Album Reviews, Arts & Entertainment, Music

‘eternal sunshine’ plays with fire, and I’m not just talking about Ethan Slater’s hair

Ariana Grande, our reigning Queen of Pop, has blessed us with many studio albums, from Yours, Truly, which embodies the pure innocence and joy that accompanies young love, to thank u, next, where we find out that the honeymoon phase doesn’t actually last forever, to her last album, Positions, where female sexuality is celebrated.

Flash forward three years later with the record-breaking release of eternal sunshine, which received over 195 million global streams in its first week. Without even mentioning Grande’s adultery scandals and boyfriend and SpongeBob Squarepants: The Musical actor Ethan Slater’s eerie resemblance to Frankie Grande (seriously, look it up!), it’s impossible not to read between the lyrics. The songs are both rich with salacious yet graceful snubs to the former Mr. Grande and a profound love confession to you-know-who (ends in “Squarepants”). Sorry Dalton, but consider yourself a new verse in the “thank u, next” reprise. The title and themes of the concept album mimic the 2004 film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, wherein a woman wishes to erase memories of her ex-boyfriend. Ariana is evidently writing these songs to help her get through her divorce and embrace a new romance. The titular song even hints at Dalton being her “eternal sunshine,” something she wants to “wipe [from her] mind.”

The album’s genre veers slightly away from the contemporary pop form of Positions, instead playing around with a pop ballad and R&B style. It opens with “intro (end of the world)” and right off the bat, the divorce rumours prove to be true. The catchy track “bye” focuses on Grande’s split from Dalton, but afterwards, he is out of the spotlight (save for the slights sprinkled in throughout the remaining songs). Instead, the focus shifts to Grande’s feelings for her new beau/Krusty Krab employee. The title track exudes adultery, yet I still memorized all the lyrics, while the lead single “yes, and?” spotlights self-possession. 

Overall, the album’s tone is hopeful as Ariana embraces this new era. Controversial choice of muse aside, her signature whistle notes are angelic and the vulnerable lyrics leave nothing on the table with respect to her current relationship status. Ariana unabashedly bares her heart to us, which is itself a different kind of strength. 

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