Following the smash success of 2018’s Sweetener and the hype surrounding ‘thank u, next’ (Grande’s first Billboard number one single), fans have been eagerly awaiting more. Unfortunately Grande’s fifth LP is a disappointment in comparison to the quality of its singles. The one exception to this is the atmospheric lament ‘ghostin’ which is heartbreakingly honest in light of personal tragedies the singer endured this past year and mixes delicate strings perfectly with spacey, other-worldly production.
While Sweetener was a masterclass in pop production, thank u, next is often amateurish in comparison. This makes sense as Sweetener was created largely by pop powerhouses, Pharrell, Max Martin, Savan Kotecha and Hit-Boy and went through the usual lengthy process to ensure quality before release. In contrast, thank u, next, while still involving major pop names like Martin, includes credits to friends of Grande; Victoria Monét, Tayla Parx, Tommy Brown and Social House who are not yet in the prime of their careers. The album only began production around September of 2018 and the rushed process shows in the quality of some of the songs. While the album is more stylistically cohesive than its predecessor, and will undoubtedly delight Grande fans with its authenticity and honesty, much of it is very fun but ultimately forgettable. Lyrics have never been Grande’s strong point and that is painstakingly clear on some of these tracks like ‘NASA’ and ‘make up’. Simplicity can be effective, but that is not the case with thank u, next.