First Impressions of Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next” Album

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Republic Records

The cover image for Ariana’s record-breaking single, “thank u next”

Jordan Barish, Julia Agius, and Sonia Rao

It is arguable that Ariana Grande is currently at the peak of her music career. Coasting off of success with her album “Sweetener” and the release of singles such as “thank u, next” “imagine” and “7 rings”, Ariana Grande is releasing her 5th album “thank u, next” at midnight on February 8th. Since releasing “Sweetener” 5 months ago, Ariana has gone through a lot: she broke off her engagement to Pete Davidson, her ex-boyfriend Mac Miller passed away suddenly due to a drug overdose, she’s been nominated for 2 Grammys and her music video for “thank u, next” broke the record for most watched music video on Youtube within 24 hours of its release. In order to commemorate the release of the “thank u, next” album, we have decided to give our honest thoughts about each of Ariana’s new songs:

Track 1: imagine

Julia: “imagine” is one of Ariana’s slower songs, allowing her impressive vocal range to truly shine. I think this song shows her true singing talent, unlike some songs on her new album. “imagine” is one of her best songs on “thank u, next”.

Jordan: Out of the three singles that Ariana released prior to the full album, this song is my favorite. The breakdown in the bridge that culminates in whistle notes shows off Ariana’s vocals incredibly well.

Sonia: “imagine” starts off the album with a slower, more somber tone as she laments a “perfect” relationship that, according to her, is only in her head. Although this is not my favorite song on the album, it is an excellent opening track.

Track 2: needy

Julia: In my opinion, this is currently my favorite song on her album. It has a soulful feel that really reminds me of her Christmas album -her best compilation of work ever put out. “needy” truly slaps.

Jordan: This song has more of an r&b feel which showcases her vocals in a good way. Her vocals are very soulful and the lyrics have more meaning than some of her other songs. The violins at the end are a nice touch to finish out the emotional feel of the song.

Sonia: “needy” has much grittier and emotional feel than “imagine,” and the smooth tone and beat make it a definite bop. A snippet of this song has been released for a while now, so I’ve been excited to hear this song, and it definitely exceeds expectations.

Track 3: NASA

Julia: This song has a very poppy feel and seems like a bop you will soon hear on the radio. The punny title, referring to her need for space, is one of the best parts of the song. Overall, this song is going to be a popular one. I really enjoy it.

Jordan: So far in the album, “NASA” is the most poppy and upbeat song. Its contents contrast the previous song, “needy”. While “needy” is Ariana being desperate for affection, “NASA” is her asking for space (making the title a clever pun). The chorus is very catchy and I think this song is definitely single material.

Sonia: “NASA” has a very catchy, unique chorus with a clever pun in the title, but this song feels more generic than the other two tracks. It’s definitely fun to listen to, but not one of my favorites right now.

Track 4: bloodline

Julia: The opening segment with Ariana Grande’s grandma speaking makes the song that much better. “bloodline” has a very Britney Spears vibe and I’m living for it. If you’d like a nice nostalgic feel, this song is definitely for you.  

Jordan: This song starts off with a very 2000’s beat. Another poppy song with catchy lyrics, “bloodline” is a perfect example of why Ariana has been so successful on the pop charts. Lyrically it is not her most in-depth but she does showcase some of her signature falsettos and belts.

Sonia: This track starts with an intro from Ariana’s “Nonna”, Marjorie Grande, and then drops into a catchy beat. It’s very catchy and very easy to sing along and jam to. Although maybe not as emotional as the other tracks, the song makes up for it with an excellent rhythm.

Track 5: fake smile

Julia: “fake smile” also has an old school, slower beat. This song touches on Ariana’s more emotional side, talking of her disliking of the negative media shown of her. This song is one of her best songs, in my opinion.

Jordan: The intro for “fake smile” is a snippet from a 1960’s song about faking laughter. This ties in with Ariana singing about her struggles with fame and scrutiny. The lyrics are more emotional than some of the previous songs on the album and they still show off her vocals nicely. It is more similar to “needy” or “imagine” in feel and isn’t as pop-intensive as “NASA” or “bloodline”. I really enjoy this song.

Sonia: “fake smile” is definitely another more real, emotional track, starting with the 70s style intro that states “after laughter comes tears”. Listeners get a sneak peek into Ariana’s high-profile life, as she reads what the media says about her and is forced to pretend to be happy even when she’s not. But Ariana’s still “grateful…happy for the love,” and we’re grateful for this song.

Track 6: bad idea

Julia: The only enjoyable part of “bad idea” is the chorus, while the rest of the song is extremely insignificant. Although I’ll probably listen to this song again, it doesn’t even compare to some of her better songs on this album, such as “NASA” or “fake smile”.

Jordan: This is definitely my least favorite song we’ve listened to so far. There isn’t much meaning in the lyrics and while it is pretty catchy, I much prefer “NASA” or “bloodline”. It also goes on way too long which I find unnecessary.

Sonia: This song definitely falls into the “middle of the album” syndrome–although it’s not a bad song, it’s boring and forgettable. Definitely the most “pop” song of the whole album, which might be why I’m not into it. I really like the more R&B style that Ariana has been experimenting with lately.

Track 7: make up

Julia: “make up” begins with a very interesting opening beat that really catches your attention. I really enjoy this song, but after a while it gets a little repetitive and unmemorable. It’s not bad in any means, but it definitely won’t be the next “thank u, next”.

Jordan: This song is more positive than some of her others but it is pretty boring. Being in the middle of the album, I know I’m going to forget about it as soon as it’s finished. It does have a nice laid-back feel though and is an easy song to listen to.

