Ariana Grande | thank u, next | Album Review
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Ariana Grande completed thank u, next, her fifth studio album, in just two months. No one will accuse Grande of being lazy, but she might have wanted to take a little more time to put out something a bit more polished.
thank u, next has some stand-out tracks with “imagine,” “needy,” and “ghostin,” which all showcase Grande’s breathy soprano vocals. These songs sound like standard R&B slow jams, evoking artists like The Weeknd while expressing emotional vulnerability, something rarely seen in a global superstar.
“imagine” describes the reality of dating in an age of social media, juxtaposing descriptions of lying in bed and the bathtub with a lover while repeating the phrase “click, click, click, and post.” This reality is probably particularly pronounced for Grande, the most followed celebrity on Instagram. Tracks like “imagine” are lyrically more mature than Grande’s earlier work, like the famously grammatically incorrect “Break Free.”
Unfortunately, other tracks come across as rushed first drafts of songs. “7 rings,” which bizarrely samples “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music, comes across as an excuse for a wealthy celebrity to brag about how she can buy whatever she wants. Also, instead of utilizing her impressive vocal range, Grande lazily raps half of the track’s lyrics.
In “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored,” Grande comes across as unapologetic and frustrated that the song’s subject isn’t bowing to her selfish whims. After Grande’s spent much of her career defending women who express their sexuality and releasing female empowerment tracks like “God is A Woman,” it seemed an off-putting message to release a single that focuses on tearing another woman down. It’s also a strange choice for a concluding track on an album that is mostly about self-discovery after a break-up: ending on a note of self-absorbed jealously.