1 YEAR ANNIVERSARY ON AOTY!!!
On November 25th, 2020, I created my Last.fm account. I’m posting this review now because I expected it to be done by the 25th, but I’m a little early on time. I think it’s only right to review an Ariana album for an occasion like this. The full trilogy of reviews for Ariana’s past 3 albums is finally here. Back in August, I wrote a long review for my favorite album of all time, Positions. In September, I wrote an even longer review for Sweetener. Now, I’m finally closing the trio of album reviews with Thank U, Next. This review will be special though. I’m going to thank people that have been there for me over the past year, as well as an in-depth top 25 favorite Ariana songs list.
Part 1: Album Review
Thank u, next is still Ariana’s most personal, self-reflecting album to date. Imagine Ariana was talking to a mirror as she starts to break down crying, reflecting on her past, but then an hour later she ends up going to the party of her life. That’s the rollercoaster this album takes you on. At least that’s how I see it.
The first couple seconds of the first leadup single, the title track, is beyond iconic and has aged like wine. I think the lyrics are very well thought out even though the chorus is pretty bland. This song is a classic and will never be forgotten. I can say the same for 7 rings although it isn’t even close to how good the title track is in my opinion. 7 rings is Ariana’s trap anthem. Even her rap verse was not bad. It worked well with the song, and that’s all that matters. Accumulating almost 3 billion streams for both of these singles combined is bizarre. As I said in my brief description on my list, “Even with 339 million streams to date, “Imagine” would never be able to outplay the colossal thank u, next and 7 rings”. Imagine was Ariana’s last release of 2018, and it was phenomenal. It’s a perfect intro(although the album wasn’t out at the time of release of course). I described it as “Personal, hard hitting, and very self-reflecting lyrically. The build to the end of the track is very impactful, especially with the falsettos, followed by a layered vocal outro repeating the song’s title.” The success of the singles followed right onto the album as every track has surpassed 100 million streams. I’ll talk about those now.
It’s unusual to talk about the outro first, but I think it’s fitting in this case due to the strange placement of the track “break up with your girlfriend, I’m bored”. The title track was the perfect ending to an album as personal as that. She even had it as the last song on her tour setlist!!! I do think the production is very bubbly, if that makes any sense, but it's just a bop through and through to be honest. Weird placement, but hey, it’s still a great track.
I already talked about five standout tracks on my top 25 list(In My Head, Imagine, Fake Smile, Needy, Ghostin), so I’ll mention the other tracks that are worth a mention. NASA and Bloodline are like twins in the sense that they are hard hitting pop tracks that sound somewhat similar. Bad Idea is easily the worst song in my opinion. I know there’s many people who would scream at me for that opinion, but I just find the chorus to be pretty standard, and this is honestly the one moment on the album that is somewhat boring.
With Thank U, Next, Ariana shows her true colors, and finally expresses what she wanted to say. I think Sweetener was more of an album that Ari needed to make in order to cool off from past tragedies so that Thank U, Next could be the album that truly spoke to the people. I think there’s many tracks that are just fine, but this is a perfect 10 to me, because the replayability is off the charts while the album has had so much impact on my music taste in general.
Part 2: People To Thank
I think for a review like this it’s necessary to thank the people that have been there for me the most. This obviously isn’t a ranked list, it’s more about the time I had the most connection with the person. These are the people that legitimately make my day better every day. If you aren’t on the list it’s not personal. Here we go.
You are the reason I am here. I remember reaching out to you about a year ago and seeing your bio was this weird site called AOTY, and look at me now lol. I’m just so thankful I have such a good friend irl who’s also in the community. Love you always.
Nicodemus Bjarcan. Thank you so much for everything, seriously. We’ve talked on a personal note so many times, and I’ve just found myself so welcomed by you. You're the person that showed me where to start, and I can’t thank you enough for it. Mwah.
IDER! YESSS! I legit love you so much. Over the past year, we’ve slowly but gradually grown such a strong friendship, and it’s been so great to talk almost every day with you. Your advice has been the most successful for me, and you’re just such an important person to me. Thank you for helping me out in times of need, you seriously come in clutch. Love u <3.
