If you’ve paid any attention to pop culture over the last few months, then you know the presence Ariana Grande has. Her career has skyrocketed over the last few years, and she’s truly become pop’s modern queen. Though her last effort, 2018’s Sweetener didn’t quite make the cut, Grande has come back with a vengeance, and only eight months later. Ariana Grande follows Sweetener up with a much more cohesive, effective effort in thank u, next.
There’s a little bit of everything in thank u, next that continues to extend Grande’s realm of possibilities. Sweetener saw more elements of trap and hip-hop come into play, while thank u, next has more of an emphasis on Grande’s signature pop flair. Opening track ‘imagine‘ introduces the record sweetly, the subtle track building with wonderful orchestras and atmosphere to really create a gentle and loving atmosphere. The album’s beginning explores these atmospheres thoroughly: ‘needy‘ dishes out a more breathy pop style, while ‘NASA‘ is a cute little bop that you can’t help but love (the playful wordplay really helps the tracks infectious nature). There are plenty of these lowkey pop tracks throughout thank u, next, though not all of them make a huge splash. Title track ‘thank u, next‘ is a pretty average song at best, with a nice overall vibe but little to show for it otherwise (especially in context of the record, where many tracks articulate the same feelings in more effective ways), while other tracks like ‘in my head‘ just come and go without leaving much of a mark.
While Grande certainly knows how to maintain her core sound, she doesn’t step away from changing things up. thank u, next isn’t as direct an experiment as her previous record was, yet the diversity between tracks feels much more smooth. ‘bloodline‘ is the first track to make a splash, its punchiness and drive immediately making it stand out after three pretty mellow tracks open the record. The melodies are dark and the instrumental suitingly so as well, with a cool ending that features effected vocals and some cool audio effects as well. When Ariana gets moody, she nails it: ‘fake smile‘ is another good example, its dark melodies and groovy instrumental making it a standout track on the record. The haunting atmosphere of ‘ghostin‘ adds more color to the record as it goes, before closing track ‘break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored‘ ends things off with a fun note. The only song that really misses the mark is ‘7 rings,’ which wholly just feels like it sends the wrong message in every regard. Even the song’s trap elements don’t add anything to it.
Pop is a competitive game, but Ariana Grande never has to worry about falling from grace. In her new album thank u, next, Ariana Grande sounds more focussed and directed than ever while offering familiar yet diverse tracks. It’s an overall more cohesive project than Sweetener was, and though not a perfect record, it’s refreshing to see a popular face daring enough to change things up.
Favorite Tracks: bloodline, NASA, fake smile
Least Favorite Track: 7 rings
Rating: 76 / 100
Stream or buy thank u, next on Apple Music, and follow our 2019 Playlist on Spotify: