“thank u, next”: You want it? I got it

2018 was one huge rollercoaster for singer Ariana Grande. From recovering from the 2017 Manchester bombing, her broken engagement with comedian Pete Davidson and the death of ex-boyfriend rapper Mac Miller, we’ve been able to follow Ariana’s life through every high and low. Specifically, we were able to get an insight into Ariana’s emotional state with the release of her fifth studio album, “thank u, next.”

I immediately vibed with the second track, “needy,” within the first couple of seconds. After the first verse and chorus, I felt like the lyrics were actually calling me out—was Ariana reading my diary? The lyrics about needing someone so much but not being needed by them at all created a hollow mood, much like the hollow sound of the same repeated four chords. Just as the lyrics of this song reflect this heartbreaking emotion, “needy” might just be one of Ariana’s most vulnerable pieces and definitely my favorite from this album.

In contrast to the more chill, melancholic tune of “needy,” the next two songs are more upbeat and lively: Ariana’s single life has been prolific for her music. Similar to the concept of “thank u, next,” “NASA” and “bloodline” are both catchy songs emphasizing being better off alone without a toxic relationship. Though the songs’ beats aren’t necessarily the most creative, and the lyrics may not be the most profound, the message about self-empowerment within a relationship overshadows this.

The next songs, “bad idea,” “make up” and “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored” are simply party songs that are good to jam out in the car to. I have to make up too many assumptions to try to piece the repetitive surface-level words together and form a coherent meaning of itthis isn’t English class, so that would be a bad idea. Nonetheless, the cool ding sound in “make up” put me in a hype mood, reminding me of the sounds of carnival games. Oh, and “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored,” will remain a bop until the day I leave this earth.

Switching back into a more somber mood, Ariana really hit us hard with “ghostin.” When asked about the meaning of this track, Ariana tweeted

I, along with other fans, have speculated this song to be about Mac and how she felt bad for Pete for having to see her in the emotional state after Mac’s death. The way that Ariana sings with such sincerity and grief gives away the pain she feels in addition to the deep and meaningful words.

Now, what really surprised me with this new album was the fact that there were zero features; almost all of the songs in her first three albums included a feature from artists like Big Sean, Nicki Minaj, The Weeknd and more. While this absence was shocking, I definitely respected this decision, as “thank u, next” was meant to be a more personal album. Having artists who were not part of Ariana’s difficult experiences infringing upon these songs would make the lyrics and emotions feel ingenuine and impersonal.

Though this album definitely felt the most intimate, “thank u, next” will never beat the original wonders of her first two albums. Yet, this new release exceeded my expectations and allowed me to feel a deeper connection with Ariana. While Ariana’s music may not be everyone’s cup of tea, she is an extremely talented artist who is not afraid to dabble in different genres of music and pull it off with such authentic emotions. No wonder her former co-star Victoria Justice is seething with jealousy. I think we’re ALL seething with jealousy.

The Parkway West Pathfinder gives “thank u, next” an 8.5/10.