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A “thank u, next” Album Review, You’re Welcome

Following the release of Ariana Grande’s fifth studio album, “thank u, next,” she’s received conflicting feedback. On social media, Grande is both highly praised and harshly criticized. These responses come after a tumultuous year for the artist, who reflects much of her personal life in her music.

Comparing her debut album “Yours Truly” to “thank u, next,” Grande’s song titles evolved from “Honeymoon Avenue” to “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored.” Besides her apparent new dislike for capitalizing titles, this album showcases a fresh side of Grande, one that addresses love almost cynically.

PLNU sophomore Mackenzie Carlson says the album is “More honest, more personal, less scripted and less bland. Her songs have a story now rather than being repetitive pop songs that blend in with most top 40.”

Since last May, this is the second album Grande released during challenging experiences in her personal life. On May 22, 2017, a suicide bombing attack occurred at her concert in Manchester, United Kingdom. In November, she ended her whirlwind engagement to Pete Davidson following the September death of her ex-boyfriend Mac Miller.

In the midst of all this, on August 17, 2018, Grande released her fourth studio album, “Sweetener,” which resulted in her first Grammy for best pop vocal album last week. On February 8, 2019, “thank u, next” was released, climbing to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. According to Billboard, this is the biggest streaming in a week for a pop album. This marks Grande’s fourth No. 1 album and her second in the last six months.  

Several songs on her latest album have received backlash. Her song “7 rings” is being compared to multiple other songs, with rappers Soulja Boy and Princess Nokia claiming that Grande stole it. The line “You like my hair? Gee, thanks, just bought it…” is a controversial topic on social media, with many accusing Grande of racially-charged lyrics. Additionally, the song has been critiqued for its references to Grande’s excessively wealthy lifestyle. Despite these concerns, “7 rings” broke the Spotify record for the most streams in 24 hours, with almost 15 million streams, according to E! News.

Another song on the album, “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored” is drawing in conflicting reviews on social media. Some find it funny, others find it disrespectful.

Sophomore Emily Salas says, “It’s a good song, but what kind of message does it send?”

Sophomore Katelyn Brechtel puts it simply: “It’s funny but, like, don’t actually do that,” she says.

Although reactions are mixed, her songs and the album itself aren’t budging from the top of Billboard’s ranks. At age 25, Grande has seen both extraordinary success and tragic heartbreak. Her album “thank u, next” not only reflects this but also provides a drastic shift in her approach as a musical artist. So the question is, what’s next?

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Rebecca Elliott

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