Weezer. Thank you for everything always everyday you beautiful ass motherfucker. We’ve listened to so many albums together over the past year, and it’s been such a fun ride. Nick has been the one person that’s really helped me get into more music, and the impact has been crazy. I finally enjoy so many more types of music, and it’s all thanks to Nick. Love you brodie.
My favorite British person. It’s been such a pleasure to talk to you all this time even though we haven’t talked consistently in a while, but it was really nice to meet your friends and play PS4 with you. Cheers :)
Nozworth. Always a pleasure to talk to you even though you have a 14 year old fortnite squeaker voice. Thank you so much for reaching out and checking in on me in time of need. Love you bro.
It’s always so nice to talk to you, and we’ve been talking since the first week I was here. I think it’s really nice that you created a discord server that I can call home. Love you <3
It’s unhealthy how based you are. It’s been such a fun time talking with you; not so much when you embarrassed me on Smash Bros. tho. Thank you for showing me The Cardigans as well. Really great group. Love you bro.
Zilla is just that guy. You’re someone I can talk to for hours on end and never get sick of. The deep music conversations we get into are always enjoyable as hell. Such a pleasure to have talked with you the past couple months.
Nerdy, omg. Nerdy is someone who just goes out of his way to be so positive, and he even listens to Ari’s discog without struggling. The music grows on him because of me I guess lol. It’s so nice to have you as a friend. You’re amazing. I love you.
Part 3: Top 25 Ariana Songs
For my one year anniversary of joining the site, I think it would be fun to rank my top 25 favorite songs by my favorite artist of all time, Ariana Grande Butera. Ariana might not be the most based artist of all time, but she makes me happy and that’s what matters. To clarify, I am NOT a simp. This list took a lot of time and effort, so I hope you enjoy.
25. Better Off
Over the past year or so, better off has been just another great song on Sweetener, but I never went out of my way to say it’s one of my favorites. The production feels like a floating wave while the layered vocals throughout are so comforting. A couple weeks ago, this song hit hard when I played it for myself in a time of distress. That’s why it has to be in the top 25.
24. The Way
This is iconic in droves. The Way is a blast from the past that is energetic, fun, and an all around feel good track that is one of the songs that put Ariana’s music career on the map. Mac Miller’s feature on the pop-rap anthem sounds like he didn’t even try, but in a good way. He didn’t even need to use effort in order to slide on this track. One of her best songs from Yours Truly.
23. Into You
It goes without saying that Dangerous Woman is the album that Ari finally started to experiment with her sound and make an album that didn’t feel like it came from Disney Channel. I guess you can call this and Dangerous Woman “bad bi1ch anthems”. Into You proves that in more ways than one. Ariana found a way to make a standout electropop track that made the radio explode. Absolutely classic, and easily top 5 on Dangerous Woman.
22. Only 1
HIDDEN GEM! Being a 2014 deluxe track to an album with mixed reviews, Only 1 was one of the songs that was outshined by Love Me Harder, Bang Bang, Break Free, Problem, and One Last Time. I don’t really know how to describe the production, you kinda just have to listen for yourself cause it’s definitely not groundbreaking. Only 1 is just a really simplistic song that gets the job done, and I love it. It’s most likely on the list because it has major replay value. Check it out if you haven’t(which most people reading this probably haven’t).
21. In My Head
This used to be one of my least favorite songs on thank u, next, but this is one of my best friends’ favorite Ari songs, and they got me to love it after a couple months of being tasteless(u know who u are❤️). Just turn this up to max volume and focus on the production. It's a trap influenced beat while also having a repeating voice making some sort of noise in the background. I don’t even know what it is or who it is, but it works. And that bridge, stop playing. The whole album is full of strong bridges but this track takes it to the next level. One of the best songs on the album for sure.
That is how you start an album. Personal, hard hitting, and very self-reflecting lyrically. The build to the end of the track is very impactful, especially with the falsettos, followed by a layered vocal outro repeating the song’s title. Being the second single for the album seems fitting, but this was the least popular of the three singles. Even with 339 million streams to date, it would never be able to outplay the colossal thank u, next and 7 rings. Definitely my favorite of the three though. Amazing song.
