Thank U, Next is Ariana Grande's first album since her split from comedian Pete Davidson, but it's definitely not a breakup album. Grande's past year can't be defined that simply, and Thank U, Next is an exploration of all its complications. The album touches on loss, on friendship, on grieving, on independence, and — yes — on Pete Davidson. At least, a little bit.
Take "Bloodline," one of the more catchy songs from the album. Certain lines suggest it's about the decision for the couple to end their engagement, with one reading, "Don't want you in my bloodline, yeah / Just wanna have a good time, yeah." What follows could be a reference to Davidson's public jokes about their breakup that Grande called out on Twitter, singing, "And no need to apologize, no? But you gon' have to let this shit go."
Then there's "Ghostin," one of the more heartbreaking songs on the album. Here, Grande dives into the difficulty of grieving for Mac Miller while still dating Davidson.
"Baby, you do it so well / You been so understanding, you been so good / And I'm puttin' you through more than one ever should," she sings. "And I'm hating myself 'cause you don't want to / Admit that it hurts you."
We don't know exactly what led to Grande and Davidson's split, but "Ghostin" suggests Miller's death was a trying time for both of them.
"In My Head" is a tricky one, as fans are split as to whether it's about Grande's attempt to change Miller or Grande's realization that she and Davidson weren't mean to be.
"I thought that you were the one / But it was all in my head / It was all in my head (Skrrt, skrrt)," the lyrics go. "Wanted you to grow, but, boy, you wasn’t budding / Everything you are made you everything you aren't / I saw your potential without seein’ credentials / Maybe that's the issue (Yeah, yeah)."
The very fact that it can be applied to a number of relationships is a testament to the relatability of Grande's lyrics. It's safe to say no one has had the year she's had, yet fans can find specific things to connect to in all of them. For that reason, Davidson does not play a huge role in the album. It's not about for him — and, honestly, it's not about Miller either. These songs are anthems for Grande alone, and we're so glad we can finally hear her sing them.