thank u, next- Ariana Grande track by track review

Hello Angels!

So, here’s the thing: I don’t mind Ariana Grande. I think she’s a great person and she can release some good shit. So, I was excited when I saw she was releasing a new album. Then I listened to this, and there’s a lot of good tracks on it, but some stuff left me completely underwhelmed.

A lot of this album, I can relate to. I do think she’s had a shit time and while she’s said writing this album was therapeutic, I think it’s also therapeutic to listen to in a way.

So, without my further babble, here is a track by track rundown of thank u, next.

  1. imagine
    Her voice is incredible on this, I’ll start with that: her high notes are there, including the throat whistle that very few people can pull off and do, so to me, it feels like she just keeps getting better.
    After listening to it a good few times, I think it’s clear that this is one of the songs written about Mac Miller, and to me personally, it ties in a little with aspects of ghostin’ (which comes in later in the album and I’ll draw the connections I see then).
    Other than that, while it is a beautiful song and it’s well written, it just doesn’t seem as standout as the other songs on the album. It feels like a very typical romantic love song, with an added layer of yearning and sadness, which while adds to it, something just doesn’t feel right about it. It feels like there’s something missing from it. At first, I thought it was great and it’s very different and stripped back to what she usually does, but when listening to the rest of the album, it’s just not there.
  2. needy
    This is MY song. This is the one song I listen to and I can relate to whole heartedly and I love her for writing it. I think the plus point of growing up with fans is that they begin to relate to some of the things you go through, and this puts across how I know so many people feel about them.
    One thing I think that she puts across well is that it can be difficult to love someone who is “a lil’ messed up” and that how you may act could frighten a person off, but you can’t help it. Backing up that is the beginning of the second verse “Sorry if I’m up and down a lot, sorry that I think I’m not enough, sorry if I say sorry way too much… But after all this damage I can’t help it” and I think the fact that she’s saying stuff like this is such an unapologetic way is refreshing.
    Usually with songs like this it’s something that people try and make really romantic, and don’t get me wrong, with lines like “But all I know is I need you close” and “But what I can trust is I need your touch” there is definitely romantic tones, but it’s not a sob story and it’s not all sad. It’s not making being a little broken seem like a good thing, or wanting sympathy, it’s just really honest.
  3. NASA
    This is a 90’s girl band inspired bop if I’ve ever heard one, which given the tone of the album having the whole girl power thing going for it, I think it’s one of the most fitting songs on the album, as well as showing care for the person she’s with in a weirder way.
    The verse opens with “I’d rather be alone tonight, you can say ‘I love you’ through the phone tonight” which sets it off that she’s not going home and she wants time to herself. Then the line “Just makin’ sure I’m good on my own tonight”, which to me implies that she wants to make sure she can still be okay on her own, and she’s not relying on anyone.
    I think the whole thing is about knowing that sometimes people need space (which is why I love the fact it’s called NASA, I thought it was really clever) and that they “can’t really miss you if I’m with you” and sometimes we need to miss a person to remind ourselves how much we appreciate having them. We also get the common theme of her trying to find herself and how there “ain’t nothing wrong with saying I need me time” and “You don’t wanna leave me but I’m tryna self discover, keep me in your orbit and you know you’ll drag me under”.
    When it boils down to it, it’s about wanting someone around but they’re coming too strong too fast and when you’re trying to put you first and look after yourself, they’re not helping you at all and you need to put more space there.
  4. bloodline
    This one I didn’t expect to like as much as I did end up doing. Again, it’s become one of my favourites on the album. It’s written well and it’s catchy, as well as bringing in elements I didn’t expect Ariana Grande to play around with. I didn’t expect her voice to mesh as well as it did with the music; I thought one or the other wouldn’t meld well and get drowned out, but if she did a whole album with this kind of sound, I’d buy it in a heartbeat.
    A lot of this album has the theme of going out and having fun and being single and enjoying yourself. There’s times where it’s more about loving yourself and how you need to love yourself fully before you can give yourself to another person seriously.
    This plays with that in a way; while it isn’t serious, you can still go and have fun.
    “Don’t want you in my bloodline, just wanna have a good time” is the line that shows the message that it’s okay to not be serious with every person you meet. It’s okay to go out and have a good time and to let yourself relax.
