Less than six months after dropping her fourth studio album, Sweetener, Ariana Grande is back at it again, with a new collection of pop anthems about life, love, loss and everything in between.
The 25-year-old singer dropped Thank U, Next on Thursday night, gifting fans with 10 new tracks — in addition to the already-released singles “Thank U, Next,”“7 Rings” and “Imagine.” And while there’s sure to be plenty of speculation on who and what each of the songs is “really” about, let’s first take a moment to celebrate the ode to Ari’s independence that began with the album’s title track.
Sweetener was a long-gestating album for Grande, as she came off a long relationship with late rapper Mac Miller, and dove into the midst of her whirlwind romance with SNL star Pete Davidson. Thank U, Next — which came together in just a few months — starts a new chapter for the young star, one that focuses on loving herself first and recognizing that self care might be the biggest secret to successful relationships.
So with that in mind, here are eight of our favorite moments from Thank U, Next, the album:
1. That “Bloodline” chorus for when things are getting a lil’ too serious, a lil’ too quick.
“Bloodline” is one of the album’s biggest new bangers, from the poppy horns to the catchy “love you, thank you, leave me” in the hook. But the song’s biggest jab hits when the chorus does, as Ari croons, “Don’t want you in my bloodline / Just wanna have a good time.” It’s a bit of an about face from someone who got engaged to Davidson just a few weeks after the pair went public with their relationship, but it feel like a healthy one — and you can’t deny it’s catchy as hell.
2. Those self-aware digs in “In My Head.”
“In My Head” and “Ghostin” are likely to be the two tracks that lead to the most fan speculation about the specters of Ari’s relationships past. And while, yes, there are probably photos of several of the singer’s exes sporting Gucci tennis shoes, “In My Head” is really about having your heart broken by your own expectations. As Ari’s bestie Doug Middlebrook cautions at the top of the track, “The only thing you can fix is yourself.” Plus, the bass bangs.
3. That moment when you need so much space you call on “NASA.”
We’re always here for some creative wordplay, and “NASA” takes the concept of “needing space” to literally another level, as Ari warns an overbearing suitor, “You know I’m a star / I’ma need space.” It’s maybe the sweetest way to tell someone to get gone, and you will be singing “N-A-S-A” to yourself for hours after listening.
4. The anthem for when you finally give up on a “Fake Smile.”
Ari takes a moment to be full-on fed up on “Fake Smile,” which opens with a sample of Wendy Rene’s “After Laughter,” and takes aim at the celebrity culture that forces a star of her caliber to paint on a positive grin even during some of life’s hardest moments. “I’m happy for the love and all of the above / If I’m being honest, I done been through way too much,” she sings, channeling some understandable attitude through raw vocals and a catchy beat.
5. That Rihanna shout out on “Make Up.”
While the Navy eagerly anticipates new music from Queen RiRi, Ari gives her fellow chart queen some props for her other business ventures on “Make Up,” singing, “Highlight of my life, just like that Fenty Beauty kit.” Go ‘head, ruin her makeup, she’s probably gonna get some freebies as a thank you.
6. The entirety of “Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored.”
A late addition to the album, and another track sure to get the wheels of fan speculation spinning at high speeds, “BUWYGIB” is another show of savage self-awareness combined with a healthy dose of selfishness, closing the album out just as Ari sinks her claws into whatever comes next. Plus, it samples a perennially underappreciated *NSYNC track, “It Makes Me Ill,” so, aces all around.
7. That “7 Rings” hook you’re still singing to yourself.
I SEE IT. I LIKE IT. I WANT IT. I GOT IT.
8. And, of course, the song that started it all: “Thank U, Next.”
By her own account, Ari was planning on taking a break from music following Miller’s death. But it seems her split from Davidson inspired a whole new wave of creativity, starting, of course, with “Thank U, Next,” which shouted out her famous exes while also declaring her new devotion to loving herself and putting her own well being above all. We’re still so f***ing grateful for this track.
Shortly after the release, Ariana took to Twitter to share some love with her fans, and said she hopes they enjoy all the new music.