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‘Eternal Sunshine’ has something to say about the myth of eternal love

After+a+near-four-year+hiatus%2C+Ariana+Grande+released+her+seventh+studio+album+on+March+8%2C+2024.+
Courtesy of Republic Records
After a near-four-year hiatus, Ariana Grande released her seventh studio album on March 8, 2024.
4.5 out of 5.0 stars

Ariana Grande balances vulnerability with confidence on her seventh studio album, “Eternal Sunshine.” This emotional and fun pop project, released March 8,  showcases Grande’s artistry at a new level, as she co-produced every single track and self-wrote the lyrics on six of the 13 songs on the project, both things she has never done before. 

Production wise, overall Grande steps into a pop and R&B genre blend that steps away from the trap-based tracks that dominated some of her most popular works, like “Sweetener” and “thank you, next.” Although “Eternal Sunshine,” sounds like a blend of all of Grande’s previous releases, the more complex, dance-infused production makes the album standout. 

Grande’s diction is at the best she has ever shown, vastly different from her tendency to slur her words in earlier works, like in “Jason’s Song (Gave It Away)” released on the Japanese and Target editions of her album “Dangerous Woman.”

While Grande traditionally dabbles in one-and-done stories in her projects, “Eternal Sunshine”’s track list takes listeners through a journey of the ending of a one love story and developing hope for love in the future. The project is inspired by the 2004 film, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” about a broken up couple, Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet), trying to forget one another. 

The album starts with a question in “intro (end of the world)” regarding analyzing one’s relationship and concludes with an answer developed in “ordinary things.” This cohesive theme is reflective of Grande’s growth as an artist that occurred over her near-four-year hiatus from releasing music. 

Grande released two singles before dropping the album. The initial intro to this project was the Billboard Hot 100 number one house-influenced hit “yes, and?,” a week after its release on Jan. 12. The song was a response to critics of Grande’s personal life. Lyrically, the song encourages listeners to protect their peace while also teasingly addressing allegations surrounding her romantic life, like the rumored home wrecking incident with “Wicked” co-star Ethan Slater. The track is catchy and a grower, initially seeming surface level and shallow, but becoming important, meaningful and less gitchy in the context of the complete project, as it blends into the album’s narrative.

“My tongue is sacred, I speak upon what I like / Protected, sexy, discerning with my time (my time) / Your energy is yours and mine is mine,” Grande sings with a quiet confidence during “yes, and?”’s bridge, seemingly nodding toward her reason for remaining quiet about rumors surrounding her. 

The second single of the album is the bittersweet “we can’t be friends (wait for your love).” Although both the aforementioned track and this song served to develop the world being built on the album, this ‘80s synth pop-R&B track is the clear highlight. Grande allows her heart to guide the record’s story about letting go of a gradually dying and increasingly toxic relationship. The song’s synth-infused production allows the track to be irresistible to dance to, while simultaneously letting the lyrics showcase the emotional weight of the cautionary tale Grande sings about. The album’s tenth track, “we can’t be friends (wait for your love)” sonically and thematically is more reflective of the album overall. 

When a listener first embarks on this musical journey, they are met with an intro track similar to the short under-two-minute introductions that she has given on some of her previous projects, such as on “Sweetener” and “My Everything” with the opening track “intro (end of the world).” Grande’s intro track often helps to set the tone to her projects, and the sleek electric guitar and low-key vibe sets highlights how modern R&B will be taking a more central role in the project. The song does not overstay its welcome and is groovy and cute. 

Grande is brutally honest about the bad parts of her previous relationship in the heartbreaking song “don’t wanna break up again.” The song features a sensual bass and soft chimes. The smooth production accompanies the melancholic nature of the song’s lyrics nicely. 

I made it so easy / Spent so much on therapy / Blamed my own co-dependency / But you didn’t even try / When you finally did, it was at the wrong time / Won’t abandon me again for you and I,” Grande sings about an unreliable partner.

Fans of Grande’s older works might enjoy tracks “the boy is mine” and “true story.” Both songs contain the sass and confidence of many of her previous songs, such as “shut up” from “Positions” and “Break Your Heart Right Back” which is on “My Everything.” Overwhelmingly, a self-reflective approach is utilized on the album, but Grande’s sarcasm shines through in the lyrics of these two pieces. 

If one was hoping for an album full of clap backs and drama after the snarky, yet sweet “yes, and?”, this album might not be for you. But if a listener is interested in experiencing a new side of Grande and her musical talent, “Eternal Sunshine” is an album that is sure to satisfy. Furthermore, the vulnerability that oozes from this project is captivating and magnetic, something that can enhance a listeners’ connection to Grande. 

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