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Ariana Grande Says Her Next Album Is “Not Particularly Uplifting”

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The project is titled after her recent single, “thank u, next.”

Ariana Grande is less than four months out from the release of her fourth album, Sweetener, and yet her next project is expected at any time. She surprised fans with the new album’s title track, “thank u, next,” last month, scoring her first No. 1 hit in the process. In a new interview with Billboard, Grande detailed what to expect from the new project, which she wrote and recorded in the wake of Mac Miller’s death and the end of her engagement to comedian Pete Davidson.

Grande explained that the project was inspired by “feminine energy and champagne and music and laughter and crying. This [album’s] not particularly uplifting. A lot of it sounds really upbeat, but it’s actually a super sad chapter.”

Although she largely declined to comment on individual tracks, Billboard reported that the songs are intensely autobiographical. “Some of the lyrics are so unambiguously personal and gutting that even if the singer were up for talking about them, most questions would be redundant,” wrote Billboard’s Natalie Wiener. The song “7 Rings,” however, was inspired by Grande spontaneously buying Tiffany engagement rings for all of her collaborators.

Elsewhere in the interview, Grande discussed the surprise release of “thank u, next,” and how she wants to exercise more control over her career.

“My dream has always been to be—obviously not a rapper, but, like, to put out music in the way that a rapper does,“ she said, citing the spontaneous release schedule that many hip-hop artists enjoy. "It’s just like, ‘Bruh, I just want to fucking talk to my fans and sing and write music and drop it the way these boys do. Why do they get to make records like that and I don’t?’ So I do and I did and I am, and I will continue to.”

Although “thank u, next” has become a huge hit, Grande said that wasn’t her main concern. “It is so exciting to see something be received well. That’s a beautiful thing. But it’s even more beautiful to be honest and just do something,” she said. “To drop a record on a Saturday night because you feel like it, and because your heart’s going to explode if you don’t—to take back your narrative.”

The track is best known for Grande name-dropping her famous exes, but there’s also a notable section about self-love:

Plus, I met someone else
We havin' better discussions
I know they say I move on too fast
But this one gon' last
‘Cause her name is Ari
And I’m so good with that

Grande revealed that she feared the lyrics wouldn’t be well received. “When I felt myself saying, ‘Cause her name is Ari,’ I knew it was a special line, but part of me was like, ‘Oh, my God, that’s kind of corny,’” she said. “But the other part of me was like, ‘That’s beautiful and I need to keep it in.’ I know that once I put something into a song, then it’s real.”

Her Sweetener tour kicks off in March, and she explained that material from both albums will be incorporated into the shows. “I don’t want to do what people tell me to do, I don’t want to conform to the pop star agenda,“ she said. "I want to do it on my own terms from now on. If I want to tour two albums at once, I’m going to tour two albums at once. If I want to drop a third album while I’m on tour [in 2019], I’ll do that too.”

There’s still no official release date for thank u, next, but Grande has previously told paparazzi that it could drop before the end of 2018. By the sound of it, the album will definitely be out before her tour starts in March. Until then, fans will have to wait and see what comes next.

Read Ariana Grande’s full Billboard interview here and catch up on all the lyrics to Sweetener on Genius now.