Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next” music video broke YouTube’s record for views in its first 24 hours. Those numbers aren’t a surprise or a fluke. Since Ariana’s impressive First Wives Club- inspired performance of “thank u, next” on Ellen, and the teasers hinting at a Mean Girls tie-in, the video became a must-see event. On Friday, Ariana was counting down to it on Twitter. I was refreshing my timeline. After it dropped, social media went to work on analyzing the Easter eggs, the cameos, and the response from celebs whose movies were paid homage to. Following along with “thank u, next” in the first 24 hours was FUN. That’s why I’m not surprised by the numbers. Ariana and her team probably aren’t either.
Ariana Grande has been showing great work lately. She’s become a master at creating hype for her work in pop culture at large, not just her devoted fan base, and delivering on that hype. She’s doing all of that in a way that’s authentic and relatable. Again, it’s GREAT work. So, did she deliver with the “thank u, next” music video? The short answer is yes. See above record-breaking numbers. She recreated scenes from four classic female-led rom-coms from the early 2000s: Bring It On, Legally Blonde, 13 Going On 30 and Mean Girls. THESE FOUR MOVIES? Come on, it’s too good. These four movies are basically life-defining moments in every millennial girl’s life. We stan. In the behind-the-scenes footage from the video, here’s what Ariana says about the movies:
“We are basically recreating a bunch of my favourite scenes from classic girly early 2000s/ 90s movies that have shaped and molded so many of us into the strong, intelligent but still playful and girly women that we are.”
None of these movies are from the 90s but I’ll let her have this because she’s right. These movies did shape a generation of young girls, like Ariana is now. In each of these movies, the female lead ends up with a man at the end. Each of these movies –as feminist and positive as they are in their own ways—perpetuate the enduring notion that a happy ending must include a romantic partner. I like that Ariana chose these movies to accompany a song that dismantles this concept. The video was directed by Hannah Lux Davis and she talked to EW about one of my favourite changes they made to an iconic Bring It On scene.
“It was fun to throw Ariana-[inspired] twists on these iconic moments. For example, Torrance’s [Dunst] mixtape from Cliff [Jesse Bradford] in a scene from Bring It On reads ‘to Ari, from Ari.’ Instead of another guy coming in to pick her up when she falls, she picks herself up. It’s self-love and a great message for young girls!”
It IS a great message.
We knew the homages were coming and still, Ariana was able to pull of some surprises, like Kris Jenner playing the Mean Girls’ Cool Mom, originated by Amy Poehler. That’s a perfect f-cking cameo. There are also appearances by Jennifer Coolidge, reprising her role in Legally Blonde, the OG Aaron Samuels Jonathan Bennett, Troye Sivan, YouTube star Colleen Ballinger (formerly known as Miranda Sings and also pregnant IRL), Ariana’s Victorious co-stars Elizabeth Gilles, Matt Bennett, Daniella Monet, and some others I’m sure I’m missing because I’m so young but not that young.
Aside from the celeb cameos, the video delivers on the gossip. Ariana Grande, as Regina George, goes through her very own Burn Book. While flipping through the book, we get glimpses at what she’s written about the exes she calls out in “thank u, next.”
[Big] Sean: So cute. So sweet (could still get it).
Ricky: Great dancer. Good times man. Friends forever.
Pete [Davidson]: Sry I dipped. I love u always. HUUUUGE.
I DIED at “could still get it” and “HUUUGE.” Ariana is keeping the same positive energy of the song while also providing some new info that we can run with like Big Sean still has a shot and Pete Davidson actually does live up to being the inspiration behind BDE. How nice of her. We also now know for sure that it was Ariana who broke off her engagement to Pete. I mean, we KNEW but now it’s 100 per cent confirmed through “sry I dipped.” LOL. I love her so much. My favourite thing about “thank u, next” is that it turned the break up song upside down. Calling out exes in a music video is nothing new (ahem, Taylor Swift) but the way Ariana does it here is somehow fun, playful and also respectful – a fresh take on calling out an ex in a music video.
I have one small issue with the video, and it’s a problem I’ve had with Ariana before I became a certified Mocha Grande. I think she spends too much time preoccupied with hitting her perfect angles and making every frame a flawless picture for Instagram. It’s very Mariah Carey of her. In the first half of the video, Ariana seems so caught up in looking pretty that some of the fun gets lost. Don’t get me wrong, she looks AMAZING, but she still would have looked amazing if she loosened up a bit and hit the choreography harder or let her face move around naturally. Once the video moves on from Mean Girls and Bring It On though, the personality that we’ve come to know and love from Ariana Grande shines.
She nails the emotion of Jenna in the 13 Going on 30 (an underrated masterpiece I watch multiple times a year) dollhouse scene and by the time she rolls up as Elle Woods, she’s fully committed. Another great addition: Ariana as Elle’s reading material:
WE STAN. I’m also obsessed with Ariana’s take on the Bend and Snap, which is a slightly different than the move we saw in Legally Blonde because they didn’t want to get sued. Still cute though.
The “thank u, next” video was released on Friday. Part 1 of the behind-the-scenes video followed. It’s Monday and we’re still dissecting and discussing this video. This is the best work of Ariana Grande’s career. I’m IMPRESSED.
Here’s the full video:
And watch Ariana take you behind-the-scenes: