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Music album review: “thank u, next”
After months of blessing fans with iconic songs and music videos, Ariana Grande’s fifth album, “thank u, next” has finally arrived.
February 10, 2019
If you thought Kris Jenner as Ariana Grande’s mom in the “thank u, next” music video was a smash, wait until you hear what Ari has in store for listeners in her newest set of 12 songs she released on Friday.
For those who’ve been following Grande’s relationship status over the last few months, it’s evident that the album “thank u, next” is her kiss goodbye to her relationship with ex-fiancé Pete Davidson. While her last album, “Sweetener,” which she just released just six months ago, felt like a celebration of her new love for Davidson and coping with the Manchester bombing, “thank u, next” is a different celebration altogether. “thank u, next” is the devil to “Sweetener’s” angel and compared to “Sweetener,” this new album feels more like the devil on Ari’s shoulder helping her deal with the breakup by highlighting the more pessimistic thoughts about her relationship with Davidson, as well as relationships in general. If listeners pay attention to the album covers, they notice this change as her hair and dress in the “Sweetener” cover are white, pure and clean. This directly contrasts with Ari’s new album cover, which features her in dark hair, with dark-colored lipstick and “thank u, next” painted in black on her chest.
While her songs “imagine” and “thank u, next” are truly some of the all-time favorite AG songs, they won’t be featured on the top list since they’re the two songs off this album that’ve been pre-released for the longest periods of time.
Best three songs:
“7 rings”: Although some of her lyrics in this song may be under scrutiny for sounding too similar to other rap songs, this track is a perfect example of how an artist can still remain relevant without trying to hard. Ariana pushes her music to a whole new level by combining her relaxed vocals with a clean and powerful sound to highlight how she’s in charge of her money and how she chooses to spend it. She also has a brief section about halfway through the song where she starts rapping bars, something that’s never been featured on an album of hers, yet it sounds like she’s been a professional rapper for years. This song is also unique compared to the rest of the album in that it can be listened to at any point, not just after a breakup. While this song isn’t the overall MVP off the new album, it’s definitely an important moment in her music career as it not only shows off the unparalleled versatility of her voice, but her brave approach to try new styles and her flawless execution of them.
“bad idea”: Musically, this song is so different from what Ariana has put out in the past, with a really clean guitar riff that shifts to some of the most powerful vocals on the whole album. Even though the lyrics may be a little on the repetitive side, they feel raw and less generic than some of the others on the album. If you’re not a fan of the beginning sound, stick around for the two and a half minute mark because it’ll give you chills with gorgeous high notes mixed with a crescendoing orchestra in the background. The last minute and a half is hauntingly beautiful, which seems to be a common theme on this album.
“break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored”: If you haven’t already seen the music video to this song, which Ari dropped before her album release, this song is definitely a game-changer for her style. Initially, this track sounds like a slower, sultry version of Drake’s “In My Feelings,” as the beat throughout the songs are similar. However, the beat’s beginning notes sound similar to those also featured in “7 rings” and “thank u, next,” adding further cohesion to the album. As the song goes into its pre-chorus, her vocals switch from ending one phrase on a major note to ending on a minor note. This could almost represent her inner self and her thoughts going from the angel to the devil, another idea of this album. Out of all the songs on “thank u, next” this song will definitely be an AG classic as its bold lyrics and relaxed beat make it a true bop.
Bottom three songs
“in my head”: Compared to her other songs on this album, “in my head” is slower and not as deep with emotion, which she does so well on the other songs. The vocals in the pre-chorus have that same hauntingly stunning vibe, but overall the beat sounds too generic. For all the high notes she hit on this album, this song doesn’t grab your attention enough and isn’t as memorable. While there are highlights to this song, it seems more like a diss track to Pete than a song you can bop to more than once.
“needy”: As a song by itself, “needy” is a very pretty song with its lullaby simplicity and easygoing vocals. But, when put up against the rest of what “thank u, next” has to offer, something about this song just doesn’t fit the album well. Although it adds some relief to the majority of the songs that have a trap feel, “needy” just seems out of place. If Ariana needed some other songs to help break up the feels of this album, she accomplishes this with the uniqueness of beats like “bloodline” and “fake smile.” While “needy” doesn’t have anything that makes it an inherently bad song, it feels like this track belongs more on albums like “Dangerous Woman” or “Yours Truly.”
“make up”: With this song’s care-free lyrics and chords, “make up” is a feel-good song, but that’s about it. Put up against the rest of the album, this song doesn’t have the layers or depth to compete with “ghostin” or “NASA.” It’s still a song you can bop to, but without some of the more memorable feelings as the lyrics and progression of the song are on the basic side.
Overall, Ariana has kept fans waiting for an album that’s truly special and definitely worth all its teasing throughout the past several months. The best songs on “thank u, next” will be classics to sing and remember for many years to come, and even the more generic songs tell that Ariana is still dominating the music industry and can’t be touched.