Sometimes, I get to speak at my old high school. It makes me feel REAL OLD instead of the SO YOUNG that I’m used to but it’s pretty rewarding because I get to give impressionable youth my favourite piece of non-work related advice: Break. Up. With. Him. It’s advice I wish I’d gotten, not that I really dated in high school, but it would have been nice to know for the years coming when I did start dating. The pop culture I had at that time was all telling us to do the opposite. The love songs were about staying together forever. The TV shows were shipping a true love that was found in high school and lasted FOREVER.
No one was saying, “hey, you probably won’t find real love until you’re pushing thirty and that’s OK! BREAK UP WITH SO MANY GUYS ALONG THE WAY. DON’T STAY IN SOMETHING SH-TTY JUST BECAUSE YOU WANT TO BE LIKE NATHAN AND HALEY.” That was a One Tree Hill reference. You are welcome.
Ariana Grande is making a great case for the “Break Up With Him” mantra. Ariana Grande has turned her breakups into an empowering anthem. She’s turned her very public summer fling, her Fast Flame, into one of the most badass moves of her career. This could have been embarrassing. She got engaged to that goofy guy from SNL after like a week of dating. His job is to make jokes about his life, meaning that the chances that she would be the butt of some of those jokes were high. Ariana Grande refused to sit back and be the joke. On Friday, she was subtweeting Pete and by Saturday, half an hour before SNL, Ariana dropped “Thank U, Next.”
She knew something was going to happen on Saturday Night Live and she changed the conversation, and she did it with her music. Every artist should take note, especially Messy Nicki. Ariana Grande could also teach a master class in making petty look classy. She named names! Big Sean, the doughnut shop guy also known as Ricky Alvarez, Pete Davidson, and Mac Miller are all namechecked. The song is called “Thank U, Next” – which sounds HARSH— and yet, it’s actually really nice. The tone of this song is NOT what I was expecting when the rumours started that Ariana would be dropping a new single. I was expecting DRAMA. Instead, we got lyrics like this…
Thought I'd end up with Sean
But he wasn't a match
Wrote some songs about Ricky
Now I listen and laugh
Even almost got married
And for Pete, I'm so thankful
Wish I could say, "Thank you" to Malcolm
'Cause he was an angel
… The “now I listen and laugh” about Ricky is as shady as she gets. Otherwise, the song is mostly a genuine, sweet send-off to the boys of her past. It’s so nice, Ariana even let Big Sean and Ricky listen to it before it was released.
One taught me love
One taught me patience
And one taught me pain
Thank you, next
I'm so f-ckin' grateful for my ex
That last line is Lainey’s favourite. It’s a GREAT line. It’s a GREAT single. It’s got bars. I’m in awe of it. Halfway through the song, Ariana reveals that the love she’s moved on to is with herself. I haven’t been able to get through it without tearing up yet. Ariana Grande DID THAT. Over the weekend, Black Twitter did its thing and dubbed black Ariana Grande fans as Mocha Grandes, originating from this tweet by Shenae Curry, I think. Feel free to correct me. My point: I’m officially a Mocha Grande, no foam, lots of sugar. Thank you, next.
By the time Pete Davidson got around to saying his own “nice” thing about Ariana on SNL, no one cared because we were all just listening to “Thank U, Next” on repeat.
That should be the last thing Pete says about Ariana on SNL. Do you think it will be?
I’ve established that “Thank U, Next” is brilliant but its smartest attribute is that it’s at once a kiss-off breakup song while also being a self-empowerment BOP. It also challenges the outdated way of looking at love lost that I railed against after Cassie and Diddy broke up. I love the idea of looking back on relationships as successes or thinking about what you can learn from them instead of seeing every breakup as a failure. If a breakup isn’t a failure, it won’t be so hard to Break. Up. With. Him.
I go back to this tweet by one of my fave writers Ijeoma Oluo often when I need a reminder of my favourite non-work advice to high school kids:
I guess what I'm saying is, start them young. When your young girl kicks a trifling dude to the curb, when she decides "this is not worthy of my excellence" - THROW HER A FUCKING PARTY, BUY HER CAKE, SING HER A SONG.— Ijeoma Oluo (@IjeomaOluo) January 30, 2018
The song we’re singing for young girls who end their relationships when they want to – because they can and because it’s OK – it’s called “Thank U, Next.” Ariana Grande had to go through some heartbreak and pain but hey, at least the song is a smash.