Ariana Grande - thank u, next (Review)

Martin_Canine
ARIANA GRANDE
thank u, next
★★★★½

Perfectly glossy pop music with an attitude

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Unlike most pop loving reviewers, I wasn't really enthusiastic about sweetener, Ariana Grande’s beloved 2018 album. I criticized the lack evolution throughout some songs, the weak and slightly disharmonic production, the tone of the chorus sounding nothing like the mood of the verses, the absence of earworm melodies and the singer’s tendency to monotonously rhythmically talk instead of singing. To call it dramatically bad would be a complete overreaction, but in all honesty, it did not live up to her previous material or the other pop albums of the year. Of course, it was a statement that life has to go on in the wake of terror, which is admirable and takes a whole lot of courage, but the listening enjoyment of the CD was far less impressive than everything that happened surrounding its release.

Now, the follow up thank u, next arrives in stores, not even half a year after its predecessor, which isn’t exactly a promising premise to begin with. Then again, a lot has happened between these two albums, most notably the death of her ex-boyfriend Mac Miller. sweetener turned Grande from “that teen pop star” to an artist that was taken seriously as a musician, and naturally, she was expected to express her thoughts musically by the music community. The single thank u, next was released soon to rave reviews and major commercial success, a track that has her appreciating the way that her ex-boyfriends made her the way she is today, strong and wonderful. Apart from being a comment on the situation, it was also a good representation for the album of the same name that was to follow. On it, Ariana Grande wrote and performed some of the best songs of her career.

While its predecessor felt a bit lifeless, stiff and cold, thank u, next is full of life, uplifting and warm - and stuffed to the extreme with sheer pop bliss. Each song is instantly recognizable and has the potential of becoming her next big hit single, the lyrics show the kind of strong female personality reminiscent of the Sugababes, the beats are vivid and - most importantly - very enjoyable. Often they themselves have enough catchiness on their own to carry the song, as on the album’s clear musical highlight, bloodline, where the lush reggae inspired composition provides a nice sound carpet for Grande to work on. Still, her vocals and songwriting are crucial to the record, as she manages to turn grief and serious subject matter into positive energy on several tunes. fake smile is almost guaranteed to become a favorite of the album, as it features some of her more introspective songwriting, dealing with her troubles while still being grateful for everything she has. Grande allows herself to embrace the good sides of life even when hers is at a state where others would crumble. What a strong woman. Not only does she turn lemons to lemonade like a pro, she also adds some extra sugar on top. 7 rings re-interprets The Sound of Music as a self esteem boost that has the singer enjoying her ability to get all of her favorite things, while break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored is a fun soap opera about jealousy.

thank u, next is more conventional and straightforward in its idea of pop music than sweetener, but gets as much out of it as possible. One infectious hook follows the next, one light Katy Perry-esque beat comes on top of another. That makes for a better and easier listening experience, that has the advantage of inviting Grande to chant along with it and showing off that she still has the charismatic vocals that made her shine on Bang Bang. When sweetener was a record of fillers (exception: no tears left to cry), thank u, next feels like a full best of compilation, 12 awesome pop songs on one disc.

Comments

Ariana is a very mediocre artist - iliekpiez

She's a conventional pop artist (in contrast to the more experimental, artsy pop that Beyoncé and Rihanna make) who has a good voice and delivers earworms. On this album particularly, she additionally gets more personal. Within her premise, what could she do better? "sweetener" to me wasn't as good as most of the songs didn't leave a lasting impression. - Martin_Canine

Lol almost everyone on the site hates this album except me because I like this album. - AlphaQ

I don't get where the general consensus of this site comes from most of the time. Like... everybody on any other site as well as critics praise this. However, most users on TTT collectively decide it's not good. It's not that individual opinions were like this, but it has become an acknowledged consensus. This happened several times with albums and artists. And so far, nobody could tell me how it could have been made better within its genre of late 2010s pop.

When I heard "Sweetener" last year, I initially didn't like it, but I think I gave a good explanation why. Since then, I grew to enjoy it more, although I still consider it one of her weaker works. - Martin_Canine

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