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Thank U, Next

By Samantha Latos
On December 7, 2018

Ariana Grande made history last week when she finally premiered the music video for her hit song, “Thank U, Next.” It’s a colorful and interactive series of sketches honoring iconic films from the early 2000s. Considering many of her fans are around her age, they grew up with these images she recreated. Grande had been posting teaser pictures on Instagram leading up to it, revealing that she’d be referencing “Mean Girls” with her version of the iconic character Regina George. Fans of the movie recognize the straight long blonde hair, pale pink cardigan, and miniskirt anywhere. Pop culture fans had been anxiously awaiting the video for weeks. Given the uproar of attention it’s gotten, it’s safe to say that it was well worth the wait.

“Thank U, Next” broke the record for the fastest YouTube video to reach one million likes. It only took 33.9 minutes, reportedly taking the spot of "Fake Love" by BTS, a South Korean boy band, which took 39 minutes.

 It broke the YouTube comments section a couple of hours after it premiered. So many people were watching it at the same time that the comments were delayed from posting.

People have speculated why the song and video releases are so far apart. The song “Thank U, Next” was available on iTunes on November 3rd. The music video didn’t come out until the 30th. Clearly, Grande knew what she was doing. Having been in the music industry for years, she’s learned how to keep people on their toes. The people responded just how she hoped they would. The “Thank U, Next” video hit one hundred million views this week.

The song is an honest articulation of her appreciation for her past relationships. Instead of looking back on her exes with bitterness, she realizes that each of them taught her something different about herself. They all helped her become a stronger, more loving and patient person. The positivity embedded in her lyrics deems this a new kind of break up song.

It is still a breakup song, however. The opening lines name four of her exes, including Big Sean, Ricky Alvarez, Pete Davidson, and the late Mac Miller.

The first reference to Davidson, her most recent ex, is in the beginning of the video during the “How do I ever begin to explain Regina George” scene. Stefanie Drummond, who played North Shore student Bethany Byrd, said, “Ariana broke off an engagement, so I found a guy to propose to me, and I broke off an engagement."

There’s some subtle and juicy details during the scene where Grande’s flipping through her version of Regina’s burn book. Instead of using it to bully people like Regina did, Grande turns hers into an opportunity to write nice things about her exes.

Davidson’s page reads, "I love u always," "HUUUUGE,” and "Sry I dipped." The promise to love him forever isn’t surprising, given they were engaged to be married. It’s ironically written near her apology for ending their relationship so abruptly. Fans ate this up, taking it as a sign that the two were in a place where they could make jokes about it. Turns out that might not be true, since it made the news that Davidson blocked her on December 5th.

Writing the word huge is clearly alluding to the girth and size of Davidson’s manhood. Strange as it seems, Grande openly joked about it on Twitter when they first got together this summer. She started a whole trend online, and people started dubbing certain acts of kindness “Big dick energy.” This was when the couple were blindly in love, and comfortable with making jokes of that nature public.

This comes up again later in the video too, when Grande is depicting Elle Woods, of “Legally Blonde.” During an instrumental part of the song, she’s seen getting her nails done. She’s having a conversation with her nail tech, played by the incomparable Jennifer Coolidge. Grande said, “I mean, he was really cute, yanno? He was really cute. And it was really big.” Fans laugh about it, since it’s obvious that she’s referencing Davidson.

The visuals truly make the video. Grande takes on the role of several well-known female leads. The video recreates looks and scenes from “Mean Girls,” “Bring It On,” “13 Going On 30,” and “Legally Blonde.” It’s been rumored that these are Grande’s favorite movies. This makes fans happy, since the song is all about Grande facing her breakups with grace and continuing on her life journey in pursuit of happiness.

Grande included a lot of her friends in the video, many of which happen to be famous as well. This included Liz Gillies, who costarred with Grande on the Nickelodeon show “Victorious.” Gillies and Grande go way back. They first met during production of “13: The Musical” when they were a couple of teenagers. Gillies played Cady Herring, a member of Regina’s posse. She gave a mean performance of Lindsay Lohan’s character.

Matt Bennett, another familiar face from “Victorious,” made an appearance during one of the “Bring It On” scenes. He played Cliff Pantone, the love interest, during the teeth-brushing scene. Grande and Bennett often interact on social media, and they’ve been good friends since their goofy days on Nickelodeon.

The “Thank U, Next” music video is full of the people and things closest to Grande. She surrounded her positive break up song with visuals of what makes her happiest: her favorite movies and people. The smashing success of the video brings ongoing joy to Arianators worldwide.

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