The cover of Ariana Grande’s single “thank u, next” released in November to promote the full album. | Wiki­media Commons

Fol­lowing an absolutely electric release of two singles com­plete with elab­orate music videos to promote her new album, the long-awaited release of Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next” dropped Friday, Feb. 8.

Grande described the album as a “friendship anthem,” revealing a new focus on friendship, appro­priate given the tumul­tuous love life of the past year. With this statement, the album can be boiled down to two words: female empow­erment.

After receiving national attention for breaking off her engagement to Pete Davidson and fol­lowing her ex-boyfriend Mac Miller’s unex­pected passing, Grande released “thank u, next,” a saucy look back at her pre­vious rela­tion­ships. The song was the first from the album to be released and was dropped in early November.

Sharing a name with the album, the song “thank u, next” sums up Grande’s sen­timent toward these past rela­tion­ships. With chorus lyrics like “Wrote some songs about Ricky, now I listen and laugh,” Grande doesn’t leave much to be read between the lines. Rather, in her usual con­fident and decisive style, she singles out ex-boyfriends (or ex-fiances) by name. Bold.

This song shook the nation soon after its release, and Instagram was flooded with homogenous cap­tions, uncov­ering just how much the phrase “thank you, next” res­onates with the dating culture of mil­len­nials and Gen Zers. The song also received a flood of support on Twitter by fans who eagerly sup­ported Grande’s self-assured attitude in the face of tragedy.

Less than a month before the scheduled album release, Grande dropped another teaser song, “7 rings,” which debuted as No. 1 on “Bill­board Hot 100,” further con­firming public dis­po­sition toward the album.

With track titles like “i can be needy” and “break up with your girl­friend, i’m bored” (note the lack of cap­i­tal­ization), Grande shows that she doesn’t need to put on an appearance  of having it all together, but rather acknowl­edges that she has faults — such as being too needy — but chooses not to dwell on them. Instead of obsessing over how many minutes to wait to text a guy back, Grande ushers in a new age of upfront speech, throwing grammar to the wind and telling guys exactly how she feels, specif­i­cally when she’s bored and wants them to dump their girl­friends.

“‘I’ma need space, I’ma, I’ma need/You know I’m a star; space, I’ma need space/ I’ma need space, I’ma, I’ma need space,” the chart-topping, Grammy-award-winning pop sen­sation sings poet­i­cally in “NASA.”

Com­bined with the overtly fem­inist dec­la­ration, “This is one small step for woman,/One giant leap for wom­ankind” at the beginning of “NASA,” lines such as this build to an overall message of empow­erment and honesty, regarding Grande’s per­sonal rela­tionship expe­ri­ences, some­thing women of all ages can relate to.

Grande’s ten­dency to write fem­inist lyrics is nothing new. Her August 2018 album “Sweetener” fea­tured track titles like  “God is a woman” and “suc­cessful,” and lyrics like “girl, you too, you are so young,/And beau­tiful and so suc­cessful.”

Both album covers are Grande’s first in color, rather than black and white, reflecting her new­found identity and con­fi­dence only a year fol­lowing a ter­rorist attack at her 2017 Man­chester concert, in which 22 people were killed and over 500 injured.

Although Grande stuck to her typical fem­inist theme, “thank u, next” focused on moving on from dif­ficult cir­cum­stances, whereas “Sweetener” spoke more about love and hap­piness, reflecting her former period of engagement and rel­ative peace. Sig­nif­icant pro­motion of her first two singles built up public excitement toward the album, and, as usual, Grande sup­plies enough genuine heart to live up to the hype.