    Though, I am gonna say, that with every song I’ve heard on the album yet, there are ties to past relationships, whether picked up on or not: in the second verse, we hear “Not looking for my one true love, that ship sailed away”.
  5. fake smile
    I don’t hear enough people talking about the lyrics in this one. I’d like people to remember that she’s been through a fucking lot and she’s only in her early 20’s, so the fact that she’s feeling like this? It’ not fucking right.
    She covers a lot here: from not feeling safe (“Can someone walk me to my car, if I go alone I’m not gon’ make it very far”) to the fact she feels she needs to fake happiness (“I can’t fake another smile, I can’t fake like I’m alright” and “Fuck a fake smile”) and also touching on the media’s views (“Hear what they say about me on the TV, it’s crazy, getting hard for them to shock me”) I think we get a window into her life and how she feels. In all honesty, I have no idea how she’s coped with so much and I got a lot of love and respect for how she’s handled herself.
    We get a glimmer of her standing up for herself in the bridge “If I’m hurt, I ain’t gonna lie about it, arms crossed with the attitude, lips pouted”, and I think the message she’s putting across is that you shouldn’t hide how you feel and it’s okay to feel and not fake a smile all the time.
    Preach bitch, I need that lesson myself.
  6. bad idea
    This is another that I could imagine a girl band doing really well, but at the same time, I can only imagine Ariana herself doing this any justice and being able to get every aspect of it across and it not come off as way too much for one song.
    This one connects a few themes from the album together: one of which is wanting to protect someone from getting too close, as shown through the majority of the song, but the opening verse highlights that with “I’ve been worries ’bout you lately, running out of time”.
    Yet, we still have the same feel we get in bloodlines, because she doesn’t want to hurt this person, but she wants to have fun with them (“I got a bad idea, I’m gonna call you over to numb the pain” and “Even though we shouldn’t, baby boy, we know we will”).
    The contrast between the meanings and the intentions is enough that I was impressed, as a lyricist I know the balance is difficult to pull off well, but then the contrast between the fact the song itself is upbeat, but the lyrics are far from it was something I thought was pulled off incredibly well.
    What brought this down for me was the ending; I thought the ending music went on for way too long, and the pitched down vocals that reminded me of the same effect used in Stressed Out by 21 Pilots in 2015, and then every other artist in 2016 and 2016. It’s something which is so overdone that I think it brings her down a bit in a way because after pulling of something like this, there’s no need to play into past musical trends.
  7. make up
    I wasn’t a fan of this lyrically and so it just put me off the entire thing. I don’t like that it played into the arguing and making each other angry just to have makeup sex ploy (“I like to fuck with you just to make up with you ’cause the way you’re screaming my name”). After everything covered on the album, it doesn’t link in, there’s nothing sexy or powerful about getting your boyfriends dick up (“Sorry-in-a-box, so when it pops up by surprise”).
    I can appreciate that the lyrics are clever, but the actual song itself is awful to me personally and there’s not a lot else I can say about it.
  8. ghostin
    One of my favourite songs on the album by far. I cried listening to it and had to take a break form listening to the album because it actually hit me really hard. I think the fact it’s such a personal song and how raw her emotion is makes the song. It makes it feel more personal. It’s the slowest, saddest song on the album yes, but it’s also easily the most beautiful. I can’t talk about it as a song as a whole because it’s just something I can’t put my finger on. I can’t go into detail on why it’s so beautiful to me and why it hit me so hard; it just did.
    This one links to ‘imagine’ to me because of the mention of “He just comes to visit me, when I’m dreaming every now and then” when in imagine, she talks about a dream world for the two of them. There’s also the line “Though I wish he were here instead” and “…While you’re sleeping next to me, but it’s your arms I need this time”: both which focus a lot around how she sleeps with this person, which is also mentioned in ‘imagine’ through the line in the chorus “We go like up ’til I’m asleep on your chest, love how my face fits so good in your neck”.
    To me, I think that ‘imagine’ is a song for Mac Miller, and what she loved about being with him and wished she still had, whereas ‘ghostin’ is her dealing with his death and her regret of knowing she’s still in love with him, but she’s lay next to Pete Davidson and while she loves him and she loves everything he’s done for her, it can’t compare, and she hates that she’s putting him through something. That in itself is a heartbreaking thing to go through, but to hear somebody dealing with it is also heartbreaking.
