“thank U, Next” By Ariana Grande Review
Late Saturday night, Ariana Grande offered yet another reminder that she is the ponytailed patron saint of grace, light, and sass. On “thank u, next,” the track she released that night, she doesn’t stir the pot about her recent breakup, as the common media narrative might expect; instead she finds the value in letting go. It’s a generosity rarely spotted these days, when it is so much more tempting to clap back with vinegar instead of honey—and after Grande’s rollercoaster of a year, few would blame her for embracing full-on “Shout Out to My Ex”-style spite. But “thank u, next,” despite its kiss-off title, is not about throwing shade or dragging her exes. It’s “jus love, gratitude, acceptance, honesty, forgiveness … and growth,” as Grande clarified in a tweet.
Grande’s kind assessment of the past begins immediately with a run through her romantic timeline, including her highly public relationship with Big Sean and engagement to Pete Davidson, concluding with a devastating ode to the late Mac Miller. These men, with all their imperfections, have shaped her for the better, and now she has enough perspective to thank them. She does so with an already iconic farewell over a subtle, twinkling beat: “Thank you, next/I’m so fuckin’ grateful for my ex.” Then, after demonstrating her newfound serenity, Grande almost gives fans (and TMZ) a conniption when she teases that she’s met someone new, but then reveals that the love she’s found is with herself: “She taught me love/She taught me patience/How she handles pain/That shit’s amazing.” Much like the “one girl swaying alone” twist in Lorde’s “Liability,” it’s an eloquent display of inner strength and incisive self-awareness; “thank u, next” embraces a rare mindset that perhaps not so many people, let alone famous pop stars, grant to their exes. The high road might not be the easiest path, but Grande offers to lead us there by her own example.