Ariana Grande bares her soul in new album 'thank u, next'

Popstar's latest collection is a heart-wrenching rollercoaster ride

Grande's new album is her second release in six months.
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Ariana Grande’s new album, thank u, next, dropped last Friday and is full of depth, lyricism, and perfection—to nobody’s surprise.

The album, which features previously-released songs “7 rings,” “imagine,” and the titular "thank u, next,” is an ode to singledom, luxury, and truthfulness.

It’s the perfect counterpart to Grande’s last album, Sweetener, which had a softer, more romantic tone. Considering the tumultuous six months Grande’s had since her last release, the stark contrast between the records makes sense.

The album starts off with two dreamy tunes, “imagine” and “needy,” before transitioning into standout track “NASA.”

“NASA” highlights the singer’s need to have space—pun intended—from her partner. It’s a departure from most pop songs, which are known for focusing on love, lust, and everything in between. In the song’s bridge, Grande sings, “You don't wanna leave me, but I'm tryna self-discover / Keep me in your orbit and you know you'll drag me under.”

Grande’s new self-awareness shows she’s departed from her previous album’s idealism. In her previous EP’s title track “sweetener,” she sings, “I don't know what I'd do without you in my life, it'd be so sour.” Now, Grande is her own source of sweetness.

Grande’s new self-awareness shows she’s departed from her previous album’s idealism.

The middle tracks of thank u, next convey similar feelings of empowerment. Songs like “bloodline,”“bad idea”and make up leave behind notions of romance in favour of sexuality and fun without attachment; fifth track “fake smile” shows Grande’s commitment to honesty, as she sings, “F—k a fake smile.”

Arguably the most heart-wrenching track on the album,“ghostin," brings her personal struggles back into focus. Grande bares her soul in this tribute to rapper Mac Miller, her ex-boyfriend who passed away last year.

The song, in Grande’s words, is about “feeling badly for the person you're with [because] you love somebody else. [F]eeling badly [because] he can tell he can't compare.”

Although it hasn’t been confirmed by the singer, the lyrics seem to describe how Grande thought about Miller while she was with comedian Pete Davidson, who she was engaged to until October of 2018.

She sings, “Though I wish he were here instead / Don't want that living in your head / He just comes to visit me / When I'm dreaming every now and then.”

The song has only sparse instrumentals and an ethereal sampling of a slowed-down version of Miller’s own song, “2009,” from his 2018 album Swimming.

Grande has admitted the song was difficult for her to record and release, and has told fans its emotional nature means she likely won’t be performing it live anytime soon.

This sorrowful interlude, backed up by the introspective “in my head” about falling for the idea of a person, is followed by three cheerier songs that end the album on a high note. The familiar “7 rings” and “thank u, next” set the stage for Grande’s final badass track: “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored.

The song, which came with a music video posted an hour before Friday’s midnight album release, is a catchy tongue-in-cheek tune about encouraging someone to break up with their partner and sleep with the singer instead. The chorus is carefree and sensual, harkening back to Grande’s Dangerous Woman days: “I know it ain't right / But I don't care / Break up with your girlfriend / Yeah, yeah, 'cause I'm bored.”

Grande truly has fun with this song, going so far as to reinterpret some NSYNC lyrics in the bridge. “You could say I'm hatin' if you want to / But I only hate on her 'cause I want you,” sings Grande, echoing NSYNC’s 2000 song “It Makes Me Ill.”

Grande said on Twitter that the song was included to lighten the mood of the album. She wrote, “[I] liked the idea of ending a more honest [and] vulnerable project [with] a punchline.”

Ultimately, thank u, next is the album both fans and Grande needed after the ups and downs of 2018. Haters may laugh at the idea that a pop album can be therapeutic, but Grande proves them wrong.

Haters may laugh at the idea that a pop album can be therapeutic, but Grande proves them wrong.

The fact that Ariana Grande can be so open in her music after experiencing two break-ups, the death of a loved one, and a terrorist attack in the space of a single year, is a testament to her endless strength. As a fan, I’m inspired every day by her journey.

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