19. Fake Smile
Fake Smile is a chill yet upbeat track at the same time, and I’m obsessed. That Wu-Tang Tearz sample is also really nice to hear on a pop track. The fact that the chorus makes the track very quiet is a nice change of pace as well. The implementation of that bass which plays throughout is one of the best parts of the track as well. The lyrics are all some of my favorites on the album. Having deep personal thoughts about faking smiles(obviously by the title) and how she has to force herself to do so due to past trauma is heartbreaking. I do love that she was able to serve on the bridge though. One of her most memorable songs for me.
18. Knew Better / Forever Boy
A beat switch Ariana track is everything and more for me. Knew Better is hard hitting, and to the point. Ari makes it clear that this man of interest needs to do better, but he didn't know any better. Idk lol. The beat switch is very clean and doesn’t feel forced at all. Forever boy is more upbeat, and is definitely fitting with Knew Better. Ari goes from expecting more from the guy to falling for him. This is around five minutes of quality, and I wish it was even longer.
17. Break Your Heart Right Back
Ari and Gambino is all you need to know. And the More Money More Problems sample... it's stressful how good this song is. I think this is a stronger version of The Way in the sense that a rapper has a verse on a pop track and Ari takes the wheel on the chorus. Gambino’s verse is so engaging and matches Ari’s energy, and they just came full circle for such a fun experience like this. Also, a close friend of mine loves this song with a passion, so it’s really nice to have a connection about Ari with them(u know who u are❤️).
16. Be My Baby
HIDDEN GEM! Cashmere Cat killed this one! I think Ari and Cashmere Cat have great chemistry now that they have two tracks(the other being “Quit”). I personally prefer this track to Quit just because Quit’s chorus is just production, and Ari goes all in on Be My Baby. Although I’m happy this song wasn’t overplayed, this track is definitely overlooked and deserved more love. Amazing.
Needy has always been one of those songs that have been in my top 5 on the album, but I never held it to high praise. The instrumental is so memorable that you can just tell it’s “needy” right when you hear the first chime. The background vocalists work wonders on the chorus while the violins were a great touch to the outro.
14. Love Me Harder
Be My Baby, Break Your Heart Right Back, and Love Me Harder is a three track run, and they’re simultaneously(but not in order) in my top 20. Now we enter the top 15 with the groundbreaking Love Me Harder featuring the king himself, Canada superstar, Abel Tesfaye, AKA Starboy, AKA The Weeknd. I’m so happy that this song got it’s praise, because it completely deserved it. Abel and Ari didn’t mess around on their first collaboration. That bridge is ridiculously strong. The chemistry is 110% there, and I’m here for it. Although this is personally not my favorite track by the duo, it is still fantastic in so many ways. This is without a doubt the best song on My Everything.
13. God Is A Woman
Being a male, I obviously can’t relate to what the track lives up to say and mean, but that doesn’t mean it’s not one hell of a song. God is A Woman is a track that describes concepts of maturity while it’s full of religious meaning. The production is grand while the chorus’ guitar is addictive. Being the second strongest single of the three, Ari was able to top The Light Is Coming by a far margin while No Tears Left To Cry is too good but this is without a doubt an incredible anthem.
12. No Tears Left To Cry
No Tears Left To Cry makes it clear that Ari is “pickin’ it up”. The bright synth is phenomenal, adding such a broad sound for the song as a whole. The final chorus’ layered vocals are so effective, creating a grand and heavenly sound for the track. This is definitely one of the most hard hitting tracks on the album, but it couldn’t beat the best track. Amazing amazing amazing.
This is objectively Ariana’s most personal, heartbreaking track. After the death of the rapper Mac Miller, Ari’s relationship didn’t work out well with SNL Comedian Pete Davidson because she still had so much love for Mac. The production as a whole is quintessential while matching the mood perfectly. The end of the song is so eerie and gives me chills every time. The fact that she released this song is so brave, and I have so much respect for her for it. This is quite easily the best song on Thank U, Next.
Alright. The top 10. Moonlight is an absolutely beautiful intro. Such a chilling experience throughout while Ari puts on one hell of a vocal performance. It’s just a pillow of comfort. This is Ariana’s best intro to date, and one of her best songs mainly based on the feeling it gives me everytime.
