September 28, 2023

Less than six months after her last album, “Sweetener” (2018), Ariana Grande released her newest album, “thank u, next”, Feb. 8.

Since its release, the American singer’s album debuted atop the Billboard 100 and broke the streaming record for largest opening week for a pop album — a record previously held by Ed Sheeran’s “divide” (2017).

Whether or not someone is a fan of Grande, it is undeniable that she has released great music over the last few years — all while facing significant trauma.

In 2017, 22 of Grande’s concert attendees were killed in a suicide bombing at Manchester Arena in Britain. Then in September 2018, Malcolm James McCormick, known professionally as Mac Miller, rapper and singer, known to be Grande’s former partner, died after an accidental drug overdose.

She also recently broke off her engagement with Pete Davidson, American comedian and actor.

While she could have let all of this deter her from making more music, Grande persisted. She now has the greatest number of monthly listens on Spotify and continues to break records on the Billboard top-100 list.

Kaitlyn Merced, sophomore communication studies major, said these events have clearly shaped the sound of this album.

“You can 100 percent tell those events influenced her music just by listening to her lyrics,” Merced said. “There’s a lot more pain and emotion in her newer music and it’s definitely from those events. You can tell she writes more from her real-life experiences now.”

Erin Gilmore, sophomore liberal studies major, said she is a more casual fan.

“If it’s catchy, I like it,” Gilmore said. ‘7 rings’ is my favorite song on the new album. My little sister introduced me to it.”

Evangeline “Vangie” Gunn, commercial voice director, said while it is impressive that the new album was released so quickly, the production itself probably was not too hard.

“It’s mostly programmed so there’s not a lot of live musicians. Her producer and her songwriters get around a computer and program all of her sounds. Her producers are well-versed in this and they can spit that stuff out in literally two days,” Gunn said.

Gunn said this is something that will become a trend in the music industry.

“It’s really crucial in this social media age. The music industry, in terms of record sales, is changing so much,” Gunn said. “You have to keep new stuff in front of your audience all the time. With Grande’s music, it’s just a matter of coming up with a hook, a beat and a melody that is catchy for her audience.”

Gunn said that is the biggest reason behind the single for which the whole album is named, “thank u, next.”

“That hook is brilliant; it catches you,” Gunn said.

Whether they are casual fans or hardcore “stans,” many people agree that “thank u, next” is incredibly fun and will be a staple in everyone’s summer playlist.

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