Why Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next” is the Breakup Anthem of the Year

by Jasleen Munsalud

One of the most influential artists in the world, Ariana Grande, dropped the single “thank u, next” without warning on Saturday, Nov.3. There was no campaign or marketing done to promote the release of the new pop song, but it’s safe to say the world didn’t mind. With this song, Grande broke Spotify’s global streaming record for a female artist in a single day, earning nearly 8.2 million streams. “thank u, next” continues to be streamed heavily since its release, climbing up to over 40 million streams in less than a week. With these unheard of streaming stats, the song has now reached #1 on both global and U.S. Spotify charts. Grande is the only female singer to sit at the top of both this year.

Most notably, “thank u, next” hit #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100, something that Grande has never been able to do before with any other single.

Grande’s newest single came out just three months after her fourth studio album, “Sweetener,” was released on Aug. 17. When Grande announced via Twitter that she was already working on new music so quickly after the album’s release, fans were excited to see what she would do next. The surprise drop of “thank u, next” did not disappoint.

Why has the song’s popularity skyrocketed in such a short amount of time? Its unique message, stunning vocals, and feel-good, sweet sound are possible explanations.

The song advocates the idea of literally saying “thank you, next” to all of your exes: expressing gratitude for the relationship and then moving on with your life. The song is being called “theup anthem of the year,” with celebrities and fans alike showing their love and support for the song by simply tweeting, “thank u, next.” Rather than being hateful towards her exes, Grande turns lemons into lemonade by saying each of them taught her valuable lessons about love, patience, and pain. This outlook on love and relationships is revolutionary in that the song seems to be about breakups and being positive at the same time. In other words, there is no room for wallowing in sadness or self-pity. Learn and move on.

Her vulnerability in “thank u, next” is unmatched in any of Grande’s other music, and is unique compared to other popular music. Of course, there have been many iconic breakup songs that have helped people get over their exes before. Most singers talk  about how awful their ex was, or how unworthy of their love they were. Grande’s approach is different; she directly thanks her exes instead. From the opening line and onward, she mentions four famous exes: Big Sean, Ricky Alvarez, ex-fiance Pete Davidson, and the late Mac Miller. Grande then thanks her estranged father for allowing her mother to grow from their failed relationship.

Being this vulnerable to the public eye can’t be easy, but Grande chooses to open herself up anyway. Everyone knows the year that Grande has had, having to recover from the trauma of losing fans at the terrorist bombing during her Manchester concert, calling off her engagement to ex Pete Davidson, and losing ex Mac Miller. Releasing a song as personal and self-empowering as “thank u, next” despite all of the trauma and heartbreak that she has been going through is simply awe-inspiring. Few artists can go through what she has and manage to create music that embraces optimism.  It’s refreshing to listen to a song that shows so much resilience, when most pop music defaults to basic formulas of heartbreak lyrics.

On another note, Grande advocates self-love just as much as having gratitude for others. She mentions that she is “having better discussions” with “Ari,” as in herself. In other words, she is strengthening the relationship she has with herself rather than with another man. Grande proclaims that she taught herself about love, patience, and pain, too, and “turned out amazing.” Praising yourself for going through what you have and learning from it are arguably two of the most healthy ways to cope with a breakup, but many people lack the self-love necessary to achieve this.

Whether or not you’re going through a breakup, “thank u, next” makes you feel empowered to not let anyone stand in the way of your future and your own happiness. Ultimately, Grande sings from the heart to assert that relationships help you grow, and whatever went wrong in the relationship can be a lesson learned for the next relationship in your life. Even if you cannot relate at all to the song, it’s still a feel-good tune to dance around to or to pick yourself up when you’re having a bad day. Even Grande knows the song is a hit.