Ariana Grande’s ‘Upbeat’ New Album Stemmed From ‘A Super Sad Chapter’

Scattered throughout Ariana Grande‘s triumphant Billboard Woman of the Year profile are major tidbits for everyone who has diligently read every tweet, checked every Instagram story, and watched every YouTube drop on Ari’s accounts since early October: concrete details on the second new album she promised would be coming by the end of this year.

Thank U, Next — the album, not the song — is almost ready for global consumption. In mid-November, when the interview took place, Ari was in the “polishing” phase of production, having spent one week writing the tracks and two weeks recording them with help from collaborators Tommy Brown, Social House, Victoria Monét, Tayla Parx, and Doug Middlebrook. But as of Tuesday (December 4), she was tweeting at Republic Records to “hurry yo ass up” with her final product.

Created in a zen-sounding studio outfitted in white flowers, a candle, and a light that projects rippling water imagery, the tone of the new music is “not particularly uplifting,” Ariana said. “A lot of it sounds really upbeat, but it’s actually a super sad chapter.”

It’s a description that actually makes a lot of sense considering the work was fueled by pink champagne and an unthinkable amount of heartache that the artist has endured in the past few months alone — most notably, that which resulted from the unexpected death of her beloved Mac Miller. At least one song on TUN is about the late rapper, according to the profile.

Another tune — one whose name we already know — has tackles a happier memory. “7 Rings” is about a “challenging fall day in New York” that brought Ari and friends to Tiffany’s for some casual retail therapy. A few glasses of champagne (what else?) later, “we bought seven engagement rings, and when I got back to the studio I gave everybody a friendship ring.”

Billboard writer Natalie Weiner, who got to listen to the tracks, described the album as “defiant — deep, bass-driven bangers with trap beats alternating with airy, sad ballads — and aesthetically more adventurous than anything she has ever released.” Lyrically, Weiner called it “unambiguously personal and gutting.”

But perhaps the best news to come of this interview is that Ari, being the benevolent pop diva she is, is already looking forward to making even more new music when she hits the road for next year’s Sweetener tour, and potentially just teased a third new album.

“Please. [“Thank U, Next” production duo] Social House is my opening act — you don’t think we’re going to have a studio on the bus? That we’re not going to be making records on the road? Of course we are,” she said. “I want to be able to do what is authentic and honest and natural. It’s the only way that I’ve been able to survive.”

It’s a bold approach that’s been working for Ari these past few months, and we are here to support its continuation. Please!

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