Ariana Grande kicks off the year with release of “Thank U, Next”

Grande’s fifth studio album boasts messages of self-love and a subtle tribute to late Mac Miller.

Ariana Grande released her fifth album, “Thank U, Next,” on Feb. 8, only six months after the Aug.17, 2018, release of “Sweetener.” The album consists of 12 songs and is 41 minutes in length. Unlike “Sweetener,” the album has no features, but includes samples such as her grandmother speaking and a sound bite from Wendy Rene’s “After Laughter.”

“Thank U, Next” not only boasts extremely successful singles such as “Imagine” and “7 Rings,” but is extremely well composed for an album written and produced so quickly –– Grande apparently wrote the majority of the release in one week.

Of the 14 tracks that “Thank U, Next” consists of, “Ghostin” would definitely be my favorite. A beautiful, moving song, “Ghostin” is most likely about Grande’s struggle with the death of her former partner, Mac Miller. Miller died in September of 2018 from a drug overdose.

What makes “Ghostin” even more heartbreaking is the lyrics: “Though I wish he were here instead/ don't want that living in your head/ he just comes to visit me/ when I'm dreaming every now and then.” Not only do they allude to Grande wishing Miller was still alive, but the lyrics parallel those of Miller’s song “Cinderella,” which he wrote about Grande in 2016: “You in my dreams, that's why I sleep all the time.” “Ghostin” also samples Miller’s song “2009” with a similar tempo and instrumental. All of these components together make a song perfect to cry to at the end of a long, exhausting day.

Many of the songs on “Thank U, Next” promote self- love and acceptance, such as “NASA” and “Needy”. “NASA,” an upbeat, feel-good song, pushes that it’s OK to not always spend every living moment with your partner and to focus on “me time.” Its catchy beat and lyrics definitely had me dancing in my seat every time I listened to it. “Needy” focuses on the fact that everyone can need attention, which isn’t a bad thing. Although slower than “NASA,” it is still very memorable.

Unlike “NASA” and “Ghostin,” songs such as “In My Head” and “Make Up” didn’t quite live up to my expectations. The off-kilter beat and lyrics of “Make Up” weren’t aesthetically pleasing and “In My Head” just didn’t catch on like others. However, it is possible that I simply need to listen to them a few more times –– I didn’t really like “Bloodline” or “Bad Idea” until my second listen.

Through its ups and downs, “Thank U, Next” is a wonderful album and further proves Grande’s capabilities as an artist. Not only did she write and produce an album in the span of six months, but created singles that enchanted thousands and she continues to dominate the music industry. The possibilities 2019 holds for the young artist are limitless.

Edited by Joe Cross | jcross@themaneater.com

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