It’s not quite a fairy tale story for two guys from Pittsburgh named “Mikey” and “Scootie” to be defining the sound of one of today’s most prominent pop stars — but it’s pretty close. After moving from Pennsylvania to Los Angeles separately, aspiring producers Michael Foster (Mikey) and Charles Anderson (Scootie) quickly linked up at central recording house where they’d go work on music with a collective of musicians who were all in and out — hence their moniker — and immediately noticed they complemented each other in an undeniable way.
“The chemistry was good, our songs came out pretty well, and people started wanting some music from us,” Foster explained to Wild 94.1’s show The Nuthouse back in 2018, when their collaboration with Lil Yachty, “Magic In The Hamptons,” was blowing up on Spotify’s Viral Charts and got a look from radio when Z100 added it to their rotation. Foster and Anderson admitted that after writing that song, they loved it so much that they knew giving the song away to a different artist would be a mistake, opting, instead, to feature Yachty on a verse.
But their biggest looks to date have been their work with Ariana Grande. Of their many collaborations, it’s only the latest track, “Boyfriend,” that gives the artists their own feature on the song instead of being tucked quietly in the production credits. And their work with Ari goes back farther than most people think. As part of Scooter Braun’s hand-picked, exclusive roster, Foster began working with Grande back in 2015 on her holiday EP Christmas & Chill, which mostly flew under the radar, but both members of Social House also helped contribute to her blockbuster 2018 record, Sweetener, namely the beloved rework of Imogen Heap’s “Goodnight N Go,” and the fan-favorite, loved-up and sadly obsolete snippet, “Pete Davidson.”
While those two songs were critically acclaimed album cuts, it was when Grande released the left turn of a single, “Thank U, Next,” last winter that Social House really began to get their due. Dropping the song when rumors about Grande’s breakup with her former instant-fiancé Davidson wouldn’t stop swirling, the smeary-sweet synths and shoestring beat provided an idyllic background for Ariana to quell any rumors of hard feelings between her and, well, any of her exes. It was a fitting sendoff to her late ex Mac Miller, too, addressing the elephant in the room after his death while still centering Grande’s own growth and forward momentum.
As the song became a record-breaking hit for Ariana, Social House was announced as an opening act on her Sweetener tour, strengthening the link between the two artists and putting the Foster and Anderson on the map for live audiences in an immediate way. And though Ariana Grande has been a successful pop star for almost a decade now, the trajectory of her career majorly shifted after “Thank U, Next,” and her next blockbuster single, “7 Rings,” another track with Social House’s fingerprints all over it. One critic argued that “Thank U, Next” began Grande’s imperial phase as a pop star, and the critical acclaim was immediate and generous.
But the commercial success of these two singles — along with “Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored,” a Max Martin specialty, not a Social House hit — was another factor in her newfound dominance. The combination of those songs led to Ariana tying a record previously held by The Beatles by having the top three songs in the country at the same time. Second, it ushered in a new sonic era for Grande, who is leaning more heavily into a contemporary hip-hop sound than ever before, and refocusing herself not just as a singer with a classic diva voice, but one who can handle the cadences and casualness of rap if she tries, and one who has something important and resonant to say about modern relationships and the role of young women in a new world order.