Thank U, Next is powerhouse Ariana Grande’s fifth studio album and arguably her best album to date. I call Grande a powerhouse because she literally does it all. Her single “Thank U, Next” was on the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks at number one, her track “7 Rings” has been on the chart for three weeks at number one, and the single “Thank U, Next” also made Grande the most-streamed female artist in a 24-hour period on the app Spotify. “Thank U, Next”‘s 9.6m streams replaced Taylor Swift’s 2017 record of 9.1 million streams of 2017 single “Look What You Made Me Do.” Grande proves over and over again she can do it all and proves this the most by releasing the album Thank U Next shortly after releasing her fourth album Sweetener.
She is changing the way the music industry thinks and releases music by bombarding us with a plethora of new material to listen to, and just when we think that’s it, that’s all, she teases us some more and releases even more music. Her new album was produced exponentially fast by anyone’s standard as she mentions in a interview for Billboard for which she was awarded Billboard Woman Of The Year: “Thank U, Next was mostly written in a week, with the people she’s toasting in the control room, and recorded in two weeks…It was the product of a lot of “feminine energy and champagne and music and laughter and crying. This [album’s] not particularly uplifting,” she says. “A lot of it sounds really upbeat, but it’s actually a super sad chapter.”
In her interview with Billboard Grande says she wants to produce music the way a rapper does: “My dream has always been to be — obviously not a rapper, but, like, to put out music in the way that a rapper does. I feel like there are certain standards that pop women are held to that men aren’t. We have to do the teaser before the single, then do the single, and wait to do the preorder, and radio has to impact before the video, and we have to do the discount on this day, and all this shit. It’s just like, ‘Bruh, I just want to fucking talk to my fans and sing and write music and drop it the way these boys do. Why do they get to make records like that and I don’t?’
She is already using social media sites like Instagram and especially Twitter to work for her. In a Tweet posted January 10, the singer captioned an image of a defaced door frame with seven ring emojis and the date: “1.18”. Leading fans to wonder if she was teasing a new song titled “7 Rings” which she most definitely was. “7 Rings” was probably one of the only songs I found on the album to not be as relateable as I had hoped. It sounded more like a hip hoppy pop anthem for the 1% than an anthem for friendship as the singer claims in an interview with Elle: ” “Seven rings is jus like…..a flex. Friendship anthem. How the homies WANT u to feel. What the ‘thank u next’ energy evolves into while embracing a new chapter (even tho both moods /energies are v present).”
“7 Rings” has a very real backstory as the singer recalls in her interview with Billboard: ” ‘It was a… challenging fall day in New York,” she begins, cracking up. “Me and my friends went to Tiffany’s together, just because we needed some retail therapy. You know how when you’re waiting at Tiffany’s they give you lots of champagne? They got us very tipsy, so we bought seven engagement rings, and when I got back to the studio I gave everybody a friendship ring.” She flashes a diamond ring on her right hand. “That’s why we have these, and that’s where the song idea came from.’ ”
As much as I love to hate on how out of touch this song really is when compared to the every day life of the average person, I can’t help but jive to it and find myself laughing when I realize some of these lyrics actually relate to me. For example, when she sings “You like my hair? Gee, thanks, just bought it” I can’t help but relate as someone who spends part of her income on fresh hair extensions. People compliment my hair all the time and now I feel like my response should be “Gee. thanks, just bought it!” However, she also sings things like “Yeah, my receipts, be lookin’ like phone numbers” that have me and I think most people relating more to the popular parody of “7 Rings” than the song itself. Check out the parody below for a good laugh!
I think the parody’s really basic manipulation of Ari’s lyrics ” I see it, I like it, I want it, I got it” to “I see it, I like it, I want it, can’t buy it” sums up my and most people’s lives. Just because we want something doesn’t mean we can afford it unless we ‘re Ari, which is really what I am taking away from this song. And when the down and out girl sings “Been through bad shit too, turned me to a sad bitch. Got nothin’ from it but student loan baggage” in the parody I could not help but want to laugh and cry at the same time because I felt that shit. But I also felt the impact of the original lyrics from “7 Rings: “Been through some bad shit, I should be a sad bitch. Who woulda thought it’d turn me to a savage?” and you can’t help but be in awe of Ariana Grande a little bit. The woman has experienced real trauma in her life and she’s coming back stronger for it. I mean she lost Mac Miller and Pete Davidson in a matter of months, and let’s not forget that time her concert was targeted by a suicide bomber in Manchester. But what does Ari do? She comes back with twice as much love and twice as much passion for her craft which was evident when she put on a benefit concert for those affected by the bombing.
Grande has been through some serious bad shit and has definitely come out of it a savage. She is in full beast mode with the release of her latest album and each song is a testament to her genius. My favourite track on the entire album, however, is one which has yet to be made into a music video nor really promoted much and that is “Needy.” In the song she sings “Sorry if I’m up and down a lot, Sorry that I think I’m not enough.” These lyrics for me personally were the realest. I think everyone in the world can relate to not feeling like they are enough, if not now then at some point in their life. I believe it is one of the biggest struggles we face – our worth. I gained that much more respect for Grande when I heard these lyrics and felt a sense of empowerment in the idea that if Ari, a mega superstar, has similar issues with her self-esteem than I think I can come to terms with my own.
Thank U, Next has a track for everyone whether you’re in the one percent or part of the masses. Grande bears a large part of her soul and let’s you come inside for something that is truly special. You can listen to the album from the beginning to end without skipping any tracks – each song is equally as good as the one before or after it. I strongly recommend this album for anyone but especially for those who have experienced heartache. Ari sings her most honest songs yet in this album and through sharing her feelings, lets her listeners feel a little more at peace with their own.
Would I recommend this album?