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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

October 18, 2019   |   Ithaca, NY

Life & Culture

Review: “thank u, next” is shallow and tastelessly underhanded

thank u, next

Republic Records

“Thank u, next,” the latest two-week effort from one of the world’s most popular singers, triumphs in showcasing all the negative parts of who Ariana Grande is and all of the frivolous reasons why she makes music.

The project is only 41 minutes long, yet Grande plays to her talent of slowing down time with her whiny, cringe-inducing vocals, which are carelessly synthesized with an overabundance of autotune and tacky instrumentals.

The first issue with “thank u, next” is the mind behind it, a person void of any sliver of originality or creative curiosity. With such a vast and loyal fan base, it’s no wonder why Grande seems allergic to the thought of producing anything of substance. She discovered long ago the Grande formula, and it’s only worked wonders for her since. By channeling the inner mean girls in her fans with song titles like “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored,” Grande uses pettiness and materialism for her own monetary gain.

The album’s titular single, “thank u, next,” was released Nov. 3 and served as a cautionary warning for what was to come months later. While the song supports an optimistic, hopeful approach to breakups, it also supports the idea that partners are more lessons and confidence boosters than they are people. It is no question that Grande is inspiring through her resilience to tragedy, yet that resilience is hard to appreciate when it becomes a tool to demean others.

Releasing a song about her exes titled “thank u, next” not even two months after Mac Miller’s death is blatantly poor timing. She adds insult to injury with “ghostin,” a track sampling Miller’s “2009” instrumental over lyrics that she explained in a tweet to mean: “Feeling badly because he can tell he can’t compare…and how I should be ghosting him.” Rather than preaching self-love and respect, Grande encourages her fans to hold themselves high above their partners on a pedestal of generous pity and to view them as someone barely worth their time, to begin with. To release “thank u, next” around the same time that Pete Davidson, her most recent ex, is suffering a public and severe depression, only hurts her case. This project continues a common trend in Grande’s music — one where every bit of attention needs to be paid to the sugary beats and glamorous production to avoid realizing that what she’s singing about is neither meaningful nor gratifying.

Grande tells a variety of love stories in “thank u, next,” but it’s sad to see her wasting her remarkable talent on petty tales of heartbreak and woe. Ever since her Nickelodeon days, anyone with ears could tell that she can sing and that she was destined for a career that stretched far beyond the TV shows “Victorious” or “Sam and Cat.” Now that she’s a multiplatinum-selling pop star, Grande would rather smother that talent and suffocate it with a laughable, arbitrary amount of autotune and lazy, repetitive melodies. The tracks are nearly indistinguishable from one another, as she puts forth minimal effort to show that she’s capable of venturing into different sounds, themes or styles. One generic beat leads to the next and provides a comfy cushion for her odd and annoying, vocals.

This is a fleeting, thankfully short-lived journal entry of someone jotting down arrogant compliments about themselves before tearing down the people who were once close to them. Rather than finding a balance between style and substance, Grande sets fire to the latter and chooses a style more tasteless than anything in her entire discography. “Thank u, next” is exactly what one says to themselves after sitting through this excuse of an album. It is a Valentine’s card with a lovely message on the front, and rude, demeaning insults on the inside.