Less than six months since Sweetener, Ariana Grande is already back with a new album. You know what that means: it's time to decode.
On the heels of heartbreak and a big breakup, the six-time Grammy-nominated songstress dropped her latest work, Thank U, Next, at midnight on Friday, giving fans 12 fresh tracks to go into the weekend with.
While Sweetener was, well, sweet as Grande serenaded fans with melodies about falling in love and reaping success, this latest installment to her discography breaks down some of the fantasy for a closer look at the cracks.
Whether it be "Fake Smile," where the songstress admits to putting on a front to deal with speculation about her, to "Ghostin,'" a track about not being able to shake a lost love—while your current love suffers—the star was not afraid to get raw. Allow us to break it all down:
To start, "Needy" is a self-reflective song for Grande, who admits that she's "a lil' messed up/But I can hide it when I'm all dressed up/I'm obsessive and I love too hard/Good at overthinking with my heart/How you even think it got this far, this far?"
The line is perhaps a nod to her speedy engagement to Pete Davidson. She attributes some of her behavior to past traumas. "Sorry if I'm up and down a lot/Sorry that I think I'm not enough/And sorry if I say sorry way too much/You can go ahead and call me selfish/But after all this damage, I can't help it," she sings.
Returning to a bit of the space theme she explored on her last album with "Breathin'" and "Better Off," Grande uses track "NASA" as an anthem of independence as she sings about wanting space from her lover.
"Baby, I can't really miss you if I'm with you/And when I miss you, it'll change the way I kiss you/Baby, you know time apart is beneficial/It's like I'm the universe and you'll be N-A-S-A," the lyrics read.
In a metaphorical sense, she also possibly compares herself to space because there are parts of her her partner (compared to NASA) hasn't explored or doesn't understand. "You don't wanna leave me, but I'm tryna self-discover/Keep me in your orbit and you know you'll drag me under," she adds.
On "Bloodline," Grande potentially references Davidson again, particularly regarding the touchy aftermath of their breakup. The title also seems to be connected to Davidson, with whom she was going to marry and perhaps start a family.
"Don't want you in my bloodline, yeah/Just wanna have a good time, yeah/And no need to apologize, no/But you gon' have to let this shit go/Don't want you in my bloodline, yeah/Not tryna make you all mine, yeah/And no need to apologize, no/But you gon' have to let this shit go, yeah," the song goes.
From the sound of the song, she's telling a lover things are over. "No, we won't be talking the next day/I ain't got nothin' to say (Yeah, nah)/I ain't lookin' for my one true love/Yeah, that ship sailed away," she sings.
She also questions whether he's as in love with her as he claims. "Get it like you love me/But you don't, boy, it's just for show."
In "Bad Idea," Grande sings about using someone else to get over a love. "Yeah, I'ma call you over here to numb the pain (Are you done?)/I got a bad idea (Uh-huh)/Forget about it, yeah, forget about him, yeah/Forget about me," the song goes. "But, boy, don't trip (Don't trip), you know this isn't real/You should know I'm temporary."
A similar theme emerges on "Ghostin,'" on which she sings about suffering through the loss of a love while it affects her current partner, an obvious reference to the sudden and tragic death of her ex-boyfriend Mac Miller while she was engaged to Davidson.
"Baby, you do it so well/You been so understanding, you been so good/And I'm puttin' you through more than one ever should/And I'm hating myself 'cause you don't want to/Admit that it hurts you."
She uses the modern phrase, "ghosting"—the act of suddenly cutting off communication with someone without warning—in regard to both the sudden loss of Miller and how he still haunts her.
"I know that it breaks your heart when I cry again/Over him, mmh/I know that it breaks your heart when I cry again/'Stead of ghostin' him," the song continues. "Though I wish he were here instead/Don't want that living in your head/He just comes to visit me/When I'm dreaming every now and then (And then)."
"In My Head" sounds like further commentary on her relationship with Davidson as she sings about essentially creating a man in her mind that didn't really exist.
"Yeah, look at you, boy, I invented you/Your Gucci tennis shoes, runnin' from your issues/Cardio good for the heart (For the heart, for the heart)/I figure we can work it out, hmm," she sings. "Painted a picture; I thought I drew you well/I had a vision of seeing what isn't there/Caught in the moment, tangled up in your sheets/When you broke my heart, said you only wanted half of me."
Ultimately, her man is not how she saw him to be. "Wanted you to grow, but, boy, you wasn't budding/Everything you are made you everything you aren't/I saw your potential without seein' credentials/Maybe that's the issue (Yeah, yeah)/Said maybe that's the issue, ah/Can't hold that shit against you, ah/Yes, I did it to myself, yeah/Thought you were somebody else."
Thank U, Next is available now.