thank u next: Ariana’s all grown up

Ariana Grande’s fifth studio album thank u, next was released on 8 February this year, just in time for Valentine’s Day. But some of her upbeat songs have sad undertones: tracks like ghostin’, imagine, in my head, bloodline and fake smile all share the realities of post-breakup anxiety and the thoughts about a future that could have been.

Grande’s style on this album is very bass heavy with alternative beats and is infused with sad songs throughout. It is these songs that are the most interesting because they take a few listens for you to hear past the airy bass heavy music to get to the core lyrics.

This album isn’t all sad songs though. Grande’s major singles this year have been thank u, next and 7 rings. thank u, next is a song that is sure of its target audience. I knew when I watched the music video that she was appealing to young women in their late teens and early twenties because of the references to classic chick flicks such as Mean Girls, Bring It On, 13 Going on 30 and Legally Blonde. It was a nice touch to include Kris Jenner as Mrs George, and original cast members such as Stefanie Drummond from Mean Girls and Jennifer Coolidge from Legally Blonde.

7 rings continues with the pop culture references by riffing off My Favourite Things from The Sound of Music. The backstory to this song rests on Grande and her friends buying rings at Tiffany & Co. after a hard day in New York. It is hard to know whether or not to take this song at face value or to read into it a message about the flaws of consumerism.

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Gabriela Williams

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October 2021
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