Less than six months after the release of her album, “Sweetener,” Ariana Grande has blasted the music industry with even more hits by releasing another album, “thank u, next.” The album currently sits at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 albums chart.
Before the album’s full release, Grande dropped two singles: the album’s title track, “thank u next,” followed by “7 Rings,” both of which hit No. 1 on the charts. The songs served as sneak-peek teasers to Grande’s confident new style and interpretation of pop music.
When the full album was released, the song “break up with your girlfriend, i’m bored” took the public by storm. The song filled radio airwaves with a feel-good beat and a message that, at surface level, appears to be unique to a female audience. This track replaced “reMeMber,” which Grande decided to pull from the album due to the song being too personal. She decided to add “break up with your girlfriend” to mix in a fun song into her album.
The lyrics tell the story of Grande meeting a boy, whom she is instantly attracted to, at a party. But love at first sight doesn’t last, as Grande discovers the boy is at the party with his girlfriend. Despite this, Grande sings about her desire to sleep with the boy at the party, encouraging him to break up with his girlfriend.
The music video follows the same premise, showing Grande being friendly with the couple during the party. Trailing behind the couple, Grande rolls her eyes at every opportunity, leading the audience to believe that she is about to sabotage them. In a surprise twist, Grande leans in for a kiss with the girlfriend instead of the guy.
Critics have proposed that the girlfriend represents herself; and therefore, her surprise kiss symbolizes her desire to start loving herself, instead of chasing after men. The theory is supported by the fact that the girlfriend has a similar appearance to Grande, sporting her signature high-ponytail and moon tattoo behind her ear. Even more so, in the lyrics to “thank u, next,” Grande admits that she must love for herself because she is her own perfect match.
“Break up with your girlfriend” has a techno-meets-underground hip-hop beat, thanks to a contribution from a sample of “It Makes Me Ill” by ‘N Sync. After hooking the audience with catchy background music, Grande’s confident tone and shamelessly bold lyrics seal the deal to captivate listeners.
Then, the chorus goes as follows: “Break up with your girlfriend / Yeah, yeah, ’cause I’m bored / You can hit it in the mornin’ (Mornin’). Yeah, yeah, like it’s yours /I know it ain’t right but I don’t care (Care) / Break up with your girlfriend, yeah, yeah, ’cause I’m bored.”
This certainly isn’t the first song to explore the topic of lust. In fact, having sex with someone else’s girlfriend is a repetitive theme in modern rap songs. Female artists who’ve sported this type of morale include Avril Lavigne and her early 2000s hit “Girlfriend,” as well as the Pussycat Dolls and their track “Don’t Cha.”
Adults with fond memories of jamming to these old bops now find that the lyrics to “break up with your girlfriend” relive the same mantra: sometimes the guy you think is your soulmate is paired up with someone that just doesn’t deserve him. Although the message is nothing new, it’s still powerful decades later.
Overall, Grande seems to have a new sense of confidence, which is something that was lingering underneath the surface in her previous albums, but is now front and center. In my opinion, I think that’s why her audience is eating it up. Her old songs, which reflected mostly on her past, hinged themselves on feelings of nostalgia, whereas her new songs are about moving forward, focusing on the present and facing life’s challenges with grace and sass.
She started to settle into her sound with “Sweetener,” but “thank u next” is where she officially sealed the deal. Most importantly, this confidence came at a time when I think pop music needed it most. There have always been hints of self-love in pop music, but this is the first album in a while that is purely based on loving yourself first and pursuing anything your heart desires. Along with “7 Rings” and “thank u, next,” this track perfectly complements Grande’s recipe to become the confident, self-loving bad bitch that she’s always aspired to be.
At this point in her career, the bad b—- musician is on top of the world. It seems as though Grande is using her art to overcome a difficult time in her life — a time that the world thought would knock her down. When the public expected a sad mantra or solemn self-reflection, Grande pulled a complete 180 and hit listeners with one empowering single after another, topping charts and accumulating millions of views on music videos.
This certainly won’t be the last of Grande and her empowering music, but for now “break up with your girlfriend” will remain one of her best and most honest tracks that strays off the beaten path. Fans can only hope that the musician can top this one.