By Colby Tortorici
Hello everyone, and welcome to another edition of Colby’s Corner. In this edition, I am taking a look at the newest album from pop sensation Ariana Grande, Thank U, Next (stylized in lower case), I hope you enjoy it.
With the release of Thank U, Next, Ariana Grande is at the peak of her career. Launching with the global smash hit, title track, Thank U, Next, the album was conceived and released within the timespan of under six months. Following on the heels of the successful album Sweetener, Grande’s newest album was formed in a time of career success and personal turmoil. The 12-track album explores relationships with both herself and others in a very personal way.
The path to Thank U, Next, is something that is uncommon in the pop landscape — a 6-month production cycle. The entire career of a pop star is something that is heavily produced.
An era ends, there is a minimum of one year without music or news from the singer, and then, a single emerges, along with a massive promotional campaign. From there, details of the album slowly emerge, and after a few promotional singles are released, we get the album. An era will last 1-2 years, followed by radio silence from the star. It is all carefully planned out, which is something the hip-hop scene doesn't follow. In hip-hop, music is released when the artist wants; it isn't dictated by age-old traditions, which, I think, is a leading factor in pop's decline and hip-hop's rise to the top. With Thank U, Next, Ariana Grande shed the pop standards she's been held to, instead opting to release a new album only six months after its predecessor, Sweetener. It's a bold move in a pop field that has been somewhat stagnant, but with a #1 debut on lock, and predictions that haven't stopped rising, it's working.
Similar to its rollout, Thank U, Next, is a sonically low-key album. The concise set stays largely upbeat and pop-centric. While nothing is either lyrically or sonically boundary-breaking, it manages to feel both current and stand out from today's radio landscape. It stays interesting throughout its runtime; no two songs sound similar enough to be repetitive. Songs like "Bloodline" and "Bad Idea" feature booming instrumental tracks that couple with Grande’s vocals, while songs like "Fake Smile" and "Break up with Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored" manage to highlight both a laid back vocal and instrumental track. Lyrically, most of the album centers around relationships, with much of it being centered on self-love. This is Grande’s first album in which she’s received writing credits for every track, and the personal touch of every song drives this home.
The album comes from Grande, that much is obvious. It sounds the most personal of any of her previous works. In particular, "ghostin" goes deep to explain her relationship with Pete Davidson and the death of former boyfriend Mac Miller, going so far as to sample a song by the latter. It is by far the most personal and down-tempo track on the album and takes the time to delve deep on a sensitive subject to the singer. Even amongst the up-tempo tracks of the album, this track slots in very well, as each song feels like it belongs on the album.
Powerful, cohesive and above all, enjoyable. Thank U, Next is one of Ariana Grande’s best album to date. While nothing on the set is groundbreaking, all of it is done well.
It has the up-tempo staples of Grande’s past hits, while also featuring down-tempo, introspective looks at where the singer was at during the creation of this album. No track feels like it doesn’t belong, the album flows in a cohesive way that makes it an easy listen.
Thank U, Next is the most personal and powerful album that Ariana Grande has delivered so far in her career. It sets out to prove that the singer has more to offer than what some of the public may perceive. At the same time, it is also a testament to the fact that the age-old traditions that pop music has followed aren’t necessary to deliver a solid product that is both personally and critically fulfilling and commercially successful.