Listened to 'thank u, next' recently? Were you confused about a line or two? Were you unable to understand any of the song at all? Would you like a comprehensive overview of what in the world has been happening this past month in the field of pop music culture? 

Have no fear! Here’s a detailed deconstruction of every line in Ariana Grande’s new hit song:

[Verse 1]

Thought I'd end up with Sean

But he wasn't a match

This refers to Ariana Grande’s relationship with rapper Big Sean, best known for his bops such as “I Don’t Fuck With You.” The two were in an 8–month relationship, reportedly splitting due to conflicts with their busy touring schedules. They supposedly remain good friends and stay in contact, and he apparently even heard the song before it was released.

Wrote some songs about Ricky

Now I listen and laugh

Ricky Alvarez was a backup dancer for Ariana’s 2015 tour, the couple was together for one year before calling it quits. You may remember him from this donut–licking scandal that apparently everyone but me remembers (the world was so different three years ago, wasn’t it?). Alvarez was also another ex that Ariana revealed had already heard the song before the release date. 

Even almost got married

And for Pete, I'm so thankful

I don’t think I need to recap this event, because you’ve probably been bombarded with about a million and a half E News articles about it already. But why don’t we quickly take a run through memory lane anyway, shall we? Ariana Grande and SNL comedian Pete Davidson dated for a few weeks before deciding to take the plunge and get engaged sometime around June of 2018. She released the hit song “pete davidson,” which in hindsight I’m sure is awkward for both of them. They announced their split in October and kept extremely professional despite a national frenzy to find all the gritty details of the breakup. Both of them are taking their time to recover from the relationship and stay private about their personal lives, which I believe is very commendable. 

Wish I could say, "Thank you" to Malcolm

'Cause he was an angel

This references the tragic death of Malcolm Miller, the last man Ariana dated before Pete. The rapper died from an accidental overdose in September of this year, and fans worldwide as well as Grande have been in immense grief following his passing. 

[Pre-Chorus]

One taught me love

One taught me patience

And one taught me pain

This lyric is a little confusing. It’s unclear as to whether or not she means specific exes of hers taught her love, patience, and pain respectively, or if she means this verse as a general statement as to everything she’s learned from dating. It seems like the latter is probably true, since, from a quick mathematical analysis I completed, the former hypothesis doesn’t hold up. 

She mentioned love, patience, and pain, which would mean that she was talking about three exes. I would guess that Pete taught her love, assuming that from her long whirlwind engagement to him, and Sean taught her patience, due to the fact that it was incredibly difficult for them to see each other with their busy music careers. I’d only have to guess that she would mean Malcolm when talking about pain, as a reference to the tremendous loss she faced after his death. However, that leaves out Ricky, so this theory doesn’t add up. Therefore, I’ll assume she’s just generally referencing all that she’s been through in her past relationships. 

Now, I'm so amazing

I would agree, Ariana Grande is quite amazing. 

Say I've loved and I've lost

But that's not what I see

So, look what I got

Look what you taught me

Ariana is establishing a positive tone to her song here, looking back at her past and directly speaking to her exes in a very reflective manner. She seems happy with where she is today, despite everything that’s happened. Honestly, Ariana Grande is unbelievably resilient, and I applaud her for that. 

And for that, I say

[Chorus]

Thank you, next (Next)

This line seems to be debated a lot. A lot of people are unclear as to whether this statement is meant to be sassy because the “next” seems a bit curt and serves as a goodbye to all of her exes. I, on the other hand, personally believe that the line is meant to be a form of self empowerment for Ariana. She appears genuinely thankful for all the memories and lessons her exes have taught her, and she’s ready for the next chapter of her life to begin. She’s onto bigger and better, and we’re just along for the ride. 

Thank you, next (Next)

It’s also interesting to note that the popular lyric websites, including Genius and azlyrics.com, spell out “you” instead of utilizing the “u” that Ariana placed in the title. This could have occurred for a variety of reasons: a) Ariana Grande made a typo in the title (unlikely but still a theory), b) the lyric websites made a mistake and Ariana would have written a “u” if she was writing out these lyrics, or c) this issue was so infinitesimally small in the eyes of the website content creators that they didn’t pay attention to their usage of “you” and “u” (big mistake on their part, if you ask me). 

