Ariana Grande's "thank u, next" Is The Ariana Album We Deserve

When Ariana Grande surprise dropped "thank u, next" on November 3, 2018, she basically broke the internet. Especially when you take into consideration that the release of her fourth studio album Sweetener was on August 17, 2018, which means the window for the brand new single was less than 3 months from the previous album release which is remarkably unusual for a pop star of her caliber, or any artist for that matter. But as the cards played ever in her favor, Grande catapulted to the top of the charts with "thank u, next" and instantly, the hype was on for her then untitled fifth studio album.

Fast forward to release week, we've had a massive single accompanied by an equally massive video (the"thank u, next" video currently has over 292 million streams on YouTube), a promo single titled "imagine" which dropped on December 14, 2018 and the latest hit track from the album which marks the second official single, "7 rings," released on January 18, 2019. All eyes and ears are on Ariana Grande come February 8 as her fifth studio album thank u, next is unleashed upon the world.

With an early listen to Ari's latest album, I'm here to report on what is the greatness of thank u, next. Now I know some fans were not on board for the Sweetener era as a whole (even though it was responsible for 3 hit singles) but to those fans I say, rejoice, for Ariana has given us something a bit more of a return to form here, truly.
The opening track "imagine" sets up the album nicely, a sophisticated production builds up to some incredibly high notes in the bridge that would make even Mariah Carey proud. "imagine" feels like it could have been placed on the Dangerous Woman album without missing a beat. "needy" is brilliance in all of its simplicity, a scaled back production relies heavily on harmonies and Ariana's vocals to drive the track, which is no issue at all, really.
Enter "NASA," now this is where the heat really starts to turn up, this is a bop in every sense of the word! Opening with a line from someone working a space control station saying "It's one small step for woman, one giant leap for womankind," "NASA" moves along before skyrocketing off to the stars when the chorus hits, it's undeniable and has hit single potential all over it.
"bloodline" packs a punch, delivering a vivacious message that Ariana is here for you but only for a good time, not a long time. The infectious pre-chorus and chorus make this another standout for the album, we're 4 for 4 here, y'all. "fake smile" continues a return to form with a hip-hop production fused with Motown, old-school R&B flavors that channel her debut album Tattoo Heart. "fake smile" samples 1964's "After Laughter (Come Tears)" by the late soul singer/songwriter Wendy Rene and the execution is brilliantly haunting, the intro gives me goosebumps.
"fake smile" samples "After Laughter (Comes Tears)" and I have a feeling fans of the song will want to hear the original too, I did.

"bad idea" picks up the sass as Ariana plays with her temptations:
"I got a bad idea, yeah, I'ma call you over here to numb the pain, I got a bad idea, forget about it, yeah, forget about him, yeah, forget about me"
"bad idea" relies on light percussion, deep bass, some strings and a melodic lead synth but never overpowers Ariana's vocals, team Ariana ensured her flawless vocals stay front and center throughout thank u, next. Then again, has a production ever been able to drown out Ariana's vocals?
"make up" comes in with a slinky synth and a quirky deep bass line for another mid-tempo track. My favorite line in the song is easily the shoutout to Rihanna's successful makeup line that's kept her from giving us new music for years now:
"No eyeliner on, but looking at you is the fix Highlight of my life, just like that Fenty Beauty kit"
"ghostin" is the ballad I think most of us expected on thank u, next. It's a moment to embrace the heartbreak Ariana has suffered through over the years, particularly the untimely 2018 death of her ex Mac Miller, maybe? Ugh, my heart, her heart, our hearts!
Ariana Grande gets introspective with "in my head," another mid-tempo number that showcases Ariana's emotional release, feeling like a diary entry of sorts. Followed by "7 rings" and title track "thank u, next" which I don't even have to cover because you've heard them a thousand times by now – plus I included Youtube embeds above if you fall in that 0.1 percentage of humans who haven't heard the hit singles. Closing with perhaps the most intriguing song title on the album, "break up with your girlfriend, i'm bored." feels like the perfect sign off. It's sleek, sexy and fun, allowing Ariana to confidently spotlight her power as one of the world's biggest pop superstars.
With writing credits on every single track, Ariana has whipped up one of, if not, her most cohesive and strongest body of works to date with thank u, next. While a mostly urban soundscape provides the foundation here, the songs are slathered with bouncy and infectious pop hooks galore, providing the proof that Team Grande has truly mastered the art of a hit. This is an album that will please all fans, old and new alike.
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Last updated: 22 Feb 2019, 19:25 Etc/UTC