Review: Ariana Grande – thank u, next

Categories:  Music    Opinions
Wednesday, February 13th, 2019 at 7:00 PM
Review: Ariana Grande – thank u, next by Natalie Wiepert

★★★★☆

Less than six months after dropping Grammy award winner, “Sweetener,” Ariana Grande has released her most cohesive and well-produced record to date. Inspired by her failed engagement and the sudden death of Mac Miller, “thank u, next” is already set to debut at number one the Billboard 200 chart. It also broke an Apple Music record as the “biggest day one global for a female artist,” despite the album not being available on Apple until nearly an hour after its official debut.

While “Dangerous Woman” relied on heavy guitar riffs, and “Sweetener” made use of experimental beats — the standout aspect of “thank, u next” is the orchestra swells weaved throughout. Unlike her previous work, Grande chose to utilize unique soundbites and samples instead of big-name collaborations. This falls in line with the albums overall theme that she is okay with being on her own and can do it well. She still credits her friends for its success, whom she wrote the album with.

Grande found her true sound on the ambitious Pharrell-produced “Sweetener,” which took on her struggle with mental health and keeping life positive. It’s hard to say if her new release is the better album, but it is by far the most consistent and honest. There are no cheap Nicki Minaj features for flare, just a story about lost love and relationships, where her vocal range can really shine through on its own.

She lays out all her insecurities and perceived flaws on “needy,” a song about feeling like you may be a little too much for others to handle.

A favorite among rap artists, Grande samples Wendy Rene’s “After Laughter (Comes Tears)” on “fake smile.” It’s fitting for a song about trying to find out who you are and how to navigate life in a world where there isn’t any privacy.

“ghostin” is arguably the best track not only because of the arrangement, but it is also revealing and honest. “in my head” is another more emotional song about being in love with a version of someone you created in your mind. I’m a big fan of the sassy, bop music, but I still would’ve liked to hear more of the emotional side that was displayed in these tracks.

Grande switches gears with “7 rings,” where she lavishes in her riches over a trap beat and the tune of “My Favorite Things” from “Sound of Music.” It has already peaked at being number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for three weeks. The song is catchy for sure, but speculation that she copied Princess Nokia’s “Mine” does taint the appeal. The pink trap house music video is still second to none, though.

The title track, “thank u, next” is one of the weaker songs musically, but pretty iconic lyrically, largely due to the fact that her exes are all named directly and it’s a shockingly positive take on moving on from a past love. It’s a nice message, but I’d be fine never having to hear this song on the radio again.

“break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored” is definitely a mood, although to be honest, not as dramatic as anticipated. Some people on Twitter are mad about this one because of its “boyfriend stealing” message, but Grande revealed on the Zach Sang Show that it shouldn’t be taken too seriously and is meant to be funny. So, those who have speculated the song is about Big Sean are probably just reaching.

This album more accurately represents the reality of relationships, rather than painting a dream-like depiction of flawless love, heard on “Sweetener.” Overall, “thank u, next” is a well-produced pop record that embraces the flaws that come with being human to create Grande’s most unapologetically honest project yet.

Standout tracks: "fake smile," "in my head" and "ghostin."

Stream the album below: 

Natalie Wiepert | edinboro.wfse@gmail.com
Twitter: @WiepertFever

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