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Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

Student newspaper serving Tulane University, Uptown New Orleans

The Tulane Hullabaloo

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Ariana Grande returns with ‘eternal sunshine’

Taylor Fishman

After a three-year hiatus, Ariana Grande released her seventh album, “eternal sunshine.” Named after the 2007 romance movie “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” Grande’s album beautifully explores heartbreak, growth and self-love. 

“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” follows Clementine and Joel — played by Kate Winslet and Jim Carrey, respectively — as they navigate their breakup and undergo sci-fi-themed procedures to make them forget each other. Grande noted in a recent interview with Zane Lowe for Apple Music that the connection between the movie and the album title stems both from her struggles leaving a relationship and her admiration for actor Jim Carrey.  

Grande recorded “eternal sunshine” over three and a half months. She worked closely with esteemed producer Max Martin, who has produced songs on all of her albums. “eternal sunshine” consists of 13 songs and runs just over 35 minutes. This is her shortest album yet, but arguably her most meaningful. 

In December 2022, Grande began filming for the upcoming “Wicked” movie. In her interview with Zach Sang for Amazon Music, she describes the process of transforming herself from “popstar Ari” to “human Ari” for “Wicked.” “I think that time away was really healing,” she said to Lowe. She expressed that the transformation allowed her to write this album in all its bittersweet honesty. 

The album begins with the song “intro (end of the world).” She prompts a question, one reflective of the album as a whole: “how do you know that you’re in the right relationship?” This question is answered on the album’s last track, when her Nonna speaks in “ordinary things.” 

Despite its title, Grande’s previous album, “thank u, next,” is undeniably more playful than “eternal sunshine.” One of the hits of the previous album, “7 Rings,” is a girl boss mantra; her new album, on the other hand, takes a more delicate view of the independence and confidence these “7 Rings” girl bosses possess. 

Her second track, “bye,” captures this perfectly. While on the Zach Sang Show, Grande said that this was the hardest song for her to write. She intended the song not as a “F-you” anti-boy anthem, but as a song about self-worth and independence. “I wanted it to be rooted in self-awareness and not a [expletive] you, you go, but with love, I’m emigrating from the situation,” Grande said. 

The album continues with “don’t wanna break up again,” which feeds into “Saturn Returns Interlude,” a snippet recording of astrological counselor Diana Garland discussing the return of Saturn. The concept is that every 27 to 30 years, the planet cycles through the zodiac and returns to the same position as one’s birth. The return can cause self-revelation and significant mental transitions when Saturn “hits you over the head.” Grande was 30 at the time she wrote the album. 

The fifth track bears the album’s title. At the beginning of the song, listeners can hear Grande’s laugh clipped from a viral video of her and Mac Miller. Following this laugh, in a barely detectable robotic tone, is the sentence, “You’re supposed to be here with me.” She sighs and begins singing. Grande claims the song “fell into place” while putting the album together. 

The middle of the album shifts in tone to an RnB, ‘90s vibe. “supernatural” explores the magical feeling of a new relationship, possibly one with “Wicked” co-star Ethan Slater. “true story,” is an oxymoron of sorts, as the song condemns the media and their gossip. The unfinished, original version of the song was leaked in June 2023 alongside the viral “fantasize.” In the Sang interview, she discussed “reclaiming” it and reworking it to the one currently on the album. The song sets up the “bad girl” persona she takes on in “the boy is mine.” 

“the boy is mine” nods to and takes inspiration from the iconic 1998 Brandy & Monica song. Amid homewrecking allegations, this song seemed like a “bad idea” to Grande, but she knew how much the fans loved “fantasize.” She says in the Lowe interview that “there is a large group of my fans that love a bad girl anthem, and, this is … an elevated version of that.”

The next track, “yes, and?” was her single prior to the album, paying homage to Madonna’s “Vogue.” The 10th track on the album, “we can’t be friends (wait for your love),” resembles Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own,” with a descending chord progression on the chorus that tempts danceable sadness. I won’t be surprised if this song is played in nightclubs.

 

As the second single, the song was accompanied with an outstandingly produced music video. Starring Grande and Evan Peters, the short-film music video references “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” on many occasions. “The video that we made for ‘we can’t be friends’ is, to me, the album in a video,” Grande said

“I wish I hated you” has a unique melody and a concise yet complex concept of still having love for someone you are no longer in a relationship with. The album finishes with “ordinary things,” which features a snippet of Grande’s Nonna wisely answering her question: “Never go to bed without kissin’ goodnight … and if you don’t feel comfortable doing it, you’re in the wrong place. Get out.”

These past couple of years have been a lot for Grande to handle, and she graciously opened her heart to her listeners to take us through her journey of loss, growth and self-love.

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