released on October 30, 2015. It serves as the lead single for her
upcoming third studio album. The song was written by
Grande, Savan Kotecha , Peter Svensson , and Ilya .
"Focus" received mixed reviews from music critics, who noted its
similarity to Grande's own " Problem". The song debuted and
peaked at number seven on the Billboard Hot 100 , selling 113,000
downloads in its first week and becoming Grande's sixth top 10
single in the United States.
Grande posted an unfocused picture of herself on Instagram in
July 2015 with the caption "focus", stating it was a hint. Grande
officially announced the single during her September 15, 2015
appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and
revealed that it would be released on October 30, 2015.
Grande started revealing parts of the song's lyrics, video and
audio previews of the song, as well as pixelated versions of the
single's cover in early October through Instagram and Twitter .
She revealed the official "Focus" single art cover on October 14,
2015. A week before its release date, a 15-second section of the
track was used in a commercial for her debut fragrance, Ari by
"Focus" is built on slick synths, clanging percussion and stabbing
big-band brass. The song's structure has been heavily
compared to Grande's previous lead single, " Problem ", from her
album My Everything . In an interview with Entertainment
Tonight, Grande acknowledged its similarity with "Problem",
stating that she thought this song was "the perfect transition
record from the last album to the new album, because it sounds
like 'Problem 2.0'". "Focus" features uncredited vocals from
The song is written in the key of G♯ minor and follows a tempo
of 100 beats per minute. Grande's vocals span from C♯ 4 to G♯ 5
in the song.
Upon release, "Focus" received mixed reviews from music critics.
Kaitlyn Tiffany from The Verge commented positively saying, "As
Ariana Grande is a massively talented vocalist, the song "Focus"
itself is very pleasant to listen to". Brennan Carley of Spin
had a mixed opinion, commenting that the song was a "catchy
slow-burn", describing it as a "horn heavy piece of retro-modern
fusion". However, he also noted that Grande's vocals "[lacked]
any real excitement from a star who’s got the restraint and skill
to take her instrument places most other pop singers can’t
anymore". He criticized the "male howling the faux-chorus" for
"[getting] grating quickly" and for making "Focus" too similar to
Grande's previous lead single " Problem". Time 's Nolan Feeney
also commented it for being similar to "Problem", but noted that
this might not be a bad thing, saying: "If it ain't broke, don't fix it
—no need for Grande to check her vision here".
Steven J. Horowitz and Alex Gale from Billboard rated the song
two-and-a-half out of five stars, commenting "Grande has never
released a less-than-great single, until now, with 'Focus', a rehash
of 2014's 'Problem'." Time named "Focus" the sixth-worst
song of 2015.
"Focus" debuted at number 10 on the Official Singles Chart in the
UK, marking it as Grande's third top 10 single in the country,
following number one singles " Problem" and " Bang Bang ". In
the United States, "Focus" debuted at number seven on the
Billboard Hot 100 , becoming Grande's sixth top 10 single (and
fourth top 10 debut), selling 113,000 copies in its first week.
With the release of "Focus", Grande became the first artist to
have all lead singles from her first three albums debut in the top
10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. In addition to that, it also
became her first top 10 song in the US unaccompanied by
another artist. The song fell to number 13 in its second week. It spent thirteen weeks on the chart, which is significantly
lower than the chart longetivity of Grande's previous lead single,
" Problem " from My Everything (2014), which spent sixteen
consecutive weeks in the Top 10.
Grande performed the song live for the first time on the Honda
Stage at the iHeartRadio Theater LA on October 30, 2015. She
also performed "Focus" at the 2015 American Music Awards held
on November 22, 2015, which was ranked by Billboard as the best
performance of the night. Grande performed "Focus" along
with a cover of "Zero to Hero" on Disney's Christmas Day
Hannah Lux Davis directed the music video, which was released
on October 29, 2015. She had previously directed the music
videos for Grande's " Love Me Harder " and her joint single " Bang
Bang ". It features the Samsung Galaxy Note 5 throughout the
music video. The video surpassed 100 million views on
November 19, 2015, making it Grande's eighth Vevo-certified
music video after " Baby I ".
The video begins with video flashes of Grande in a two-piece
outfit and platinum hair as shown in the single art cover. She
makes several different poses while standing/dancing inside of a
circular shape. The circle is meant to look like a camera lens and
is one way of using the song title, "Focus". As the video
progresses, Grande and numerous female background dancers
perform multiple choreographed numbers, including the big bridge
choreographed number halfway into the track. For this number,
they wear matching outfits that are mostly black with white stars.
The dancers have a different style of outfit, wearing starry pants.
While still matching, Ariana's outfit is a starry bodysuit. The song
progresses on and ends with Grande striking a final pose as the
The video has received positive reviews from critics. Nick Maslow
of People says, ""Focus" finds Grande in a world of purple – even
the diva's locks are a shade of lavender, a look she teased on
Instagram earlier this month." He goes on to say, "Grande
embraces her sultry side for the clip, performing intense
choreography and delivering flirty lines like, 'Just come and get it
– let them say what they say.'" Michelle Geslani of
Consequence of Sound praised the video as, "A groovy number
from the get-go, it's highlighted by a massive chorus which
couples the stylish attitude and busy percussion of tracks like
" Bang Bang " and " Problem" with some urgent pleading that
strangely enough reminds me of Mystikal’s " Shake Ya Ass ".