thank u, next
written by Jasmine Boothe
Why Ariana Grande’s ‘thank u, next” is an iconic movement not just for herself, but for all women
Since Ariana Grande’s debut song “The Way” to “thank u, next”, this present moment in her career is definitely flourishing and she now has her first Grammy to prove it. Dropping “thank u, next” unexpectedly after the thread of Twitter posts that spurred massive attention towards her personal life and love affairs, the long used phrase by the pop star soon became the title of her fifth No. 1 on Billboards 12 track album on redemption and self love.
thank u, next not thank you, next
The grace in those 3 words does all the glorifying empowerment of goodbyes with an unwavering vow of finality.
Starting with the title of the album itself thank u, next is a statement, a response, an end all. It has the class of acknowledgment, the grace and emphasis on the comma and the drama free “next” dismissing this current chapter in time. thank u, next began as an expression Ari and her friends, namely co-songwriter Victoria Monet for one, always used, is now rightfully so, an anthem to female empowerment.
The success of the song is not just in it’s all telling lyrics, but the overall timing of its release. At a time when the media was anticipating a bitter breakup diss track, Ariana, as I personally believe she always does, put it all in the music and sung it with grace. Starting out the song with the names of all her exes right away begins an honest, not so bitter telling of their ends.
Sean wasn’t the one. Ricky was tons of fun. Pete was a blessing during a time she needed someone the most and Malcom was and always will be a blessing.
Even as she sings it, you can tell she has long rationalized and come to terms with each of these men in a matter of fact way, void of emotional hurt. She takes the lessons of her past lovers and uses it as her art with a new understanding of self.
“I've loved and I've lost (yeah, yeah)
But that's not what I see (yeah, yeah)
'Cause look what I've found (yeah, yeah)
Ain't no need for searching, and for that, I say
Thank you, next”
For me, I think that’s the most iconic message throughout this song and album. It’s all filled with so much love with no sarcasm or hate. And because of that, I count this as the most mature approach to a post-love love song. Her romantic encounters went far beyond pain and happiness. It makes its way towards proclaimed self-actualization and appreciation for all that occurred, both good and bad.
“And for that, I say, thank you, next”
To bravely look the past in the face and say thank you, that’s a strength in itself, a narrative rarely actualized by the victims of a love lost. And when she belts out
“I’m so fuckin grateful for my ex”
it can be read with a sarcastic and bitter undertone, but when you hear it in tune, you know, she feels nothing but gratitude.
thank u, next + 7 Rings
“Spend more time with my friends
I ain’t worried bout nothin’”
Another reason I love this “thank u, next” movement is the championing of really enjoying having fun and being with the people you love-in a platonic way! Without saying or thinking man I wish I had someone to go home to, or only embracing my friends only in this moment of my singlehood. She is authentically enjoying and loving her friends despite all that, without a care. And she’s genuinely so good with that.
Through “7 rings”💍 Ariana Grande solidifies that commitment. Literally gifting engagement rings to “6 of her bitches” a.k.a. her closest girlfriends.
Again, beautifully empowering to remove the stigma and expectation of marriage from a female and instead sharing her wealth and commitment with her friends, who like lovers, stick by her side through the good times and the bad. Taking away the traditional notion of a man taking care of a woman, Ari is like “nah I’m good, I have enough to provide for myself.”
“Both his and hers, I want it, I got it, yeah”
And forget that double his and her closet, I’m taking it all.
Literally taking all the mental and physical space for relationships and marriage out of the mind and fully embracing being a single individual with power and no regrets.
“Wearing a ring, but ain't gon' be no "Mrs." 🎶
Just seeing “7 rings” video for the first time, I was like, wow, Ariana broke, but in the best way possible! It was different, it was spunky. It was catchy, brave and just plain fun.
No baggage attached.
thank u, next + Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored
“Cause her name is Ari, and I’m so good with that”
Personifying herself as another individual into which she is now in a relationship with, is yet again a statement to claim and take responsibility for herself. Alluding to this in “Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored” it’s saying no, I want her/me all to myself. Not because I need to heal, but because she is fucking amazing.
And yet she never dismisses the possibility to love again.
thank u, next + all other tracks to the album
“One day I’ll walk down the aisle, holding hands with my mama”
That is nothing but brave. Yeah she’s been through all that, but she won’t hold back her future because of it.
imagine + ghostin
Beautiful love melodies heavy with emotions and memories.
“imagine” & “ghostin” portray the best times of a love that is no longer present but ones that she will be able to reside in her always. Through the high notes and harmonic tones, it has all the power of a woman who has loved, immensely. She says it all, admitting the highs and lows of her love life. Who she was and who she has become. It is so honest. And soulful, yet raw. Her spirit is free.
And MONOPOLY portrays that unforgiving, “I’m still here but self preservation is definitely a thing” type vibe.
“Real protective with my soul, where you been?”
Ariana take pride in the hustle and grind she has since delved into. It’s great to have something to show, what came out of all the darkness, but like many who have been through rough times, we choose to ride life in this fast car, afraid of stopping because of what we will be confronted with when you reach the red light.
But in the meantime, Ariana Grande chooses to shine ✨
The very freeing essence of the whole “thank u, next” album is just like ‘yuh imma just put this out, I was working on it anyway. Not because I needed to, but because I wanted to, but also because I needed to, feel me. So let’s just see how this goes.’ And that ‘let me just drop this song’ mentality Ariana Grande has been embracing is definitely the spontaneity that has been missing in the mainstream music scene.
It’s unstaged, raw and honest tales of her life.
And that’s what being an artist, and music, is all about.