Thank U, Next is Ariana Grande's fifth studio album which was released on February 8, 2019 by Republic Records (six months after the release of her previous album, "Sweetener").
In September 2018, Ariana Grande's old friend and ex-boyfriend, rapper Mac Miller, died from a drug overdose. The following month, she announced that she would take a break from music.
However, that same month, Grande revealed that she had been in the studio working on new music, and she announced the Sweetener World Tour." She stated that the tour would support both her fourth studio album, "Sweetener" and her upcoming fifth studio album. In October 2018, Grande broke off her engagement with comedian Pete Davidson.
The Jungle City Studios in New York City served as the album's main recording location. Grande started recording the album in October 2018, less than two months after the release of her previous album, "Sweetener."
The album was mainly recorded at Jungle City Studios in New York City, with additional recording locations including Right Track Studios in the same city, MXM and Conway Recording Studios in Los Angeles, California, The Record Plant in Hollywood, California, Wolf Cousins Studios in Stockholm, Sweden, and Entirety Studios in London, England.
Grande opted to work with producers and songwriters that she was already friends with, stating the decision "kind of saved my life. It was kind of this super challenging chapter that sucked, and then my friends made it amazing and special."
Tommy Brown produced the most tracks with five, and collaborated on production with Charles Anderson and Michael Foster of Social House on two of them. Meanwhile, Max Martin and Ilya Salmanzadeh produced four tracks together.
Songwriter Victoria Monét said that Grande and her team worked quickly, writing and recording "nine songs or so" after one week. Unlike her previous albums, most recording sessions were finished after just two weeks. Grande's team always had champagne in the studio, notably Veuve Clicquot, as later referenced in her collaboration with Monét, "Monopoly".
Monét co-wrote six of the album's songs, including "Ghostin" which was the first song written for the album and took the longest to write. Grande described it as the hardest song to write for the album and initially requested the song not be included on the final tracklisting.
- Imagine 3:32
- Needy 2:51
- NASA 3:02
- Bloodline 3:37
- Fake Smile 3:29
- Bad Idea 4:27
- Make Up 2:21
- Ghostin 4:31
- In My Head 3:43
- 7 Rings 2:59
- Thank U, Next 3:27
- Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I'm Bored 3:10
Japanese deluxe edition bonus tracks
- 7 Rings (Remix) (featuring 2 Chainz) 2:58
- Monopoly (with Victoria Monet) 2:38
"Thank U Next" debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 with 360,000 album-equivalent units, of which 116,000 were pure album sales.
The album became Ariana Grande's fourth number-one album in the country, and broke the record for the largest streaming week ever for a pop album. On the Billboard Hot 100 chart, issue dated February 20, all twelve songs from the album appeared simultaneously.
Eleven of these songs appeared in the top 40, breaking the record for the most simultaneous top 40 songs by a female artist. The album would spend a second week at number one selling 151,000 units.
It is Grande's first album to spend two weeks at number one on the Billboard 200. The album has also spent 19 non-consecutive weeks in the top ten of the Billboard 200 chart.
In the United Kingdom, "Thank U, Next" debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart with 65,000 album-equivalent units. The album became Grande's third number-one on the chart and marked her largest album opening week to date there.
Earning 59 million streams, it set a new record for most album streams ever by a female artist in a week in the country, beating her previous album, "Sweetener."
Following its release, "Break Up with Your Girlfriend, I'm Bored" debuted at number one on the UK Singles Chart, replacing "7 Rings", with the latter returning to number one the following week, making Grande the first female solo artist since Madonna in 1985 to simultaneously hold the number one and two spots on the UK Singles Chart and the first musical artist to replace herself twice consecutively at number one in UK chart history. Also, "Needy" peaked at number eight on the chart.
"Thank U, Next" also was 2019's third fastest-selling download by a female artist in UK, behind Taylor Swift's album, "Lover" and Pink's album, "Hurts 2B Human."
In Ireland, the album also became Grande's third number one on the Irish Albums Chart, outselling the rest of the top five combined with nearly 5,389 units (according to Official Charts Company).
Upon its release, "Thank U, Next" became the only female album this decade to feature three Irish number-one singles. Following the success of the album, "Sweetener", it arose three places to number 8, and "Dangerous Woman" re-entered the top fifty at number 43.
In Australia, the album debuted at number one on the Australian Albums Chart, becoming Grande's fourth number one in the territory. All twelve album tracks also appeared on the ARIA Singles Chart, including nine debuts.
"Thank U, Next" has sold more than 1 million pure copies worldwide. It was the eighth best-selling album of 2019 globally and ranked fourth among female artists. Grande also ranked as the sixth best-selling artist of 2019 globally and third among female artists.
Upon release, "Thank U, Next" received widespread acclaim from music critics, with many praising its cohesiveness and production. At Metacritic, the album received a weighted average score of 86 (based on 24 reviews) indicating "critical acclaim". The metascore is the highest of Grande's career.
Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone stated that "Thank U, Next" is "one of the year's best pop albums so far, even in a 2019 that's already turning out to be a great one for new music. Thank U, Next makes you suspect that the best Ariana is yet to come."
Ross Horton from The Line of Best Fit praised both the songwriting and production of the album, stating that it is an "airtight, dense pop record with an obnoxiously brash production" and commenting that "even the most delicate, sensual things here are tightly compressed and scrubbed of anything resembling acoustics."
AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine also gave the album a positive review, commenting that "Grande is swaggering with [...] confidence" and concluding that the album "embodies every aspect of Ariana Grande, the grand pop star."
Mikael Wood of the Los Angeles Times said: "Thank U, Next flaunts Grande's emotional healing; it's suffused with the joy of discovering that what didn't kill her really did make her stronger.
Michael Cragg of The Guardian commented that Thank U, Next seems to be a "result of a burst of creativity and a prevailing mood", yet criticized "7 Rings" as a "braggadocious, ice-cold low point" of the album. He concluded positively, stating that Grande is a "pop star [...] finally working out who they are and what they want to say" and compared the album to Rihanna's album, "Anti."
Helen Brown from The Independent stated that that Grande is "embracing her inner mean girl (on the sexy "Break Up with Your Girlfriend, I'm Bored") [and] owning her flaws and contradictions" on tracks such as "Needy" and "NASA", yet concluded that the album lacks enough "vocal grit".
Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine awarded the album three-and-a-half stars out of five, believing that the album "is easily Grande's most sonically consistent effort to date". He criticized that "some of the [...] tracks tend to blur together", but ultimately concluded in saying that Grande's "refusal to fake a smile that proves to be what makes her so damn likeable."
In a capsule review for Vice, Robert Christgau gave the album a three-star honorable mention and summed it up as Grande's "maturing from multitracked studio trickeration to straight love songs—love songs an old grouch might complain are all too superstar-specific"; the title track and "Ghostin'" were cited as highlights.