Ariana Grande’s thank u, next has smashed records across the board, surpassing 100 million hits on Spotify in 11 days and debuting at number one on Billboard’s Hot 100. Incidentally, it is also Grande’s first number one ever.
Commercially, this song is genius. Grande dropped it right before that week’s Saturday Night Live aired, where her ex fiancé, Pete Davidson, is a cast member. This was also after Davidson made a joke about their break-up on the promo. Grande drummed up publicity with the (now deleted) tweet, “for someone who hates relevancy u sure love to cling to it huh”.
Furthermore, the first verse of the song name drops a number of her high profile exes, such as Big Sean, Ricky Alvarez, the aforementioned Pete Davidson and the late Mac Miller, who overdosed earlier this year. Grande managed to skyrocket to take the top spot by appealing to tabloid headlines.
Technically, the song has a 1990’s RnB throwback feel to it, similar to Janet Jackson, as well as the style of her latest album, Sweetener. Grande’s voice remains soft and airy throughout the entire song and she refrains from powerful belts – which was almost a staple in previous albums. The song is remarkably polished for a single that was released so quickly after her album and break up. Although, that isn’t a surprise, produced partly by producer veteran Tommy Brown and Grande’s own friends, Tayla Parx and Victoria Monét McCants, it would be a shock if this song was not a hit.
The message of the song has also explained its popularity. The words, “thank you, next” in relation to past relationships sounds cold and unfeeling, but the song is the complete opposite of that. Grande is genuinely thanking her exes for helping her grow and prosper into the person she is today, there’s no negativity or bitterness within the song despite its subject matter.
Grande’s mindset is fresh and perhaps something that we can all take heed of. The emotional maturity and gravitas she holds in the song is inspiring and encouraging. Considering that a lot of her audience is a younger demographic, Grande’s words could leave a remarkable impression and for the better.
But it’s not just the teenagers that can learn a lesson from this song. How many times have we heard someone or even ourselves refer to their ex as “crazy” or “psycho”?. This song encourages people to stop and reflect on past relationships and what they have learnt. No matter how messy the break up, no matter how many drunken phone-calls occurred in the small hours of the morning, or even, no matter how many times one had to resort to the block button – we have all learnt something from past relationships and they have moulded us into the person we are today.
Ariana Grande’s thank u, next brings something new to pop culture. It celebrates growth as well as self love, and how it is achieved by hardships and triumphs in our lives. The lyrics “One taught me love / One taught me patience / And one taught me pain / Now I’m so amazing” can resonate with almost everyone as they look back at their own lives. In summary, thank u, next not only preaches to be kind to your exes, or people you no longer talk to for whatever reason, but also to appreciate life’s challenges in general. They are what made you the person you are today.
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