“Breathin’ is about breathing” - Ariana Grande
Ariana was levitating on this track. The production throughout is so strong, and Ari’s control with the beat is just raw talent. Don’t even get me started with the guitar solo post-chorus. A downright mastery if you ask me. This is a huge highlight on Sweetener, and for Ariana’s career in general. Such a strong track through and through.
8. Right There
Right There is an anthem for the ages. Although this isn’t a huge track, it is big enough to not be considered a hidden gem. This is such a fun and memorable track. Replayability is to the max as well. I listened to this song everyday for months on end. This is the Ariana song that makes me feel happy the most, but the tracks above it just hold an extremely special place in my heart.
7. My Hair
The fact that this is not in my top 3 tracks on Positions just proves how much I love the album. This song is just a picture that says a thousand words. The jazzy style is such a new chapter for Ari. We’ve never heard her quite like this before. The trumpet works wonders while the falsetto run at the end of the track is one of the most impressive moments of her career. The song is even better on the vevo live performance video. The trumpet solo at the end is magnificent. Wish it made it onto the record, but it was nice to have an add-on to the track for the video.
Imagine you’re on a small boat in the middle of the ocean at night and the water glows. You jump out of the boat and start floating on the water. That’s what this production feels like. The synth is such a vibe that feels like a cooldown from everything around you. It’s more of an experience than anything. Just a levitating track. I can play this song 100 times in a row and never get sick of it. It’s very simplistic too; just gets the job done at the end of the day and I’m obsessed. Absolutely beautiful. Best song on Sweetener although there’s so many highlights. This song is just utter perfection.
Just like with R.E.M, the production makes me feel like I’m floating on the water. With POV, it’s a strong ending to Positions with an amazing vocal build on the bridge. It’s still confusing to me why this became a radio track, but hey, that doesn’t change how I feel about this beautiful grand finale to my favorite album ever.
4. Safety Net⭐️
Seriously, where do I even start with Safety Net? This used to be my favorite Ariana song, but the three songs above it have my heart. Safety Net is an R&B masterpiece. I knew this song would be amazing before I even heard it, because I knew Ty Dolla $ign would work wonders on a feature like this. The way the bridge built up is so much stronger than expected. Their chemistry is madness. Although it’s somewhat generic for the R&B genre, I will never forget about this song, and it’s just so special to me.
3. Almost Is Never Enough⭐️
I don’t care what people say about how this song sounds like it was made for Broadway, it’s just so beautiful and almost has me in tears every time. Nathan Sykes, lead singer of The Wanted, has a verse that I used to not be a fan of, but it grew on me so much, and now the chemistry between these two is pure satisfaction. The fact that they were so young at the time making a song as emotional as this just leaves me in shock every time. Incredible.
HIDDEN GEM! Sometimes feels like a timelapse of memories that you’ve had and you're reflecting on it at the end of the summer. The slick guitar is very soothing while it gives a vibe that most Ariana songs don’t; you can listen by the fire, and that’s not usually the vibe for her music whatsoever. It just feels like pure victory, like you’ve made it. Something about this song makes me feel so great and that’s why it’s in my top 2 and it’s the best song on Dangerous Woman.
1. Off The Table⭐️
The song that left me in pure tears in the middle of the night at max volume. I sat there at 3 am and left this on repeat, and there was no experience like that. The Weeknd being featured just adds a million times more of an emotional feeling. The instrumental with the ‘boom, click’ repeating itself makes the song slow, controlled, and let’s Ari and Abel do their thing. I honestly prefer the vevo live version, because Ari hits a high note that isn’t in the original that is legit ear candy. After having Safety Net and Sometimes as my favorite Ariana songs at some points, I realize that Off The Table has always been up there, but it finally made its way to #1 for good reasons. This is legitimately a top 5 song I have ever heard in the sense of how it makes me feel. The fact that my 2 favorite artists made an emotionally gripping song together just feels like it was made for me. Flawless, quintessential, utter perfection.
Please leave a comment about what you thought. I’d love to hear opinions from others about what I can improve on, and how I can progress from here.