Just 6 months since releasing perhaps the most highly anticipated album of 2018, Ariana Grande has released perhaps the most highly anticipated album of 2019.
Unlike any of her previous albums, “thank u, next” exists in a world miles away from “Sweetener” and even further away from “Dangerous Woman”. Whilst those albums were grounded in reality, Ariana’s new reality is one where she’s gone through a public break-up, her former boyfriend has died… and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
As a result, she has produced an album true to who she is right now. The style takes inspiration from the dominance of hip-hop and R&B music, whilst leaving room for her to flex her infamously impressive vocal ability. There are few artists in history, no less in our time, who have been able so perfectly balance R&B and hip-hop with pop with vocal riffs and end up with a collection of no-less than 12 perfect songs.
There are few artists in history who have been able so perfectly balance R&B and hip-hop with pop with vocal riffs and end up with a collection of no-less than 12 perfect songs.
So, Ariana Grande goes through living hell multiple times. She’s an artist – she copes with it by going to the studio and making new music. And then, despite having just released an album and announcing the accompanying tour, she does “what the boys do” (her words) and starts releasing more music. Now, THAT’S what being a modern artist is all about.
Truthfully, any of the songs could be singles, although there is something about ‘thank u, next’ and ‘7 rings’ which separate themselves from the rest. They are in a very unique category of song which is simply marked “Global Smash Hit” from the day they’re created.
Then come songs like ‘bloodline’ and ‘ghosting’ which are comparable to ‘Side By Side’ and ‘Be Alright’ respectively. ‘break up with your girlfriend, I’m bored’ – the music video for which was released on the morning of the album release – easily fills the gap of “next single”. Although, as we said, any of the songs could take that position. ‘fake smile’ is an honest uncovering of her true emotion whilst ‘in my head’ gets into her rocky relationships, “I thought you were the one, but it was all in my head”.
On which note, “thank u, next” notably uses more “samples” than any previous Ariana album. We say “samples” in “ “ because some of them may be a stretch. ‘in my head’ features an opening sample of one of her best friends Doug Middlebrook talking, whilst ‘fake smile’ samples Wendy Rene and ‘bloodline’ features Marjorie Grande (Ariana’s Nonna). Either way, it positions the album closer to a female-pop-vocalist version of Kanye West’s ‘The Life Of Pablo’ in tone than any other recent pop album.
IT'S AN ALBUM FOR HER FRIENDS... WE'RE JUST GRATEFUL THAT SHE ALLOWED US TO LISTEN TO IT
If you’ve followed Ariana Grande on Instagram for the past 5 minutes, you’ll know that when she’s not rehearsing or recording, she’s with her friends. And even when she is, she’s usually doing it with her friends. “thank u, next” is a reflection of that – it’s an album for her friends, as she candidly talks and jokes about her notorious past. Whilst we wait to be enlisted as one of her BFFs, we’re just grateful that she allowed us to listen to it.