Ariana Grande’s newest album thank u, next is a tribute to her turbulent past and a remastered take on her unique style, which proves that she will likely be in the spotlight for many more years.
As a close release to her fourth studio album Sweetener, which was released just a few months prior, the album and its namesake single became a social media sensation.
Grande pulls inspiration from her broken engagement to Saturday Night Live star Pete Davidson, the passing of ex-boyfriend rapper Mac Miller, and her relationships with several of her exes on the leading single off the album of the same name, thank u, next. She addresses her gratefulness for them, singing, “One taught me love, one taught me patience and one taught me pain.” The song was a surprise release in Nov. 2018, soon after Sweetener.
On first listen, the song felt repetitive and didn’t meet personal expectations. Nevertheless, the song came with immense enthusiasm from social media, and it seemed that in little time everyone was saying “thank u, next” whenever possible; the radio played it 24/7. Soon enough the song grew on me, and I couldn’t wait for the full album.
By the album’s release, two more singles had been released, “imagine” and “7 rings.” “7 rings” showcased Grande’s voice and unique minimalist instrumentals, sampling the melody of the classic song “My Favorite Things” from the movie “The Sound of Music,” but instead of raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens, she sings about lashes and diamonds and how “happiness is the same price as red-bottoms.”
On Feb. 8 when the album was released, I listened through it on repeat throughout the day. I had made up my mind– this album could walk right up to Sweetener and say, “I’m you, but stronger.”
Grande made each and every song meaningful while staying true to her style, yet each song had its own story.
The song “ghostin” made a huge impact on listeners with the alleged instrumentals of Mac Miller’s song “2009.” Yet, the ballad is speculated to be an apology to Davidson about how her mourning of Miller affected their relationship, as she sings, “You been so understanding, you been so good, and I’m puttin’ you through more than one ever should.”
Additionally, the album spoke of her fame and fortune with “fake smile,” which is about the facade she is forced to put up despite all that she’s been through, saying, “I’m happy for the love and all of the above, If I’m being honest, I done been through way too much.”
The messages, whether clear or vague, become more meaningful with every listen of the record.
The closing song, “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored” brings a fun ending to an otherwise heavy album, and it is what the title says. As one of my personal favorites, it’s the kind you can sing along to and the kind that sticks in your head like glue.
The album’s quick production– a Feb. 9 Rolling Stone article stated she made the album in two weeks– and lack of collaborations had no impact on the sound of the record, and despite its undoubtedly overplayed singles, this album is worth checking out. You may find several unsung gems, as Grande has done it again. She has proven that she is better than ever.