The Italian-American, mega ponytailed popstar, Ariana Grande, took control of her story on Feb. 8, with her most recent album “thank u, next.” Multiple songs are already topping charts. The 12 track record is the 25-year-old’s fifth album and is consistent with the style of “Sweetener,” her previous album released in 2018. “Sweetener” earned Grande her first Grammy award for Best Pop Vocal Album earlier this month.
Since releasing “Sweetener,” which featured her hit track “God is a Woman,” Grande certainly came into her personal musical style and powerful voice. “thank u, next” is a testimony to Grande’s building musical prowess through contemplative personal assessment on previous romances and trauma while keeping her chin high looking towards her future. Her new album takes on new elements of sound, further develops her style and delivers both the possibility of a new Grande era and classic Grandesque tones.
The song “thank u, next” shows Grande’s ability to self assess and let go of past relationships — instead of ruminating on wrongs done and wish toxicity on her exes — a common theme in modern music. Instead, Grande focuses on the three things they taught her; love, patience and pain, leaving listeners to wonder which of her high profile lovers these lessons came with.
Grande also focuses on bathing in her riches on “7 Rings” which is number one on Billboard’s top 100 list for the third week in a row. Such a narrative is not something the average listener can relate to, but nevertheless she appears to have caught the ear of her fans once again.
Not everyone loves Grande’s “7 Rings” as Nokia Princess and Soulja Boy both accused Grande of plagiarizing their work and style transforming it in her own work.
Several songs on the album feature audio clips from various people in Grande’s life, a practice used to give additional meaning or background information to the song.
In NASA the audio clip states “one small step for women, one giant leap for womankind” as she narrates the empowerment of being alone, particularly because of societal expectations for women. “Bloodline” also features an audio clip, as does “In My Head.”
She asserts herself as powerful, while reserving her right to set personal boundaries in an industry that is constantly pushing back. However, not all of the songs on her new album are feminine pop-power anthems like “thank u, next,” “7 Rings” or “NASA.”
Some songs take a slower more melancholy tone like “Ghostin,” “In My Head” and “Fake Smile” where Grande highlights the pain of pretending to be okay, losing “the one,” and crying over over her ex even though she is with her new lover.
Grande also eloquently admits that sometimes she needs too much in her song “Needy,” saying “I can be needy/Way too damn needy/Tell me how good it feels to be needed,” and yet she is okay with that.
At the end of the album Grande takes on a darker tone, both musically and lyrically in the song “Break Up with Your Boyfriend, I’m Bored.” She talks about the temptation of coupled lovers, jealousy and overall — jealousy. The song reaffirms that though Grande has shown a gentler side, she is still a dangerous woman.
This particular song has drawn criticism from music video viewers where Grande can be seeing kissing the woman at the end of the video. Criticism stemmed from the apparent use of bisexuality as a way to garner views — unless, of course — Grande is in fact not straight.
Megan Holmen is the assistant news editor for the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @megan_holmen.