The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

The Student News Site of Alexandria City High School

Theogony

Review: Ariana Grande’s thank u, next

Album cover for thank u, next. Photo courtesy of Republic Records
Album cover for thank u, next. Photo courtesy of Republic Records

Ariana Grande released her newest album, thank u, next, only five months after her last album, Sweetener (check out Theogony’s review on it online under “Summer Music in Review”). Thank u, next follows Grande after her heart is broken, which was taken as inspiration from Grande’s real love life after breaking up with former fiance Pete Davidson. It is the counterbalance we need to the blindly-in-love Sweetener, by bringing the songs back to a more melancholic reality on relationships.

In retrospect, Sweetener was required, a necessary post-tragedy reminder of life and liberty. In contrast, thank u, next feels like the reality following Sweetener’s catharsis. There are no out of place guest features (there are none) or ingenuine, if technically perfect, ballads, as on past albums; she no longer needs those distractions. But as usual, it’s Grande’s voice—gently whistling here, totally killing it there, always undeniable—that carries the album.

The production of all songs are great starting points, with only some taking off. The album consists of empty trap beats, giving off a dark ambience to the songs. Most songs also start with some form of sample/recorded conversation, similar to SZA’s Ctrl. Songs like “7 rings” and “ghostin” soar with only a drum beat and synthesizers, while others like “bloodline” and “bad idea” sound like demos from the album. It needs someone to come in and make each song on the album fluid and connecting, without sounding repetitive.

The best songs on the album are “needy,” “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored,” and the title song. All show very different sides of Grande on her journey with love and relationships. “needy” shows her insecure side in a relationship, with the production quiet and accented by choral hums. “break up with your girlfriend. i’m bored” is a very self explanatory song, with echoing kickdrums rushing through the background like a rapid. And the titular “thank u, next” is now in pop culture canon, with the name dropping of past exes, and is really catchy. 

Grande explained in a recent Billboard interview that her motivation is “to release music like rappers do”—without the burden or unwieldiness of the major label machine, but certainly with much of its power. This makes perfect sense for the spontaneity of thank u, next and maybe the lack of overall quality. It’s more like a mixtape that a indie artist makes, capturing a fleeting moment with some missteps. The lack of polishing makes the album’s idea more poignant, as it sounds more real and less like a perfect pop song.

Thank u, next may be rushed with some flat lyrics and empty production; but that is what makes it so good. It is a true reflection of Grande’s personal life and ideology, with all of the half baked ideas and unpolished moments. It gives off a certain feeling and sound foreign to Grande, but it also shows her growth and confidence in the music industry to experiment. 

All in all, nothing on thank u, next compares to Grande’s rework of Imogen Heap’s “Goodnight and Go” on Sweetener.

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Review: Ariana Grande’s thank u, next