Grammy award-winning artist Ariana Grande hasn’t been shy when discussing her emotions regarding events in her life. This rang especially true with her two most recent albums, Sweetener (2018) and thank u, next (2019). However, there’s one song from one of these albums that fans and herself love, but are still unsure of whether or not it should’ve been released.
Radio hits such as “thank u next,” “7 rings” and “Dangerous Woman” have become iconic songs from Grande’s discography, but “ghostin” from thank u next, has been relatively overlooked, despite the emotional depth in its lyrics as well as its incredible musicality. “ghostin” is the album’s eighth and longest-running track, despite it being virtually unfinished. In a 2019 interview with Zach Sang on the Zach Sang Show, Grande said that after starting the writing process and leaving it unfinished for a few weeks, her friend and co-writer Victoria Monét came back to the song and said “I don’t even think we finished. It was just two verses and then strings.” Grande and Monét both agreed that “ghostin” was the hardest song to write, and the writing process “sucked.” This may come as a shock, but once you listen carefully to the lyrics, it’s completely understandable why the songwriting process didn’t come easy for Grande and Monét, as well as the other songwriters — Tayla Parx, Savan Kotecha, ILYA and Max Martin.
Although Grande has never confirmed who the song is about, fans and critics agree that the song is most likely about how the tragic passing of her ex, rapper Mac Miller, affected her, as well as her relationship with comedian Pete Davidson. The album thank u, next came a mere six months after her fourth studio album Sweetener, but during those six months, Grande went through a lot. Not long after the release of Sweetener, Miller tragically passed away from an overdose, and shortly after that, Grande and Davidson broke off their whirlwind engagement. Needless to say, Grande had a lot of emotions to draw from to write thank u, next, and she did just that with “ghostin.” With lyrics such as “Though I wish he were here instead, don’t want that living in your head,” and “I know that it breaks your heart when I cry again, over him,” Grande perfectly captures the heartbreak of wanting to be with someone who is gone, while also seemingly betraying the person that you currently love.
Despite the significance and emotional complexity of “ghostin,” Grande didn’t want to release the song. Surprising, right? In the interview with Zach Sang, Grande said “It’s a lot. It’s too much. I was literally begging Scooter [Braun] to take it off.” This interview sparked a debate within the Ariana Grande fandom. Was Scooter Braun — Grande’s manager — wrong to convince Grande to release “ghostin” despite her reluctance and emotional connection to the lyrics?
Personally, I think a little more consideration could’ve been taken about Grande’s feelings toward releasing the song. Of course, a manager should push their artist into releasing the best music, but that can become a problem when the music may be particularly emotional. With the song being released only five months after Miller’s death and Grande and Davidson’s breakup, the feelings were undoubtedly still fresh. Not to mention, Grande has said that she can’t listen to “ghostin” because it’s too emotional for her and has refrained from performing the song anywhere for the same reason.
Is it fair to say that Braun should’ve let Grande save the song for herself, instead of sharing it with the world? Some fans think so, and I agree. Now, that isn’t to say that I’m unhappy the song is on the album. “ghostin” is a beautiful record that can be very therapeutic to those grieving a loved one or a relationship, and objectively, it’s one of Grande’s best songs. But I think we should prioritize the artist’s own feelings over the fans’ reaction to a song, as well as profit.