Ariana Grande is one of the most exposed and open celebrities of our generation and is not afraid to share things about her personal life with the entire world. That's part of her appeal and why she has millions of adoring fans. Arianators have seen her transition from cookie-cutter Nickelodeon star to a bad bitch that gives exactly zero fucks. She kept the high ponytail, though.
thank u, next was released just shy of six months after her ultra-hyped sweetener, which, at the time, was her best collection of songs. Surprisingly enough, the album has topped that and she didn't even need Pharrell behind the boards this time. Her fifth album in just six years is easily her most outstanding and how she pulled that off essentially overnight is astonishing. Only truly talented artists can pull off such a feat, but mega-hit producers like Tommy Brown, Ilya Salmanzadeh, and Max Martin deserve partial credit for helping her get there. Bonus points to the latter two for successfully interpolating *NSYNC's "It Makes Me Ill" on the last track of the album.
The album has no detectable weak link. It's a string of solid knockouts, each with its own distinct theme that all come together in the end, in which Grande tells her fans, "I'm doing just fine." There's also a sense of intense buildup as the album progresses. It begins with the singer in a vulnerable state and she quickly flips on the "sex" switch. A switch she kind of tapped on Dangerous Woman, but now she's crooning about make up sex, friends with benefits, and stealing your man. Also, not only is she perfectly hitting whistle notes that would put Mariah to shame, but she's delivering bars and singing over trunk-rattling trap beats like she's the female Post Malone.
She's completely changed the definition of what a "pop star" is supposed to be and has been using a hip-hop mentality to promote this album, which has been extraordinary to watch unfold in real time. Grande gave thank u, next the sort-of mixtape treatment where she'd drop singles when she felt like it and released the full project in a very short amount of time. However, in her case, it has turned into her best effort and has only exponentially increased her star power. ★★★★½
Key Tracks: "7 rings" | "fake smile" | "needy"
★★★★★ Classic | ★★★★ Excellent | ★★★ Good | ★★ Fair | ★ Poor
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