ariana grande

Grande settles into an R&B style on her latest album.

As she continues to hit the top of multiple charts, Ariana Grande released her newest album “thank u, next” Friday. It became the No. 1 album in less than 24 hours on iTunes.

“thank u, next” is different than Grande’s other albums. Although Grande usually doesn’t include explicit content due to a young fanbase, this album contains nine of 12 songs with an explicit categorization. While her other albums are mostly about getting together with a guy, falling in love and having more joyful messages, on this record, Grande has mostly breakup songs and continuously mentions that she’s recently been through difficult times.

In addition, most of the songs have more of an R&B feel and it seems as if she’s trying to go in that direction. Grande surrounds herself with rap and R&B artists who influence her, but it’s almost as if she’s trying too hard to portray that type of musician.

The first song is “imagine,” released on Dec. 14 as a single. Grande confirmed it’s a tribute to Mac Miller and explained to her fans that the song is about feeling as if a relationship never ended. She also called it a song about denial, which could be her way of trying to deny Miller’s death. “imagine” has a smooth rhythm and calming tone in her vocals that add an emotional feel to the song.

“fake smile” is a personal song about Grande being finished with faking her positive emotions. The song starts with two lines from Wendy Rene’s hit song “After Laughter [Comes Tears],” which was produced in the ’60s. This has a mysterious beat to it and provided a cool addition to the song. Over the past three years, Grande has had to deal with many negative events such as the Manchester attack, the death of Miller and her recent breakup with Pete Davidson. In the pre-chorus, she sings, “I can't fake another smile / I can't fake like I'm alright / And I won't say I'm feeling fine / After what I been through, I can't lie.” The song has a careless and rebellious message mixed with a confident tone in her voice for coming clean to her fans of the way she’s really been feeling.

“bloodline” is a sassy type of breakup song. It opens with a quote from Grande’s grandmother, Marjorie Grande. “bloodline” has a nice R&B beat with interesting trumpet solos as well. Some parts of the song begin to show the power in her voice, but not in the same way as her older songs. She summarized the song by tweeting “wanting somebody but not enough to have them in your bloodline ksjskjskj.” At one point, she sings, “I ain’t looking for my one true love / Yeah, that ship sailed away.”

Another song on the album is “NASA.” She rephrased Neil Armstrong’s iconic quote, “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” to “One small step for woman, one giant leap for womankind.” The song is her way of stating she needs space from a boyfriend and even states, “It’s like I’m the universe and you’ll be N-A-S-A.”

This album also has the tracks “thank u, next” and “7 rings,” which have been on multiple charts for weeks and continue to be popular. “thank u, next” is a song about the different guys she’s dated in the past and how each breakup strengthened her. It’s a personal song to Grande and gives fans the truth of what happened with her relationship. “7 rings” is more of a fun song about Grande spoiling her friends because of how rich she is. The song portrays a day when Grande and her friends went on a shopping spree at Tiffany & Co.’s jewelry store and bought seven matching rings.

“thank you, next” is Grande’s sixth album and much deeper than her other works. Most of the songs involve breaking up, the various difficulties she’s been going through and how she’s been dealing with them. Not a lot of these songs show off her powerful voice like in previous tracks and singles, which is a shame. This was a good album, but not her best effort overall.

Contact Gracie Brogowski at brogowsx@dukes.jmu.edu. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.