Sweetener was released Aug. 17, 2018, and less than six months later, Ariana Grande released thank u, next. This album is easily one of the best that Grande has written. The anticipation for the full project’s release began when her singles “thank u, next” dropped in November, and “7 rings” that followed in January. Both songs feature a more upbeat message that provokes singing and dancing from her fans and other listeners. These releases fueled her fans with more anticipation for her music videos and her full album — complete with 12 songs.
Apart from the singles, the top songs that captivated me as a listener are:
While the engagement between Grande and Pete Davidson was short-lived, this song is Grande’s way of telling him he did a great job supporting her while she mourned Mac Miller. This song features strong vocals and a very personal side of the artist. While the song is slower than the others on this album, Grande’s vocals are soothing and allow the listener to focus on what she is singing about with ease. This song is for and about both Miller and Davidson, but is also a testament to Grande’s ability to simplify the message.
This song is about Grande’s need to not be in a serious relationship after the tragedies and scandals that have surrounded her this past year. This infectious, jazzy song leads any listener to dance to the beat or be in a feel-good mood. After her past relationships with Miller and Davidson, it is understandable that she would need something different. This album is a new era for Grande — it is fitting that this song is done in a style we haven’t heard from her yet on her other albums.
Much like the theme in “bloodline,” Grande uses this song to express that she is in need of space. The title is fitting, in that Grande needs to explore on her own and stay out of serious relationships to focus on herself. This song is more than just a classic hit off album, it is about Grande and what she has learned about herself this past year. The chorus is captivating and the background vocals by Grande push the song in new directions after every verse. This approach allows the song to stand alone while also belonging with the other 11 songs.
While people may be under the illusion that a celebrity would have a consistently happy and glamorous life, Grande explains that celebrities feel anger, pain and sorrow too. In the past year, Grande has experienced a terrorist attack and the loss of a loved one. In this song, she expresses her lack of ability to put on a fake smile for people. While this song is more personal, it is not a boring song, as the first 20 seconds are actually a sample from Wendy Rene’s “After Laughter,” which then turns to a more modern beat with Grande’s smooth vocals.
“thank u, next”
It is only fitting that the single that started it all is among the top songs of the album. Grande pulled from classic movies that feature a strong leading woman for the music video to help visualize the self-love anthem. Among those movies are Mean Girls, Legally Blonde, Bring It On and 13 Going on 30. After releasing this as her first single for the album, the music video did not disappoint her fans and made them even more excited for the next 11 songs that would accompany the album.
Overall, thank u, next is by far the best album that Grande has released. It’s full of her personal thoughts while also having feel-good songs. This album may be different from her previous albums but has earned unprecedented popularity and high ratings on iTunes and Spotify. An album that is released less than six months after her previous album is enough proof that Grande is finding what she needs to succeed in the industry and in her life.