Ariana Grande’s latest album thank, u next, is arguably her most anticipated creation to date. With Grande’s music videos surpassing 100 million views, the thank u, next, period seems like her most important era, with changes in sound, aesthetics and vision. This change in vibe hasn’t been smooth sailing for Ariana, the former Nickelodeon star, who has been questioned by fans and critics alike for several reasons that include cultural appropriation and queer-baiting. However, this hasn’t stopped the latest release being considered a success by mainstream audiences.
The first track ‘Imagine’ has a slower beat which is slightly reminiscent of her previous tune ‘Dangerous Woman’. The slower pace sets the tone for the album, with Ariana belting out the title of the song ‘Imagine’ like it is the prerequisite to a broadway production, acting as a kind of homage to Ariana’s theatrical background.
‘Needy’ provides a more soulful approach to the subject of romance and relationships. The track’s lyrics elude to Grande’s own self-evaluation of her past relationships with lines such as “I’m obsessive and love too hard”; it makes you wonder which one of her famous partners she could be discussing.
The following track ‘NASA’ allows a much needed emotional break for the listener. ‘NASA’ is about needing space from your S.O and can definitely be considered a self-love banger, with the takeaway message being about avoiding being “dragged under” by an intense relationship and pursuing “self-discovery”: something that is on brand for Grande these days.
A significantly more upbeat track, ‘bloodline’ emphasises the overall self-love message of the album. The reggae styled trumpet influence differentiates this tune from the other, lower key, computerised sounds that plagued the album and became overly repetitive.
‘bloodline’ emphasises the overall self-love message of the album.
One of the most talked about tracks for positive and negative reasons, ‘7 Rings’ has certainly created some of the biggest waves. On the track, which mirrors the Sound Of Music’s ‘My Favourite Things’, Grande argues a message of self-empowerment. However, lyrics which glamourise the glory of having a lot of wealth and being able to buy everything you want miss the message of true female empowerment. Notably, a lot of the fallout has been down to the song’s use of Japanese symbols in the video, with some claiming that the song is ignorant to their meaning to Japanese culture.
The following track ‘thank, u next’ needs no introduction and can still be considered the stand-out tune on the entire album. This is certainly one to listen to with your friends before a night out as a gentle reminder to say be grateful for the past.
The most recent controversial tune comes in the form of ‘break up with your girlfriend, I’m bored’, while the song seems relatively unremarkable and on a similar level to the other tracks on the album., Twitter users have been questioning the release of the video, with many citing it as ‘queer-baiting’ as opposed to another song to promote a message of self-love, as it depicts Grande stealing a boyfriend from a girl who looks remarkably like the singer.
Overall, this album shows Ariana going in another completely different direction, albeit one that has its ups and downs. However, if she continues to produce music at the pace she is currently, she will certify herself as an icon of the decade.