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“thank u, next” Review: Ariana Grande bares soul in latest album

The pop songstress channels grief in her fifth studio album.

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“thank u, next” Review: Ariana Grande bares soul in latest album

Kayla Santos, Deputy Arts & Entertainment Editor

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Released almost six months after “Sweetener,” Ariana Grande’s latest studio album “thank u, next” honestly expresses her whirlwind of heartache. Although Billboard crowned her 2018 Woman of the Year, Grande confessed that it had been the “best year of [her] career and the worst of [her] life.” Written and mixed in only two weeks, Grande allowed her anguish to fuel her 12-track project. Since its Feb. 8 release, each of those 12 songs have amassed over 10 million streams on Spotify alone.

CAREFREE EXPLORATION

Grande introduces listeners to the album with trap-inspired, R&B pop ballad “imagine,” displaying her desire for an “unattainable love.” With its lethargic trap beats and climactic post-chorus whistles, “imagine” eases us into the rest of the album.

Grande continues crooning about her lovestruck situation in “needy,” expressing her insecurity and longing for affection over a blaring keyboard and snappy beats until the string-suffused, symphonic outro.

“I admit that I’m a ‘lil messed up,” Grande sings in the song’s chorus. “But all I can say is at least I’ll wait for you.”

Cleverly displaying her need for space in a relationship, Grande titles her third track “NASA.” More upbeat than the previous two songs, the track features trap beats, soprano background vocals and a heavy bassline throughout the song to balance the bouncy chorus.

Continuing to express honest feelings about her romantic situation, Grande channels more pop vibes through uptempo brassy lilts in “bloodline,” revealing her desire for a good time without having to commit to a relationship.

Grande then introduces “fake smile” with an opening sample from Wendy Rene’s “After Laughter (Comes Tears).” From the bombing at her 2017 concert in Manchester, England to the death of ex-boyfriend Mac Miller, listeners know Grande is no stranger to heartache. In this track, she breaks down her distaste for presenting a facade to others through Rene’s running sample and light trap beats to support her distinct falsetto vocals.

“I can’t fake another smile,” Grande sings in the song’s chorus. “I can’t fake like I’m alright.”

Portraying an array of strings throughout the track, “bad idea” remains one of the most upbeat songs of the album, yet also displaying Grande’s desire to numb her pain. Trap beats and heavy basslines prevail in “make up,” which builds off the previous song’s message of wanting to numb pain through meaningless romantic encounters.

MISSING MAC

Slowing the album down, Grande treats listeners with the euphoric “ghostin,” paralleling Mac Miller’s “2009.” With the return of cellos, symphonic strings and angelic background vocals, Grande honestly candidly confesses her emotional bond to another man even though she is in a relationship. Speculators suggest the song is about Grande dealing with Miller’s death during her engagement to then-fiance Pete Davidson.

“I know that it breaks your heart when I cry again over him,” Grande sings in the song’s chorus.

ENERGETIC ENDING

After the dramatic “ghostin,” Grande picks up the speed again in the album’s last four tracks. Exhibiting a strong electronic influence, Grande admits to being in love with the thought of someone rather than the actual person in “in my head.” The following track, “7 rings,” released as a single last month, infuses The Sound of Music’s “My Favorite Things” with modern trap beats and keys, resulting in a similar sound to Soulja Boy’s “Pretty Boy Swag” in its chorus. Grande revealed on Twitter the song is about her friends taking her to Tiffany’s after a rough day, where Grande bought them all rings.

Grande takes honesty to a different level in following song “thank u, next,” which released as the album’s first single in November. In this twinkling pop song, Grande mentions her ex-boyfriends and thanks them for what their relationships have taught her. Sampling NSYNC’s “It Makes Me Ill” in its bridge, Grande closes the women-empowerment-driven album with “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored.”

In a departure from her previous albums, Grande invites listeners into her personal situations. Through the 41 total minutes of the project, Grande shares the depths of her heart with us, showing that fame does not come with a perfect lifestyle.

About the Writer
Kayla Santos, Deputy Arts & Entertainment Editor

&Kayla Santos is a junior journalism major who loves gooey chocolate chip cookies, traveling to new places, and playing with her dog named Karl.

[email protected]



Hello friends! I come to you from the city of San Jose, California, which is located about six hours north of La Mirada and one hour south of San Francisco. I’ve always loved sports. I was always that girl that would rather be out playing basketball than going shopping or doing makeovers. I came into Biola as a kinesiology...

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“thank u, next” Review: Ariana Grande bares soul in latest album