2018 has been a year full of diss tracks, and Ariana Grande might have just released the kindest and most elegant one yet.
Grande dropped her newest song “thank u, next” just 30 minutes before the new episode of “Saturday Night Live” aired, the same show her ex Pete Davidson happens to be a cast member on. Since the couple started dating, Davidson has been open about intimate details of his relationship with Grande, going so far as joking about their sex life during radio interviews.
Davidson and Grande started dating soon after Grandes’ public breakup with rapper Mac Miller in May. Grande and Davidson’s whirlwind romance has been the subject of constant media attention and speculation, even after they announced their break up in early October. Davidson added flame to the fire when he jokingly proposed to musical guest Maggie Rogers during an “SNL” promo for the Oct. 13 episode.
Grande took to Twitter to respond, writing “for somebody who claims to hate relevancy u sure love clinging to it huh.” She followed it up by writing “thank u, next,” which may or may not have been intentionally foreshadowing the surprise song drop.
The song itself opens with Grande giving a shout-out to her past exes including Big Sean, Ricky Alvarez, Miller and Davidson. However, Grande doesn’t insult or saying mean about any of them. With elegance and grace, she gives a little summary about each relationship and talks about how one of them taught her love, one taught her patience and one taught her pain.
The most touching moment of the song is when Grande sings, “wish I could say thank you to Malcolm / ’Cause he was an angel.” This is an emotional nod to Miller, who died of a drug overdose at 26 years old on Sept. 6. He and Grande dated for two years, and since his death, Grande has posted tributes to him on her social media accounts.
The rest of the song is a powerful statement from Grande regarding how she has someone new in her life — herself. It shows how her life and career is defined by herself, not by the guys she is romantically involved with. In fact, all of the lessons she’s learned have to do with her own well-being.
Pop music gets a bad reputation for superficiality and catering to teenage girls, but Grande's “thank u, next” helps reinvent that perspective and shows how pop songs can be just as powerful as songs from any other genre.