a complicated process that has no right answer,” the family added. “No clear path. We simply know it was important to Malcolm for the world to hear it.”