Ariana Grande’s Eternal Sunshine: Album Review

I’ve been an Ariana Grande stan ever since the release of her fifth studio album thank u, next back in 2019. I also embarrassingly admit that my loyalty faltered through her recent scandals, rumours and allegations about her past and present relationships.

Grande answers all the questions everyone has and more in her first concept album, eternal sunshine. It’s also one of her shortest albums to date, standing at thirty-five minutes and twenty-six seconds.

She had a hand in producing all the tracks, evident in how eternal sunshine takes lessons from its recent predecessors and learns from the resurgence of House, imbues it with R’n’B and even Trap — most prominent in the title track. This new sound is crisp. And one that demands patience from its listeners.

The opening track ‘intro (end of the world)’ is a short acoustic song that allows Grande to ponder about her love: “If the sun refused to shine / Baby, would I still be your lover?” It’s hauntingly beautiful, a perfect preliminary track that sets up the rest of the album.

eternal sunshine’s overarching narrative is simple to follow and works wonders. ‘bye’ is upbeat and catchy, containing the best pre-chorus in the album as the punchy chords, vocals and popping enunciations take centre stage.

Grande sings “boy, bye” in the chorus as she takes “what’s mine”. However, it’s disappointingly the least lyrically interesting track. The stripped-back pop ballad ‘i wish i hated you’ acts as a commentary on her past relationship with her ex-husband Dalton Gomez about how she wishes he was “worse to me”.

It’s sorrowful hearing her voice break towards the end, realising that there is no one to blame for the breakdown of their marriage. She finds solace with her boyfriend Ethan Slater — her co-star in the upcoming film ‘Wicked’ — in the final track ‘ordinary things (feat. Nonna)’. She cherishes her relationship, comparing him to a “first sip of wine after a long day”.

Nonna’s monologue towards the end is very reminiscent of the short recordings in SZA’s debut album: “And as I told her, never go to bed without kissin’ goodnight / That’s the worst thing to do, don’t ever, ever do that”.

eternal sunshine isn’t just moving on from the past. Grande confronts our perceptions towards her. ‘true story’ is flush with an echoey beat and a futuristic-esque production. Grande states that she’ll “play the villain if you need me”. She boldly follows it with ‘the boy is mine’, a heavy R’n’B tempo-changing track with an interpolated track from the 90’s hit by Brandy and Monica with the same name all about being the ‘bad girl’ and the heavily house-inspired lead single, ‘yes, and?’

Lead single ‘yes, and?’ offical music video

Within the hyper-gossip stage of social media, Grande answers the allegations and hearsay by cheekily poking fun at them with this three-track run. She holds her steadfast presence, focusing her energy on being “protected” and “sexy”. It’s iconic. It’s fun. It’s peak Ariana Grande.

One of the standouts for me is ‘supernatural’. The slower tempo and R’n’B beat make the track memorable. You’re in her shoes as she plummets further and further into romance, making peace with it as she doesn’t “fight the fall”. It’s a beautiful love song and one of her best songs to date.

Ariana Grande pushes new territory sonically, but it does fall short of being groundbreaking. Nonetheless, the background context more than makes up for it, leading to its longevity and creating discussions for casual listeners to dedicated stans for years to come.

It’s an album of reflection, growth, love, relationships and trying again and again.

For devotees like me, it’s refreshing to hear. It’s not an album to blast to in the club; that’s not who she is anymore. You might find yourself skipping its more somber and sluggish tracks. All 13 tracks are greater than the sum of its parts.

eternal sunshine forbids farewell to the past and looks to a brighter future, all while keeping the sass. It’s honest. It’s vulnerable. It’s quietly gorgeous.

eternal sunshine is now available for streaming on all services.

By Mahal Cuya Creative Writing Officer

Header image via Billboard, taken from ‘yes, and?’ official music video

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