"thank u, next" – Ariana Grande Does It Again

Ariana Grande’s much anticipated album, thank u, next, has been out for just one day and it’s already #1 on the charts. This comes as no surprise as the singer has been taking over the internet and the industry lately. Riding the wave of success following her fourth studio album, Sweetner, she released “thank, u next,” “7 rings,” and “imagine” as promotional singles and a video for “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored” came out with the album. This album succeeded because of her superstar status, social media presence, and promotional strategies, but this album is a landmark album that would’ve done well even without those tools.

This album is some of Grande’s best work because it’s honest. She bears some of her biggest flaws in “needy” and “in my head,” celebrates her success in “7 rings,” and nods to her past loves, not only in “thank u, next,” but also in “ghostin” and “imagine.” There are underlying themes of sadness, independence, guilt, and nostalgia as Grande created this album in the wake of her very public and very messy split with Pete Davidson and the tragedy that was Mac Miller’s passing by overdose. She’s admitted that, at this time, she needs to look inward for strength, and she’s said that this music has helped her heal.

Like the themes of the album are cohesive, yet diverse, so is the production of the album. Where Sweetner (produced by Pharell Williams) felt sporadic at times, thank u, next has all the elements of a good pop album because much of this album was produced by Max Martin, who has a hand in some of the biggest songs in pop music (think “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys, Oops! … I Did It Again” by Britney Spears, “The One That Got Away” by Katy Perry, “I Knew You Were Trouble” by Taylor Swift, as well as “no tears left to cry” and “god is a woman” from Sweetner). Rolling beats and layered background vocals are defining features on thank u, next, but there are also playful and strategic additions to individual songs to make them stand out.

One of these additions shows up in “bloodline,” which features sassy horns emphasizing the chorus while Grande sings about “just want[ing] to have a good time.” Meanwhile, on “ghostin” the instrumental is hazy and dreamlike as she sings about being in a relationship when she’s not over a past love. Fans speculate that this song is about her relationship with Pete Davidson following the death of Mac Miller after Grande revealed on Twitter that “ghostin” was the hardest song on the album for her to write.

Top to bottom, this album is full of songs that are extremely well done; songs to turn the volume up and put the windows down to, songs to play on a rainy day, and songs to get ready for a night out to. thank u, next has something for everyone, and for Ariana Grande it provided a place to heal and a place to grow.