Meaning of “Thank U, Next” by Ariana Grande

American singer Ariana Grande’s song “Thank u, next” finds her reflecting on certain things in her life, most notably her past relationships. In the song, Grande directly mentions the names of two of her former lovers:  late rapper Mac Miller and comedian/actor Pete Davidson.

When the song first came out, many assumed Grande was shading her exes in the track. However, she isn’t. She’s just telling the world that she learned something important from every single one of them.

And what lessons did Grande learn from her former boyfriends? To her, she learned the following valuable lessons: love, patience and pain.

“One taught me love
One taught me patience
And one taught me pain” – Ariana Grande

Owing to these important lessons she learned from her exes, she expresses her heartfelt gratitude to them in this song.

Lyrics of "Thank u, next" by Ariana Grande

The “Pete” in the first line refers to Pete Davidson. The “Malcolm” in the second line refers to Mac Miller. Miller’s full name was Malcolm James McCormick. From the song, Grande wishes she could personally tell Miller the words, “Thank you” because he was an angel to her. However, it’s too late to do so now. Miller died tragically at the age of 26 on September 7, 2018.

Music video for “Thank U, Next”

Hours after the release of this clip (November 30, 2018), it set a brand new YouTube record for the most views in 24 hours. It garnered over 50 million views within 24 hours. The video features cameo appearances of a bunch of famous names. Some of these names include Kris Jenner and Troye Sivan. American music video director Hannah Lux Davis directed the video.

Meaning of the Lyrics of “Thank U, Next”

Verse 1

In this verse the subject, specifically Ariana Grande even though she didn’t write these first-person lyrics, reminisces on four of her past lovers, referring to them each by name.  She then goes on to mention one prominent aspect or event of the respective relationships she shared with each of them.

Pre-Chorus

This stanza begins with Ariana mentioning personal, emotionally-based lessons she learned from the aforementioned relationships.  She then goes on to point out how these experiences have made her a better person.  She further illuminates that despite the fact none of these romances were ultimately lasting, she doesn’t perceive them as failures due to the invaluable self-esteem and knowledge she gained as a result.

 Chorus 1

In this section, Miss Grande further illustrates how thankful she is for the experiences with her past boyfriends.  However, she also forcefully and repeatedly asserts the idea that she is more than ready to move on to the “next” one.

Verse 2

Now Ariana more explicitly states how her life has improved as a result of losing her ex-boyfriends.  First she points out that she is now able to “spend more time with (her) friends”.  Then she shows that she has indeed already moved on to the “next” one who she has “better discussions” with than her exes.  However she then throws a zinger by revealing that this new love is actually herself.  In other words, as alluded to in the pre-chorus, her unsuccessful past relationships have actually empowered her.

Pre-Chorus 2

This pre-chorus differs from the first in that this time Ariana is notes the lessons she learned from herself.  Then she celebrates her strength in being able to handle the previously-mentioned heartbreaks.  She then concludes this pre-chorus as she did with the first by rejoicing over her painful yet self-enlightening education.

Chorus 2

This chorus is practically identical to the first in terms of wording, the most-striking difference being that “thank you” is said almost twice as many times.

Post-Chorus

The term “thank you, next” is repeated three more times, followed by the singer giving a shoutout to herself. Even though we now know the primary object of affection in this song is her own self, she still insinuates that she is ready for a new interpersonal lover, as illustrated in the next section.

Bridge

This verse vividly highlights Ariana’s fantasy and indeed expectation to one day get married and enjoy a relationship that unlike the others will “last”.  She also states that she intends to get married only once.

Pre-Chorus 3

This time instead of mentioning “love” and “patience” as lessons learned Ariana speaks of them as qualities that she already possesses, in abundance.  She also once again celebrates the better person she has become due to “the pain” associated with her exes.  The song ends on a note that even though the subject fully expects to enjoy fresh romantic love in the future, she is content enough with her own personal development to perceive “no need for searching” for it.

Facts about “thank you, next”

  • Within just two hours of being uploaded, the song garnered almost half a million views on YouTube.
  • Many have praised the song, calling it one of the most positive songs about former lovers.
  • The song was composed by Ariana Grande and five others. These other songwriters are Charles Anderson, Tayla Parx, Victoria Monet, Tommy “TBHits” Brown and Michael Foster.
  • Three of the writers of the song produced it. They are: Foster, Brown and Anderson. Grande didn’t partake in the song’s production.
  • This track is the first song Grande released since her ex boyfriend Mac Miller died.
  • The phrase “Thank u, next” isn’t only the title of this song but also the title of Grande’s 2019 album. Grande confirmed this on Twitter on November 3, 2018. That date was the same day the song was released.
  • The aforementioned album is Grande’s fifth studio album. The album also features the global hit single “7 Rings“.
  • Contrary to popular belief, “Thank u, next” isn’t a diss track. Lyrically, Grande is in no way dissing any of her exes (especially Davidson).
  • This track gave Grande her career’s first ever number 1 hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100.
  • Believe it or not, but Grande actually played this song for her exes before it was released. Had they not approved of certain parts of the lyrics, she probably would have been forced to change them.

A few days before this track was dropped, Pete Davidson made a joke about his recently ended relationship with Grande. The joke didn’t sit well with Grande, thereby forcing her to retaliate via a tweet. Based on this, are you so sure Ariana Grande isn’t dissing Pete Davidson on this track?

Grande herself took to Twitter to tell her fans and the world alike that this song in no way represents bad blood between she and her exes. To her, it’s rather about a new chapter in her life. She said it the song was about “love, gratitude, acceptance, honesty, forgiveness and growth”. Below is Grande’s tweet:

Ariana Grande

Who sings the background vocals on “Thank U, Next”?

The song’s backing vocals are provided by American singer/songwriter Victoria Monét. This isn’t Monét’s first time working with Grande. She’s done so multiple times. For example, she co-wrote the track “Pete Davidson“, which is another Grande song about Pete Davidson.

Ariana Grande performs “thank u, next” live

Below is a clip of Grande performing the song live on Ellen. At some point during the performance, she stumbles but laughs and carries on with the performance.

The 1975’s cover of “thank u, next”

On November 26, 2018, the English pop rock band The 1975 stunned their fans with a brilliant cover of this hit song. The band covered the song during their appearance on the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge.

2 Responses

  1. Jan Drake Bakke says:

    I love all of Ariana’s songs. The song writers and she do a great job!Right now I love the song “Needy”. I was writing some lyrics the other day and hadnt seen this song yet. And out of the blue saw this song and was so surprised that is was so similar to some poetry I had just written. That was so synchronistic. That song hits home to me. I shared my poem on my twitter page. /2-27-2019

  2. Jan Drake Bakke says:

    How would one go about sending Ariana some of my poetry for songs to make for she and the writers? I write alot and share it on twitter, my radio show and my column. My dream is to make songs out of them. Just encquiring and being bold here! I have shared some of my poems to her on twitter too. I guess an agent is what most people do. I don’t have one. /2-27-2019

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