“Thank u, next”. Ariana Grande unexpectedly dropped her new single just before midnight on November 3rd after her recent breakup with SNL star and ex-fiance, Pete Davidson. Her number one hit comes after a tumultuous year and a half; Ariana dealt with the Manchester terrorist bombing during her Dangerous Woman Tour in May 2017, and the unexpected death of her ex-boyfriend and rapper, Mac Miller, this past September.
However, her breezy vocals over the smooth track make her breakup anthem an effortless listen. She creates an interesting twist to the conventional formula of breakup songs, which can mostly be categorized into raging resentment or excruciating misery. Ariana’s pop hit is all about appreciation and self-love. She recalls her time with Pete: “Even almost got married / And for Pete, I’m so thankful”. It’s easy to point the finger and blame your exes for all their wrongdoings but Ariana takes the high road and expresses her gratitude for the time they spent together and the lessons she’s learned.
On her second verse, she reveals—to our surprise—that she has met someone else already.
“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”
The unexpected turn of her lyrics is a pleasant surprise and sends a positive message of self-love, especially for those who are going through heartbreak and are feeling vulnerable.
Ariana is not the first person to drop a great breakup song. Breakup songs have always existed to give immeasurable solace to a broken heart. So can these breakup songs be a legitimate remedy for the broken-hearted? Researchers Mitchell, McDonald, and Knussen at Glasgow Caledonian University posed the same question in their 2008 study in which they evaluated the effects of music on pain perception. They found that listening to preferred music significantly increased tolerance of test subjects who underwent cold pressor pain induction. Anxiety level and perceived control over the stress factor was greatly influenced by just listening to music alone.
There are many ways to fix a wounded heart; music is one remedy. After feeling overwhelming tornados of emotions, memories, and thoughts, you might find yourself completely lost and unable to articulate the complexity of the intense emotions. When there’s no other way to put a finger on what you are feeling and how to go about expressing them, a good breakup song might help tidy up the cognitive mess. When it’s too difficult to organize your own thoughts, listening to Ariana express her own feelings: “I’ve loved and I’ve lost / but that’s not what I see” can open a new dialogue in your brain, Maybe that’s not how I should see it either? How can I deal with my breakup? As the iconic pop star belts out, “So look what I got / Look what you taught me/ And for that, I say thank you, next,” you can start to enter the path to self-recovery.