  9. in my head
    I feel personally victimised by the content of these lyrics and I’m suing for the fact she’s gotten in my head and written down my own flaws when it comes to my past romances.
    The whole song is about how you see a person you’re in love with different to how everyone else does; “They see a demon, I see an angel”. It talks about how you almost fix a person in your head, ignore the faults, and you almost create a version of who they are to fit what you want from a person, even if they’re really shitty (“Your Gucci tennis shoes, runnin’ from your issues” is an ICONIC line, do we know the same people?)
    Yet again, we see that she accepts that the fact she saw this person like this and ignored the people around her as her fault. It was her own issue and her own doing. There’s nothing that she wants pity for, and I respect that. Living in a world full of women in the music industry passing blame for their mistakes on to other people is tiring. While no person is to blame for falling in love with a shitty person, somebody who isn’t having a sob story and wanting sympathy from anyone with ears is refreshing.
  10. 7 rings
    Don’t kill me, but I’m not a fan. I think this lyrically went too much down the typical rap route. There’s so much flexing, there’s so much comparison and judgement in a way. Yes, the line “Been through some bad shit, I should be a sad bitch, who would’ve thought it’d turn me into a savage” is iconic and I have used it as a caption on Instagram.
    The use of ‘Those are a Few of My Favourite Things’ doesn’t work here. I’m all for sampling songs and taking parts of songs to flip on their head and use in a clever way if it works, and to me, this really just doesn’t work. I just don’t think anything meshes well, and while it’s original, it also reeks of being completely unoriginal, and after a lot of this album, I expected more.
    Yes, some of her lyrics in it are still great, but a lot of them have been meme’d and there’s something in it that takes away a lot of what she’s done with the album; yes, she’s buying “rings for each of my bitches” and a “ring don’t mean no mrs” but when it comes down to it, it’s very face value. I heard this and I was incredibly disappointed, and it’s the one song I do skip as much as I can.
  11. thank u, next
    The most famous song on the album, as well as clearly the title of the album, I think it’s the most commercial and catchy on the album as a whole, which is why it is and was lead single material.
    I like the fact that she’s taken the trend of talking about ex’s, and she’s done it in a way where she’s talking about how great each one was for her in a way with the lines “One taught me love, one taught me patience, one taught me pain”, as well as not being indirect and naming each of them.
    None of that T-Swizzle shit here.
    There’s also the theme of her loving herself and how she’s learned from each mistake (“Look what I’ve got, look what you taught me”) and she’s come through it fine is something that I think people should take note of. She also makes the statement of “…Because her name is Ari, and I’m so good with that” shows us that it’s okay being on your own, it’s okay to love yourself. It’s okay to think you’re amazing, to recognise you’re a strong arse bitch. I love the fact that it’s celebrating love in a warped way, but also celebrating self love and I’m here for it.
    Also, yes, the video is incredible and the ending of “Thank you next, bitch” is iconic.
  12. break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored
    Her newest single, and the one which has caused a lot of controversy in its own way, though I’ve not actually seen too many people mention it or complain (but believe me, I’ve seen it).
    Here’s my theory though; I don’t think she’s actually talking about trying to split up a relationship and instead she’s talking about wanting to break up with her boyfriend and focus on herself because she’s bored of being in a relationship. She’s bored of splitting her time and attention and wants to focus on herself. When she’s saying “Then he realise she can’t compare”, it’s seeing two versions: the version of herself when she’s improved can’t compare to the version of herself she is now, whereas her earlier lyrics of “Damn, it ain’t fair” is her thinking it’s not fair that she can’t make herself into who she wants to be because she’s tied down.
    As a person who’s been there, trust me, I get it.

So, here it is: a track by track rundown of ‘thank u, next’. I think we can all agree that her music has grown as she has, and this was written on about a week, which is impressive. I love the message her music has (mostly) taken, I’m glad there’s someone who is saying what people is going through is normal without begging for sympathy or making herself out to be a victim.

With everything that’s gone on in her life the past few years I don’t think anyone would blame her if she’d gone off the rails, but she’s not and I may not be a huge fan, but I can be a fan of her as a person and I’m proud.

Stat safe and stay happy, Angels❤️

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