I think Ariana used “u” instead of the grammatically correct “you” to promote her style of lowercase letters and short phrases ("not today, satan” is something that I say on the daily. How does it convey so many emotions in so little words?)

Thank you, next

I'm so fuckin' grateful for my ex

Pretty self explanatory. She seems extremely grateful for her exes. 

Thank you, next (Next)

Thank you, next (Next)

Thank you, next (Next)

I'm so fuckin'—

She seems to have gotten cut off here, but I think we can extrapolate from previous information to figure out what she was going to say. 

[Verse 2]

Spend more time with my friends

I ain't worried 'bout nothin'

Plus, I met someone else

We havin' better discussions

I know they say I move on too fast

But this one gon' last

'Cause her name is Ari

And I'm so good with that (So good with that)

It seems like Grande is revealing that she’s going to be taking a break from the dating scene, instead focusing on personal growth and herself for at least the near future. Honestly, good for Ari. She’s been through so much and has kept her head high in spite of everything, and it’s really uplifting to hear that she’s going to take some time to recover from everything. 

[Pre-Chorus]

She taught me love (Love)

She taught me patience (Patience)

How she handles pain (Pain)

She seems to be talking about herself in third person here, displaying the point of view of her exes. Such a power move. 

That shit's amazing (Yeah, she's amazing)

I've loved and I've lost (Yeah, yeah)

But that's not what I see (Yeah, yeah)

'Cause look what I've found (Yeah, yeah)

Ain't no need for searching, and for that, I say

[Chorus]

Thank you, next (Thank you, next)

Thank you, next (Thank you, next)

Thank you, next (Thank you)

I'm so fuckin' grateful for my ex

Thank you, next (Thank you, next)

Thank you, next (Said thank you, next)

Thank you, next (Next)

I'm so fuckin' grateful for my ex

[Bridge]

One day I'll walk down the aisle

Holding hands with my mama

I'll be thanking my dad

'Cause she grew from the drama

It’s really important here to have some context on Grande’s family, so let me give you a brief overview: Ariana and her dad don’t have the best of relationships. Ariana’s father, Edward Butera, split from her mother, Joan Grande, when Ariana was eight. Joan took custody of Ariana and raised her almost single–handedly, which explains why Ariana only takes her mother’s maiden name. She broke off contact with her father in 2013.

It seems like these verses are praising the strength of her mother for raising her as a single parent. She says that her mother will walk her down the aisle, undertaking the role that the bride’s father typically completes. Ariana believes that what her father did for her mother is similar to what her exes have done and continue to do for her: he prompted Joan to grow and overcome. 

Only wanna do it once, real bad

Gon' make that shit last

She displays her take on marriage here, discussing how she only wants to wed once.

God forbid something happens

Least this song is a smash (Song is a smash)

mood. 

[Pre-Chorus]

I've got so much love (Love)

Got so much patience (Patience)

I've learned from the pain (Pain)

I turned out amazing (Turned out amazing)

Say I've loved and I've lost (Yeah, yeah)

But that's not what I see (Yeah, yeah)

'Cause look what I've found (Yeah, yeah)

Ain't no need for searching

She seems to be saying that she’s found all the strength and love and power she needs from within herself instead of looking for external support and validation from romantic partners. Fans should be proud of Grande, she’s an absolutely incredible public figure and role model. 

And for that, I say

[Chorus]

Thank you, next (Thank you, next)

Thank you, next (Thank you, next)

Thank you, next

I'm so fuckin' grateful for my ex

Thank you, next (Thank you, next)

Thank you, next (Said thank you, next)

Thank you, next (Next)

I'm so fuckin' grateful for my ex

[Post-Chorus]

Thank you, next

Thank you, next

Thank you, next

Yeah, yee

Thank you, next

Thank you, next

Thank you, next

And she finally concludes with a very articulate, yet enigmatic: 

Yeah, yee


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