Ariana Grande has had a tumultuous year, to say the least. After a rough breakup, crippling loss and cancelled engagement, the artist has decided to focus on herself and heal. Her new album, “thank u, next,” is the embodiment of this idea.
The album features 12 tracks, all radio friendly, but still somehow authentic. Each song is an honest reflection of an attitude or struggle of Grande’s during her healing process, ranging from the raw heartache of “ghostin” to the boastful and lively “7 rings.” Every line is raw, it’s just overlaid on a beat that makes it sound contrived.
At first, I was convinced that every song on the album sounded the same, but on a second listen, I realized it wasn’t like that at all. The tracks just flow naturally into each other. Their order creates a storyline and paints a complete picture of what Grande is going through.
“thank u, next” begins with “imagine,” a song that explains exactly what could have been. Instead of being happy and in love, Grande is dealing with loss from all sides.
She sets up the track to put you in her shoes. Keeping it light and mellow until she rips the illusion away with “imagine a world like that,” Grande delivers the feeling of denial and shock that so often comes with grief.
From there, the tracks push and pull. Each song builds on the last and creates the momentum necessary to keep it going. Grande jumps from wanting attention on the mellow “needy” to immediately pushing everyone away in “NASA,” and delivers the same ping-pong of emotions throughout the rest of the album. She’s dealing with some serious internal conflict.
Of all of the songs on the album, “ghostin” is the most heartbreaking — and arguably the best. In this track, Grande seems to address how Mac Miller’s overdose affected her then relationship with Pete Davidson, a highly personal story. If you couldn’t tell before, this track proves just how raw and truthful this album is.
Finally, towards the end of the album, we get into the singles. “7 rings,” “thank u, next” and “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored” all deliver the self-confident, sultry energy that Ariana Grande is so well-known for, though they show less of the messy side of grief.
“7 rings” is the only song on the album I’m not a huge fan of, simply because it feels so much like it was written for the radio. The beat is the same one that everyone has been using in hip hop for years (some even compare it to “Pretty Boy Swag” by Soulja Boy) and the lyrics can essentially be summed up by saying “I’m rich and have friends.”
This album shows just what Ariana Grande has been going through, and in a genuine way. Each track varies in content but her authenticity carries through, making it more meaningful than something written for a vocalist and smacked on a stolen Soundcloud beat. “thank u, next” is both emotionally raw and a bop, something that few artists can accomplish.