Listen to this: ‘Thank U, Next’


Photo courtesy of Mat Diana

Mat Diana '20, Opinion Editor

Ariana Grande should have one of the easiest jobs in popular music. Her celebrity status, matched with the breadth of her vocal talent, should let her release chart-topping hits however often she wants. What makes this latest album, and her career over the last two years, so compelling is that she does manage to do all this, while still maintaining a reputation as an artist not willing to take the easy route.

Thank u, next comes in the aftermath of her breakup with Pete Davidson, and similarly marks her first project since Mac Miller’s passing. It would have been easy for Grande to pay lip-service to her engagement, or Mac’s death, as an accessory selling point on otherwise canned and comfortable tracks. What makes this album, and her approach to pop-music as of late, so refreshing is that she does not undersell the emotional investment she has in her own life, nor that of her fans. She practically spells this out on “fake smile,” contrasting how she is supposed to market herself as a pop-star with the emotional toll her personal life has taken on her. The album finds its strength in Grande’s vulnerability, exacerbated by the fact that these songs were recorded while this chapter in her life is still ongoing, as the title track dropped just weeks after her engagement ended.

Grande does not sacrifice her position at the top of pop-music with her introspective approach, as this project sported three number-one singles on Billboard’s top 100. Stellar production and catchy tunes make the album easy to put on without really listening to, but fans with a greater investment in her artistry will find that an emotional and painful personal journey lie below the listenable façade of this album. With thank you, next, Ariana Grande continues to monopolize this corner of pop-music, and figures to continue as one of the few artists garnering critical claim on top of widespread appeal.