- 25 Feb 19
Superb effort from pop superstar.
Thank U, Next arrives just six months after Sweetener – the album on which Grande firmly found her voice after the Manchester terrorist attack.
This record was also created in the midst of a turbulent year: public break-ups; the overdose of Mac Miller; accusations of cultural appropriation; and feuds with Grammy producers.
Here’s some scary stats. Grande currently has 54 million monthly listeners on Spotify (first in the world), and the title-track’s video shattered YouTube records, becoming the largest debut in history. Thankfully, thank u, next has the swagger to match the stats. Grande’s maturity here is seismic – a declaration of strength and independence. If Sweetener was a solid step in the right direction, this is a stunning leap forward.
Her voice is astounding across the 12 tracks, as she shuns ginormous vocal flexes in favour of simpler, gentler riffs. The music is more cohesive and the production crisper than previous efforts. On ‘ghostin’, she describes feeling badly for the person you’re with because you love somebody else – it’s the most personal song on the album.
‘NASA’, an album highlight, discusses the need for boundaries in a relationship with excessive space metaphors. Drag queen Shangela declares in the opening lines: “This is one small step for woman / One giant leap for woman-kind”.
Her tone shifts with ‘7 rings’: “Been through some bad shit / I should be a sad bitch / Who woulda thought it’d turn me to a savage?" and on the no-fucks given semi-rapped ‘break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored’.
Young as she is, it is difficult to imagine a world without Ariana Grande. I suspect bellowing about her tribulations helps not just her, but everyone going through a tough time. On thank u, next, she teaches us all a lesson in perseverance. A class act – thank u, Ari.