The young mega-star is back just five months after her most recent release and not a moment too soon. Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next” is so much more than outstanding. It is a necessary, critical album that will no doubt be cemented as a historical release in the music world.
No stranger to daring moves that shake up the music industry, Grande bounces back from her recent tragedies and breakups with this follow up to her love-sick album “Sweetener.” As many fans of Grande will profess, “Thank U, Next” expands on the singer’s career in the most fashionable way imaginable, bringing iconic tracks that exude style, emotion and attitude. Living up to the unimaginable hype before the album’s release, there is no shortage of incredible talent in every song, and very few faults can be found throughout the album.
Starting off the album with a familiar tune, “Imagine” is a fantastic opening, inviting the listener into the heart-broken yet triumphant realm that Grande slowly pieces together through each track. The lyrics are whimsical, displaying Grande’s raw persona as she imagines a world packed with fiery, unbound love. Ending the song with her signature high-pitched vocals, Grande shows that she is clearly not afraid to break all previous notions and expectations that fans and critics may have.
“Needy” continues the more soulful journey of the album. Akin to the tone that Grande sets up in “Sweetener,” this track oozes with obsessive love, as the title may imply. This tone is promptly shattered and replaced with an anthem of independence with “NASA” as the singer claims that she now desperately needs space from her lover simply because she’s a star. “Bloodline” continues this theme, throwing the listener into the true world of the album.
Blatantly expressing the overt themes of the album, “Fake Smile” delivers a relatable message of simply stating how one truly feels as opposed to relying on dishonest tactics of manufacturing emotions. With its incredibly smooth tone and infectious chorus, “Fake Smile” serves as a perfect mid-way point of the album. More than any song on the album, this song signifies Grande’s entire public persona, advocating self-care over appeasing others.
A personal favorite, “Bad Idea” is simply incredible, if not a bit repetitive and unneeded on the album. Definitely the least impactful of any song on “Thank U, Next,” “Bad Idea” does what it sets out to do: put listeners in an amped mood with an expertly crafted beat that extends one minute after the lyrics end.
“Make Up” presents an interesting beat that deserves to be heard for Grande’s fast rhythms and hearty lyrics, and “Ghostin” is hauntingly beautiful as the singer supposedly testifies about Mac Miller’s early death. Much like the central themes and message of “Fake Smile,” “In My Head” presents listeners with the notion of crafting a perfect image of someone without considering their faults, ultimately leading to a failing, toxic relationship. It is both beautiful and surprisingly hypnotic with its mix of hip-hop beats and soulful chorus.
The final stretch of the album is, quite bluntly, near-perfection. With her single “7 Rings” leading the final act, Grande thoroughly introduces this new era of her life as she celebrates her riches and absurd fame with six of her best friends. This song is a truly unique and distinct twist to Grande’s music, sparking a new sound in her library of songs and providing a fresh, almost satirical look into the hip-hop genre.
The actual track “Thank U, Next” will always be a fan favorite, almost overpowering every other song on the album, considering its cultural relevance and enormous impact on the pop genre. Needing no further description, it was a very smart move to save this song for the end, effectively pumping up the listener for Grande’s grand finale.
“Break Up with Your Boyfriend, I’m Bored” simply needs no words in explaining how iconic the song’s lyrics are. Matching the almost atrocious title, this song’s beats, rhythms, tones and messages combine and explode, creating a symphonic mess of raw, untethered talent. More than any song on the album, “Break Up with Your Boyfriend” displays the singer’s angelic transformation into a force to be reckoned with in this era of music.
photo courtesy Ariana Grande Wiki