Ariana Grande released her highly anticipated fifth studio album “thank u, next” on Feb. 8, 2019. After “Sweetener,” this is her second album released in the past six months. In contrast to “Sweetener” – which is a much sassier album – “thank u, next” showcases the pain and the suffering she has been through in this tumultuous time period, with her ex Mac Miller’s overdose and her very public breakup with actor/comedian Pete Davidson. In “thank u, next,” there is more of a self-discovery aspect as she acknowledges her pain and flaws.
The first few singles she released received global recognition: the title track, “thank u, next,” swept the world in an obsession; “imagine” was a beautiful ode to a love she desires but cannot have, and “7 rings” underscores her success in her career; each song had a different vibe and attitude, but each one ties into her experiences. In this album, Grande does not seem to be using vocally intense and exhausting notes as she used to in her earlier albums, but she nonetheless shows her vocal prowess in the runs, the whistle notes, and the demonstration of a large range of notes she sings throughout the album.
After “imagine,” “needy” admits to her shortcomings when it comes to her relationships; she describes herself as obsessive and clingy. She apologizes repeatedly for her volatile emotions and her self-deprecating thoughts. She craves emotional support, especially after all she has been through. This beautiful, raw self-revelation alludes to her anxiety and PTSD symptoms after the Manchester bombing at her concert, and she writes how this experience channels into her relationships.
On the other hand, “NASA” puts relationships into a different perspective and emphasizes the importance of “me time.” She doesn’t fail to tell this human-in-question that she loves him, but she says that she needs to take time and focus on herself for a little while now so that their relationship can function better later. In the beginning of the song, a voice booms “This is one small step for woman, One giant leap for womankind” and ties back into Ariana Grande’s power to say ‘not tonight’- a feminism aspect, if you will.
In “bloodline” and “bad idea,” she talks about meaningless flings under the desire to numb her pain with quick fixes. The fast beats and powerful runs in both of these songs makes them sound very fun; however, the underlying concept in the songs – that she is no longer trying to find her true love – reveals so much of Grande’s hurt.
“Ghostin” was the most emotional and tear-rendering song of “thank u, next.” I personally felt her suffering and agony. This song is about the death of her ex, Mac Miller, someone she loved for a really long time, and the popular speculation is that this song is how Pete Davidson stayed with her during this heartbreaking time and dealt with her emotions over her ex. I was close to tears with this song and with her, I believed that “we’ll get through this, we’ll get past this.”
“Thank u, next” is an album with pain, suffering, love, and loss, and Grande executed the emotions so well that it struck in her listeners’ hearts.