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

On Mar. 8, 2024, pop artist Ariana Grande released her new album eternal sunshine after being on hiatus for almost four years since the release of her last album positions in October of 2020. Despite laying low during that time, a few controversies came about before the release of the album which shifted public opinion about her. The main controversy emerged when Grande’s single “yes, and?” was released, resurfacing rumors about the start of her current relationship with Ethan Slater. Many online have been criticizing Grande for being a “homewrecker” in Slater’s previous marriage with Lily Jay. The drama surrounding the allegations resulted in a loss of 350,000 followers on Grande’s Instagram. In turn, people expected the album to address this controversy to some extent, which may be true as listeners believe the song “the boy is mine” was written for Slater. However, the single was a sneak peek into the overarching themes of eternal sunshine, which seem to be navigating the complexities of love and change as well as living for yourself rather than others. Personally, I wouldn’t consider myself the ultimate Ariana Grande fan, but her music has taken an interesting turn since her album Sweetener and keeping this in mind, I’ve been intrigued with how her newest album would sound. With that said, here is my personal review of the new album eternal sunshine

The very first song, titled “intro (end of the world),” definitely sounded sweet and sentimental, which is very typical of Grande. This is a style that I particularly enjoy, especially since she likes to use orchestra as a part of her instrumentals. The sound itself wasn’t surprising, and it had a similar vibe to “raindrops (an angel cried),” the first song on the Sweetener album. I was surprised by what comes next, which is “bye.” It was very upbeat and catchy, but it was still a new sound compared to previous albums. The key change reminded me of the sound of her album positions, which is also present in the next song “don’t wanna break up again.” It didn’t seem like Ariana was deviating from herself in any way, but she was still trying new beats and instrumentals. This style suits her more than I thought, and it’s easy to jam along to. “Saturn Returns Interlude” surprised me with the glitchy audio and the monologue (similar to “ghostin” from Thank U, Next), but it was a great transition into “eternal sunshine,” the title track of the album. I really like when Grande incorporates interesting elements into her music because it creates a bigger narrative that listeners can experience outside of the lyrics. I previously heard about the lyrics of this song, particularly “hope you feel alright/when you’re in her” which did seem to be a lot bolder than she has been in the past.  

The next song, “supernatural,” was a new sound from Grande, including softer drum beats and a more digital sound with a hint of synth elements. Speaking of new sounds, I heard that this album would feature an homage to the ‘90s RnB vibe and this can be heard in the song “true story.” Personally, I’m not sure if this beat and vibe suited her voice and her artistry very much, and I think it would be more suited for someone with a mature voice who can match the RnB instrumentals in this song. However, I’m not entirely opposed to Grande experimenting further with RnB as she thrives in songs that are spinoffs of old 90s songs, such as “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored.”  

The next song “the boy is mine” is said to be the sequel to her viral leaked song “fantasize” which I think was brought to justice. I really like the vocals and the bass on this one, and it feels like a new style that I can see her thriving in as an artist. Grande expressed her anger towards those who leaked the song in an interview on The Zach Sang Show, calling them “Thieves! Crooks! Pirates!” and adding “I’ll see you in jail, literally.” The production paid off with bass and instrumentals that complement her voice, which I can say for most of the songs heard so far. 

More than halfway through the album, I got to the song “yes, and?” Many believe that the song sounds like Madonna’s “Vogue” since it features “snappy synth drums; bright, syncopated stabs of piano,” though, personally, I didn’t hear the resemblance. I think the message of living on despite what others are saying is very empowering, and considering her personal situation, it spoke to celebrities’ right to privacy. The lyrics that set the internet off in particular were “why do you/care so much whose dick I/ride?” which in my opinion is kind of funny. In all honesty, I read the entire song as a means of snapping back at those who have always doubted her, and it is really empowering, but I understand the flip side of things as well. The context for this is that the dating rumors about Ariana Grande and Ethan Slater surfaced only three days after she divorced her previous husband, Dalton Gomez (though this was debunked when it was confirmed that they had been separated for months before said divorce). Slater was also previously married and had a son with Lily James, who described Grande as “not a girl’s girl,” causing people to speculate that Grande was the reason for their divorce. Because of this, others perceived Grande’s attitude as careless and inconsiderate, even though that’s the point of the song.  

Moving on, the next song called “we can’t be friends (wait for your love)” describes how two people can’t be friends after being in a relationship despite all hopes to continue. The music video portrayed a story of Grande going to a center to get memories of a person removed, and navigating those good memories as they are slowly erased from her mind, which was really sad to watch. It was also interesting to find out that the concept was based on one of Grande’s favorite movies Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind where the story follows her as she undergoes a procedure to remove unwanted memories. Grande herself has been a longtime fan of the film’s main star, Jim Carrey, and as the album’s main source of inspiration she regards in an interview, “I think it kind of fell into place that these songs had little tidbits of that theme. I just felt really inspired by it.” I find that the narrative inspiration really carried the entire album, and it’s definitely one of the reasons why it makes a strong comeback. The instrumentals gave off an arcade or old video game vibe, which was new but unique as it suited her vocals well. The space theme continued with “i wish i hated you,” giving off a similar whimsical yet reflective vibe that reminded me of “Saturn” by SZA.  

The next song, “imperfect for you,” is a sound I never expected from Grande, especially the beat. The main chorus was somewhat reminiscent of Melanie Martinez’s music, but I’m not quite the biggest fan of it. Thematically, it was evident that the album is reaching its close, and so far, it seemed that this is the most vulnerable Grande has been in her songs, again another element that I appreciate as a listener. The lyrics to the last song “ordinary things” seemed so similar to “imagine” from the Thank U, Next album. Though I didn’t think this album would serve as an homage to her previous work, it was comforting to hear that some things never change, especially the little monologues (this time it’s from her grandma Nonna!).  

Overall, the album is solid as a comeback, and I really enjoyed listening to it. My personal favorites were “yes, and?,”we can’t be friends (wait for your love),”supernatural,” “i wish i hated you,” and “the boy is mine.” I think Ariana Grande has definitely found her unique sound now, and it’s really cool to see her experiment with other genres in the same way that she did with her last album, positions. Though I’m not someone who bases my entire evaluation of a song on its lyrics, this album has some really notable lines that allow me, as a listener, into Grande’s inner world. I definitely caught on to a space motif through the instrumentals in some of her songs and of course “Saturn Returns Interlude,” which could have been either a callback or a sequel to the song “NASA” from Thank U, Next. But either way, eternal sunshine was an amazing comeback with new sounds and fun songs, and I can’t wait to see more of what Ariana Grande has in store! 

Neha Mitra


Neha is a Writer and Marketing Graphic Designer at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg chapter. She loves writing about design topics, film, and literature. She is studying Graphic Arts at the University of South Florida and in the future, she plans to work in UI/UX design while writing fictional stories and potential screenplay for films. In their free time, they love to write fictional stories, watch intriguing films, and create artworks for others or for herself. They will always find the time to talk about the nuances of books and film, as well as their preferences in design and art!