by Cate Engles
With only five months since her last hit album, Ariana Grande dropped “thank u, next” early this February. The album is composed of twelve songs that recount the recent events which have defined her. In May of 2017, her Manchester concert became the location of a terrorist attack, causing her to develop physical anxiety. As she coped with this, she still made music and made public appearances and even performed a free concert for the people of Manchester. Things were looking up when she announced she was engaged to Pete Davidson, a Saturday Night Live comedian, this past summer. Yet in September of the same year, news of Grande’s ex-boyfriend Mac Miller’s death (caused by an accidental drug overdose) shocked the pop artist and ultimately caused her to call off her engagement to Pete. After all she has been through, she has proven that god may actually be a woman, for she produced another hit album.
This is not the first time Grande has taken moments from her life to write about. Her album, “My Everything” was mainly about the rapper Big Sean, whom she was dating at the time. “sweetener” was both about her coping with the Manchester attack and her relationship with Pete Davidson. Her song “get well soon” from the album payed tribute to those who died in Manchester by leaving forty seconds of silence, making the song five minutes and twenty-two seconds in all. The event occurred on May 22nd (5/22), and there also twenty-two people who died. Ariana Grande is known for adding hints to her music, as well as her music videos, that relate to something in her life. The “thank you, next” album is a prime demonstration of this.
Grande starts the album with “imagine,” which pays tribute to the late Mac Miller. It describes a world where her relationship with him perfect, though, as we know, there were still many difficulties in real life, for Miller was an avid drug user. “needy” follows this song, and it focuses more on how Ariana perceives herself in relationships. It acknowledges how her pain has required her to lean on someone, most likely Pete. In this song, Grande is completely honest with her emotions; she did not hold back when writing this one. The album’s third song, “NASA,” is an anthem for independent ladies. It focuses on the need to sometimes be alone in order to self-discover. Ariana has always been a role model to young women, and this song is just another example. The next six songs are responses to her relationship with Pete and her stress and anxiety from these past couple years. All of them continue thematically and also play with interesting audio idiosyncrasies. As the album comes to a close, the vibe becomes a little more upbeat and sassy (two things Ariana is very good at). “7 rings” pays homage to her best friends and her success. It’s a song to start your day with, for it emphasizes ambition and attitude. The penultimate song, “thank you, next,” is another empowering song that shows anyone that there is always something better out there for you. And if that doesn’t give you the confidence you want, “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored” will make you fearless.
This album is what many of us need. We get so caught up in the unfortunate events that plague our lives that we become too distracted to do what we truly love. Ariana has taught us that even when the worst happens, we can still persevere and use it to fuel ourselves. Whether it is our relationships or stress that get in the way, we must remember who we are. “thank u, next” has taught us so much: how to cope, find ourselves, and appreciate those around us. With a following of many young girls, Ariana Grande has created a bible for modern feminism. So, thank you “thank u, next.”