"If anybody were to do a nice breakup song, it's Ariana Grande," says co-writer (and IRL Ariana pal) Victoria Monet. "She doesn't have a bad bone. She's considerate of others even when they're at their worst."
Of course, being nice doesn't catapult you to No. 1 – not does it inspire countless memes. But introducing a new phrase into the popular lexicon? Now we're getting warmer.
"That phrase is really what made the song special," Monet opines. "We started humming melodies [during the songwriting session], and I know that Ariana says 'thank you, next' so much, and those words fit perfectly with that melody. That phrase is very her: It's direct, and like, 'I'm grateful for things that have happened, but I'm gonna move on and not deal with the bulls--t.'"
And B.S. inspired a bit of the song's candor. While Monet acknowledges there was some hesitation about the vulnerability of calling out her exes by name (including recent ex-fiancé Pete Davidson and the late Mac Miller), she says Grande eventually realized people were going to talk about her life no matter what. "With this, she's able to narrate her own story through music," she explains. “It was a great time -- just sipping champagne and really just celebrating."
With no official announcement, "Thank U, Next" arrived out of nowhere on Nov. 3, not even three months after Grande had dropped an entirely different album. Traditional industry logic would label that “market oversaturation,” but the pop star demonstrated that she knew the game was changing. Thanks to the headline-grabbing lyrics, the relatability of the message and its quietly inescapable vocal hooks, "Thank U, Next," was propelled to the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming her first chart leader. When the Thank U, Next album arrived to near-unanimous acclaim and record first-week numbers in early 2019, her status as the premier pop trailblazer of the late 2010s was ratified.
And while there was a sense that Ariana was taking a hip-hop-inspired approach to releasing music on "next" -- just hitting the studio and uploading it shortly thereafter without a big promo push -- its rollout was hardly without strategy. After all, there was a blockbuster, star-studded video on the way.