Sonia: Although this song is a little more interesting than “bad idea”, and has a catchy chorus, it’s still just a filler song. It didn’t really have any substance to it. Thank u, next!

Track 8: ghostin

Julia: Ariana needs to work on her enunciation. It is very difficult to understand what she is saying, although it is a very calming song (despite its sadness).  Despite this, I do enjoy this emotional piece.

Jordan: This is arguably the most emotional song on her album. “ghostin” is about Ariana being with Pete and feeling bad because she knows she cares more about her ex, Mac Miller. This song showcases beautiful and somewhat haunting vocals and I already know it is going to be one of the more popular ones from the album.

Sonia: Although this song is the slowest song on the album, it is also by far the most emotional. Sampling some of her late ex Mac Miller’s song “2009”, Ariana laments losing her relationship with Mac while being in a relationship with Pete Davidson. While maybe not a song I would listen to on the daily, it’s very calming and heart-wrenching to listen to. Definitely one of my favorites.

Track 9: in my head

Julia: It’s catchy. It feels like a song you would listen to in the car with the windows down. However, it’s one of my least favorite from the album. Although it is bop-material, I don’t love this one.

Jordan: The chorus for this song is my favorite part of it. It is certainly catchy and I like it more than “bad idea” but it does have that similar pop vibe. I’m in agreement with Julia though that this song is easily “bop-able”.

Sonia: For me, this song still blends in to previous songs such as “make up” and “bad idea,” but the meaningful lyrics give “in my head” a step up. However, the chorus won’t leave my head, and I am obsessed with the lyrics, “Look at you, boy/I invented you/Gucci tennis shoes/Running from my issues.”

Track 10: 7 rings

Julia: This song is repetitive and I don’t like that it uses multiple other songs (“Favorite Things” and “Pretty Boy Swag”) to “inspire” the sound of it. The lyrics are stupid also in my opinion.

Jordan: This song was already my least favorite of her three singles she released prior to the album’s release. I have to admit that the lyrics stay in my head but it isn’t a song I would actively seek out to listen to. I have never been a fan of rap music so this song isn’t really in a genre I usually enjoy. It is a fun song though and it has grown on me a bit.

Sonia: Although this song receives a lot of hate, I actually don’t mind it. It’s easy to sing along to, and it’s cool to see Ariana experimenting with different genres. I like the sample of “My Favorite Things,” and while it’s not my favorite on the album, it stands out more than other songs on the middle of the album.

Track 11: thank u, next

Julia: Arguably one of the best songs of 2019, “thank u, next” is a catchy song that almost everyone can bop to. You’ll catch yourself singing along to this one for days. Additionally, her “Mean Girls” themed music video was an incredible production. This song SLAPS.

Jordan: This song (and the music video) are a lot of fun. The lyrics, while uncomplicated, are personal and catchy. I really enjoy this song and it is one of the best ones to listen to while jamming with friends in a car, in my opinion. I haven’t gotten sick of it yet!

Sonia: This is 100% my favorite Ariana Grande song on this album, and in the history of all other Ariana songs. It’s a song that I can’t stop listening to–a fun, light breakup anthem that is so easy to sing along to. In addition to having an iconic music video, the song itself broke boundaries as Ariana’s first #1 Billboard Hot 100 hit, and it’s incredibly easy to see why.

Track 12: break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored

Julia: While I find myself dancing along to this song, it isn’t her most impressive song on her album. It seems almost as an afterthought and isn’t my favorite. However, this song is already very popular and will definitely be hit, especially with its new music video out.

Jordan: My first thought about this is that the title is so long and takes too much time to say. So we’re already starting on a bad foot. I can tell why she is releasing it as another single because it is a catchy and poppy song. Of the pop songs on this album, this is one of the better ones in my opinion. I still prefer the more emotional songs to this though.

Sonia: I feel like “thank u, next” would have been a more fitting ending to this album. This song is catchy, but doesn’t really seem to fit in where it is. In my opinion, NSync, which Ariana sampled on this track, did it much better. It’s not really my cup of tea.

Finals Thoughts:

Julia: Although it pains me to say, I did enjoy Ariana’s “thank u, next” album. I really like the style of music she is heading toward, rather than her extremely pop-like music released in the past. “needy”, “NASA”, and “fake smile” are my top three favorite songs, but I don’t completely hate any of the tracks. Overall, Ariana produced a decent album in such a short period of time. Slowly but surely, Ariana is becoming more and more likeable to me.

Jordan: It’s hard not to compare this album to “Sweetener”. “Sweetener” was much more light-hearted and seemed to be more universal. “thank u, next” seems to be a form of therapy for Ariana after all that she’s gone through recently. Some songs I really like are “imagine”, “needy”, “NASA”, “fake smile”, and “ghostin”. “bad idea”, “makeup”, and “7 rings” are probably my least favorites and aren’t songs I will actively seek out in the future. Overall though, I enjoyed this album and expect it to lead to even more success for Ariana. If you like r&b or pop music, there are songs on this album for you.

Sonia: “thank u, next” is a very therapeutic album for Ariana Grande, and it is definitely more dark and emotional than her previous album, “Sweetener”. Without the artistic touch of “Sweetener” producer Pharrell, there is less of a focus on an experimental music style, which allows room for more honest, in-depth lyrics. The more I listen to this record, the more I appreciate each song on the album, they work together as a whole to tell the story of Ariana’s heartbreak and pain following the recent events in her life. Favorite songs: “ghostin,” “NASA,” “thank u next.” Least favorite songs: “bad idea,” 7 rings”.

Final Rating:

Julia: 3.6/5

Jordan: 3.9/5

Sonia: 4/5

Average: 3.8/5