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Ariana Grande’s “Thank U, Next” Reviewed

Six months ago, Arianators had only three albums in their favorite’s discography. Today, they have five. After an unprecedented double release for an artist of that magnitude, Ariana Grande is at her peak. She has been slowly and steadily moving towards this moment. This slow ascent has helped the 25 year-old singer collect many achievements on the charts, a legacy that prepared her for her latest studio album, Thank U Next.

Grande’s fifth album comes after the intense success of her last five singles. Her last two have both debuted atop the Billboard Hot 100. Only two other women have checked that achievement off their bucket list: Mariah Carey and Britney Spears. Interestingly, Thank U Next is reminiscent of both of those legendary pop stars. Grande’s vocals are reminiscent of those of the Elusive Chanteuse, and the production style on the album takes a page from one of the most iconic pop albums of all time, Britney Spears’s Blackout.

Ariana Grande has “cracked the code”

With a combination like that, Ariana Grande cracked the code. Ariana changed the title of her third album, Dangerous Woman from Moonlight, a track on that album in hopes to depart from her “cute” persona she’d presented in the past. From that point on, the R&B-influenced young star began an upwards momentum to becoming a main pop girl. The unfortunate and tragic Manchester incident changed Ariana’s life and gave us the beautiful tribute “No Tears Left to Cry,” but Ari was still confused.

Sweetener failed to tie its tracks together, and we heard two artists, one of whom was Pharrell. However, that album was an important stepping stone towards Thank U Next. Sweetener redefined Grande as a risk-taking “no-f*cks-given” kind of girl. The album gave us massive hits and beautiful visuals, but it’s a new era already. Thank U Next provides the “spice” that Sweetener lacked.

Weirdly autobiographical bops

Still sweet, Grande’s fifth studio album is bluntly and unapologetically honest. The album includes an element of Ariana’s personality we knew about but have never seen or heard before. The “cute, but will f*ck you up” energy on Thank U Next is real. Having gone through every dark path pop stardom could send a woman on, Ariana Grande is fed up. She’s letting us all know on tracks like “Fake Smile” and “Bad Idea.” The former is an autobiographical take on her daily life as a pop star from the perspective of Ariana, the girl. The latter is a manic withdrawal from it all, sung over an EDM beat with an R&B twist. “Forget about it, forget about him, forget about me,” Ariana sings on the booty call song, and the standout track of the album.

Music Mirroring Real Life

Some of Ariana’s personal dramas came to light over the past six months. Grande discusses those on the title track and in other songs like “Needy” and “Bloodline,” a song that is a guaranteed smash hit, and the one with the most commercial potential. Meanwhile, on “Ghostin,” Ari references her late ex boyfriend Mac Miller, both lyrically and by sampling his track “2009.” Possibly Ariana’s best ballad to date, “Ghostin” digs deep and delivers on all fronts. “Ghostin’” is so honest, it is almost uncomfortable to listen to. Ariana herself admitted to fans and to radio host Zach Sang being unable to listen to or perform the song.

Thank U Next delivered. Really, it busted the door open and gave the gays what they wanted. The album, in simple gay lingo, goes off. Ariana Grande presents a diverse set of songs, linked in terms of story and sound and are all easy to listen to, without any jumps or skips. The album is a cohesive experience and Ariana’s best representation of herself to date.

Written by A.J.

Your (just above) average queer writer, dismantling dictatorship and saving lives. We share a world but let’s share more. Twitter @SoWhatBlowMe

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