Ariana Grande deserves gratitude for her new album, ‘Thank U, Next’

Angela Ma, A&E Editor

American singer, songwriter and actress Ariana Grande released her fifth studio album, Thank U, Next, on Feb. 8 through Republic Records. From Grande’s first musical appearance on the soundtrack for Victorious in 2011 to Thank U, Next, fans were taken on a rocky journey of Grande’s maturity and progression. In Thank U, Next, Grande expresses her own view on love and hardships. Presented in the form of ballads, the album reveals Grande’s recovery from loss and newfound confidence.   

Compared with previous albums, Grande connects with fans on a more personal level through Thank U, Next, which was created in the midst of heartbreak and harsh realities. Throughout the album, Grande portrays unreliable relationships as childish yet foolishly complex.

The first single from the album was titled “Thank U, Next” and was immediately met with record-breaking popularity upon its release. The highly anticipated music video captured the essence of teen rom-com and displayed the films’ noteworthy storylines. However, despite the commendable music video, other aspects of the song are comparatively mediocre. “Thank U, Next” consists of flat vocals and a uniform melody. Additionally, the lyrics are directly addressed to Grande’s ex-boyfriends, failing to deliver a deeper message and resorting instead to a repetitive structure: “One taught me love / One taught me patience / And one taught me pain / Now, I’m so amazing / I’ve loved and I’ve lost.”

“Imagine” and “Needy” feature Grande’s wide vocal range and a penetrating backtrack. Grande’s impressive falsetto makes up for the unvaried lyrics about her insecurities. “NASA” has a similar theme and is an upbeat song. Grande makes multiple references to space by using puns that connect her own celebrity life to the emptiness of space: “Give you the whole world, I’ma need space / I’ma need space, I’ma, I’ma need space / You know I’m a star.”

“Bloodline,” “Fake Smile,” “Bad Idea,” and “Make Up” have straightforward lyrics and incorporate fast beats, rhythmic backtracks, and autotuned hooks.

“Ghostin” and “In My Head” establish a new mood for the album with the echoing melodies and Grande’s resonating vocals. In “Ghostin,” Grande goes through a process of self-reflection and confronts her former apprehensions: “You been so understanding, you been so good / And I’m puttin’ you through more than one ever should / And I’m hating myself ‘cause you don’t want to / Admit that it hurts you.”

Thank U, Next is a major breakthrough for Grande with its mature content and varied music styles. With this pop album, Grande aspires to share a personal story through music. Although it may be criticized for the lack of depth, Thank U, Next promotes self-awareness and is a female-empowering album that sets the stage for Grande’s future musical career.