Ariana Grande's New Song: What it Means to be Vulnerable With Your Art
So, Venus in retrograde is officially over and I don’t know about you, but my emotions and my love life have been all over the place since October 5th. I’ve been in my feelings about all of my past relationships, I’ve had old flings hit me up, I’ve had to deal with unforeseen rejection (not from boys, though!). It’s been a mess, you guys! And then, by some cosmic kismet, Ariana Grande drops “thank u, next.” A very open, very vulnerable song about her past relationships and how they’ve helped her grow—which by the way is so mature, because my initial thought about some of my exes is “eff you, next.” The song opened quite a few thoughts in my head: what have my exes taught me? What have I learned from them? But I think the most profound thought I had while listening to this song over…and over…and over again is how important it is to be vulnerable.
“Thank u, next” follows the death of her longtime-boyfriend-turned-ex, rapper, Mac Miller, and the end of her relationship, and subsequent engagement, with comedian, Pete Davidson. When listening to it, the song somehow brings together the perfect mix of release with a just a splash of shade. It sounds like the song somebody makes when they’re reflecting on life and love, in the planetary alignment known as Venus in Retrograde. It’s the song you blast when going through a breakup to remind you that it’ll be okay, because even though your ex was a POS, they taught you something.
After Grande’s sweetener, which was also an album dedicated to singing her truth, this song comes in as another peek into Grande’s mind as an artist, a person, and a lover. It reminds us that sometimes we must be open. It reminds those of us that are artists, that we must continue to bleed onto the pages. Not only does the best art come from this openness (we see this constantly in music, literature, photography, and beyond), it also gives us some much-needed catharsis. While being open is, of course, not mandatory to be an artist, it’s true that the stories we know best are our own. Communicating our stories from our own pen (or mouth or paintbrush) can be difficult beyond belief—it’s much easier to present other people’s stories. But they are necessary. Not just for us, but for the people affected by our art.
“Thank u, next” came at the perfect time for me, and so many others. In a period of messy heartbreaks, unforgotten flings, and lovelorn hearts (yes, I’m calling you out, Venus!), hearing a song that channels that confusing energy into something positive and powerful was needed by all. But, if it wasn’t for Grande opening up to the world, many of us would’ve missed out on it. So, to all my artists: remember that your art only gets better the more you’re open with yourself. Who knows, your art could touch the heart of someone who truly needs it. And, to all my heartbroken guys and gals, recognize the growth you’ve gained from that relationship gone sour, acknowledge and work through the pain, and scream at the top of your lungs, “NEXT!”
Cover image via Billboard