Grande says ‘thank you, next;’ uses music to move on

Ali Smith, roundtable editor

“thank u, next,” Ariana Grande’s fifth album, is her most successful album — and for good reason. It is also my second-favorite album of all time, besting “The Dance” by Fleetwood Mac.
Following the deadly attack in Manchester, England, during her “Dangerous Woman” tour, Grande wrote her album “Sweetener,” which was highly anticipated and a great success. This sweet success was quickly overshadowed by great tragedy, however, after Mac Miller passed away in September 2018, devastating the music industry and Grande.
But once again, Grande persevered and turned her pain into art with the “thank u, next” album.
Grande’s fifth album covers topics of love, heartbreak, grief, feminism, space and carelessness.
The album begins with “imagine,” which was released as a single prior to the release of her album, giving fans a taste of what was to come. “imagine” is a song about longing — longing for a normal life with a normal relationship, without the pressures of the media and the paparazzi. This song reminds us that celebrities want normalcy in their relationships amidst the glamorous chaos.
“needy,” the second track, is something most people who have been in a relationship can relate to, especially women. The song discusses Grande’s struggle with feeling clingy and needy in her romantic relationships, as well as jealousy of her partner, because as she sarcastically says, “I know it feels so good to be needed.”
Third comes “NASA.” In this song, Grande plays on interstellar vocabulary to explain the space she craves from her partner, which directly contrasts with her previous track. This is a fun, powerful song that also plays upon girl power, insinuating no woman needs a man.
“bloodline” is another song that gives power to girls by describing a no-strings-attached relationship consisting of emotionless fun and no commitment. Even the back track demands respect.
After all that Grande has been through, she says there is no point in a “fake smile.” In her fifth song, she literally says, “F*** a fake smile.” This is an empowering motto, as it encourages all listeners to express their true feelings for the health of their mind and soul.
Grande’s sixth track, “bad idea,” follows the same ideology as “bloodline” in that there is no shame in meaningless sexual relationships, although she does ironically call it a “bad idea.”
Track seven, “make up,” is a silly song about initiating pointless fights in order to make up in an intense way, which plays into the carefree spirit of this album and Grande following all of the tragedy she has endured.
The album slows down and hits more serious topics in “ghostin,” the highly anticipated song about Miller. I had the pleasure of seeing Grande perform on her “Sweetener/thank u, next” tour, and she made the disclaimer to fans that this song was too emotional to perform live, especially in Miller’s hometown of Pittsburgh.
This song adds weight to my heart every time I hear it, as I grieve for Miller, feel for Grande, and fear for myself, as I never want to experience a loss like this.
“in my head” carries over the heaviness and personal content from “ghostin,” as the song begins with a voice message from her best friend and tour director Doug Middlebrook. “Here’s the thing, you’re in love with a version of a person that you’ve created in your head, that you are trying to but cannot fix.” Uh, the only person you can fix is yourself. I love you, this has gone on way too long, enough is enough, I’m two blocks away, I’m coming over,” said Middlebrook. I am guessing that this song is about Grande’s ex-fiance Pete Davidson, but this is an important message for all people struggling in a toxic relationship to hear.
Track 10 speeds things up with another pre-released single, “7 rings.” This is an extremely powerful song, encouraging women to provide for themselves and celebrate their accomplishments and singleness with zero shame.
“thank u, next,” my favorite song ever, is an upbeat song about love, loss and coming out on the other end better than ever. Grande did perform this at her concert in Pittsburgh, and she could not continue the song routinely after choking up on Miller’s name in his hometown.
Rather than listing boyfriends’ names in the beginning of the song, I sing to myself the names of all of the battles that I have personally overcome, and become thankful for all they have taught me. That is why this song is so special to so many people; because it can symbolize inner growth from so much more than romantic relationships.
The album ends with “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored,” which is an interesting and controversial concept for many. This song may sound familiar, as it is shares lyrics with N*Sync’s lyrics to “Makes Me Ill” around the bridge. Synonymous with most of her songs, Grande intended a much deeper meaning for this tune. As revealed at the end of the song’s music video, Ariana again turns to herself for companionship and love, which is all you really need in life, right?