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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Toronto MU chapter.

Ariana Grande’s most recent album, eternal sunshine, was released on March 8, 2024, four years after her last studio album, positions. So much has changed within this time for the artist — vocally, stylistically, and lyrically.

eternal sunshine is arguably one of the most vulnerable and emotional albums by Grande as it explores themes of breakups and finding new love while following the emotional rollercoaster of this journey.

Already, four songs from the album have charted on the Billboard Top 100. It’s safe to say that this album is what fans have been waiting for.  

Public Reactions and Reviews 

As a comeback album, many had high expectations surrounding the release of eternal sunshine. Considering she has been so focused on her lead role in the upcoming movie Wicked and her beauty line r.e.m. beauty, some fans were worried she might never return. However, Grande took to Instagram in December to tease that new music was coming. She then released her single “yes, and?” in January and followed up with her official album announcement

Questions of how the album would compare to Grande’s previous works spiralled as she signed with a new management team in December 2023. In addition, there was a lot of talk surrounding her personal and romantic relationships before “yes, and?” was released, so speculation arose about whether she would address it. 

However, when the album was released, critiques of the artist were quickly wiped away as eternal sunshine touched on the internal dialogue one may go through in a relationship. Pitchfork, a music news and review source, looked at Grande’s newest album and described it as “a slightly scattered, but emotionally generous collection of music that cycles compassionately through the collapse of one relationship and into the hopeful beginning of another.” 

In a piece for Elle, editors Erica Gonzales and Samuel Maude dissected the new album and discussed in depth the genre experimentation Grande does. Specifically, Maude shared, “There are some really fascinating musical moments in this album. I think she has her R&B elements, she has pop elements, but she also has some, dare I say, musical theatre elements. Of course, she’s in Wicked world, so that makes sense for where she is in her career.”

The idea of musical theatre influencing the album continues as Maude said, “I think it’s for sure affected the visuals. Honestly, without Wicked, we don’t have this album for a myriad of reasons.”

Many fans were stunned by the album upon first listening. TikTok user @alejandrosilvva recorded their reaction to every song, and it’s safe to say that it was very well received. 

After listening to the album’s single “yes, and?” many expected the energy throughout the album to be similar — very dance and house sounding. But as TikTok user @pierreelhagee demonstrates, the single was the outlier, and the rest of the collection is an emotional rollercoaster we could not prepare for. 

The Lyrics  

What stands out most about eternal sunshine is its lyricism. Grande has always played a significant role in the songwriting process throughout her career, but it’s obvious she took the lead for this album as she communicates feelings and ideas that are so close to her life. @oasisraindrops on X, formerly known as Twitter, outlines the storyline of the album and how it is cohesive in telling a story from beginning to end. 

In the first track, “intro (end of the world),” Grande opens the album with three questions: “How can I tell if I’m in the right relationship? / Aren’t you really supposed to know that sh*t? / Feel it in your bones and own that sh*t?”

By opening eternal sunshine with these lyrics, she sets listeners up to understand that sometimes, even when you are so sure about the relationship you are in, things can change. 

In “we can’t be friends (wait for your love),” the lines “I don’t wanna tiptoe, but I don’t wanna hide / But I don’t wanna feed this monstrous fire / Just wanna let this story die” stand out.

This song is about finally letting someone go, even if you cannot fully do so. These lines, in particular, highlight the feelings of finding closure internally, allowing yourself to close a chapter, and begin the healing process. 

“bye” is the second song on eternal sunshine, and at first listen, it sounds like a feel-good anthem, but it’s so much more than that. The opening line is “This ain’t the first time I’ve been hostage to these tears / I can’t believe I’m finally movin’ through my fears / At least, I know how hard we tried, both you and me / Didn’t we? Didn’t we?”

These first few lines of the track touch on reliving heartbreak and realizing that it will get better. Specifically, when Grande sings, “At least I know how hard we tried, both you and me,” she acknowledges how things have run their course and that both people involved in the breakup put their everything into the relationship. 

The album’s title track, “eternal sunshine,” is a beautiful song with all its details perfectly fitting together. Not only does it come with a catchy chorus, but when Grande sings, “I showed you all my demons, all my lies / Yet you played me like Atari / Now it’s like I’m lookin’ in the mirror / Hope you feel alright when you’re in her,” reactions online went crazy.

As a whole, the chorus is meant to address how even if you show every part of yourself in a relationship, you can still be played. In one line, she mentions Atari, a video game console company, and in the background, during this, the sound of the console turning on plays; it’s the little details that make us listen to this song on repeat. 

In an interview for Apple Music with Grande, Zane Lowe points out that the first line of the album (mentioned above) asks a question and the last line in the final track, “ordinary things,” closes with Grande’s grandmother saying, “Never go to bed without kissin’ goodnight / That’s the worst thing to do, don’t ever, ever do that / And if you can’t, and if you don’t feel comfortable doing it / You’re in the wrong place, get out.”

@zanelowe

Really great new conversation with Ariana has just been released to celebrate her new album. Watch it on YouTube and Apple Music #eternalsunshine #arianagrande #fyp

♬ days go by – Antent & my head is empty

These closing lines are a reminder to never forget about the little things and that you should feel able to resolve issues before going to sleep at night. As this song and these words close the album, they best encompass the story and message Grande hopes to get through to listeners: that you shouldn’t hold onto something just because it’s comfortable and it’s okay for things to end. You don’t necessarily have to hate the person you’re walking away from. 

Overall, eternal sunshine was worth the four-year wait. Ariana Grande proves once again that she isn’t only an amazing vocalist but a master with her lyrics. She has this strong ability to continually pull at our emotions and communicate feelings we don’t even realize we have, all while doing so in an artistic way. Though her name was pulled through the mud over the past year, she shows her ability to rise above and do what she does best. 

Jillian Gonzales

Toronto MU '25

Jillian Gonzales is a third year Creative Industries student at Toronto Metropolitan University. She was born and raised in Toronto and loves the city. Her interests include music, tv and film, and sports. Jillian also loves to shop and cannot survive without her coffee. You can find her on Instagram @jillian.jg