07 10

Ariana Grande thank u, next Republic

In 2018, Ariana Grande’s highly acclaimed fourth album Sweetener proved to be a career-defining milestone. And barely six months later, here’s thank u, next, a record that comes off the back of an enormous eponymous single and continues Grande’s path to total pop dominance, albeit at the cost of some of her most interesting traits.

Grande’s songs are like Instagram posts – they’re diaristic, introspective, but filtered and controlled, letting you see enough to give an air of authenticity but never too much as to appear messy. Sweetener felt novel in this approach, and thank u, next retains some of that magic. But its songs are simpler, less layered and easier to digest.

fake smile, an IDGAF anthem about personal empowerment, seems almost put-on, posturing for likes instead of digging deeper. However, tracks like imagine graze the clouds of pop heaven, Grande’s flawless vocals as close to classic-era Mariah as they’ve ever been. Breakup song bloodline uses a ska-tinged horn riff and acidic lyrics to impressive effect. thank u, next may lack some of the bleeding heart and zeitgeist-arresting power of Sweetener, but with this broad and biting follow-up release, Ari’s crown remains secure and her throne unrivalled.