top of page

ALBUM REVIEW 'Eternal Sunshine' by Ariana Grande

If you haven’t heard of Ariana Grande’s latest album release, you might have heard news of her elsewhere. It’s not like she’s been in the shadows lately; with the announcement of her upcoming appearance in the film version of much-beloved musical ‘Wicked’, and a few juicy gossip pieces that, as ever, talk about her love life, she’s not exactly been hiding away. Eternal Sunshine, released 8th March 2024, is Grande’s seventh studio album. We’re well used to hearing from her – but perhaps not quite like this.

We begin with a short introductory piece, ‘intro (end of the world)’. Almost like a diary entry, Grande ponders on her own judgement and feelings. Grande is spilling her thoughts out within the first 1 minute of the album; am I in the right relationship? Does this guy like me back? Do I care what other people think? It’s all a premonition for what’s the come – given that the inspiration for this album lies in a certain popular noughties film, Eternal Sunshine for the Spotless Mind (hence the album name), we’re led to believe this intro is our window into the themes and storyline of the album.

We quickly follow up with ‘bye’. A short snappy title, with equally snappy brass stabs and a beat that immediately leads you to realise this is about to expand to something far bigger. And you’d be correct. The choruses move in an orchestral way, although there is still some element of disco pop that makes you want to move. It’s possible Grande is postulating on her recent divorce – but as much as the lyrics try to sound casual and fleeting you can’t ignore the struggle of leaving a relationship that you really tried hard to work on. Grande collaborated with lyricist Max Martin, who holds production credits for a rather extensive list of hits, which is perhaps what gives this song such an edge over the rest of the album.

‘don’t wanna break up again’ feels oddly familiar. Perhaps its similarities with ‘Break Up with Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored’ indicate a shift in the storyline for Grande. We’ve just heard about the after-thoughts of a breakup, now we’re learning the reason behind it. The backing track is kept relatively simple allowing us space to reflect on the lyrics, although of course Grande’s signature harmonies dance around marvellously.

‘Saturn Returns Interlude’ is placed, oddly, only two songs into the album. Typically an interlude would fall about halfway through, but perhaps this positioning fits the narrative a little better. In just a few words, astrologist Diana Garland tells us we’re at a point where we need to ‘wake up’. Like the album’s namesake film, very early on Grande is alluding us to what’s to come, and what this album is ultimately about. We’ve been through the breakup, and now it’s time to see what else is out there.

‘eternal sunshine’ follows, which only goes to show further that the film is really getting started now. Through breathy head-vocals Ariana talks about what it’s like to want to erase the memories, in a bid to move on. ‘eternal sunshine’ is layered with a deep bass and sharp stabbing snare drum sounds not unheard of in the rap scene; in fact Grande said in an interview that she wants this album to speak to her fans the same way male rap artists do. On the face of it, “you’re just my eternal sunshine” sounds like a rather sweet way to address someone. But with the context of the film we know it’s a little more sinister.

Next up, ‘supernatural’, is a rather abrupt jump into a new relationship. Which, if you know Grande’s supposed dating history, doesn’t seem so out of the ordinary. But we know this film-inspired album is a blend of fiction and reality, and so it’s probably best to give the benefit of the doubt. With vocal effects that offer an ethereal, star-struck sound, and a light background of strings it’s very reminiscent of the ‘floating on air’ feeling you get when you start to get feelings for someone.

‘true story’ is edgier, snarling and villainous. Supposedly this story is entirely fictional, but when you consider Grande’s recent clash with the public eye it’s not hard to imagine it just might be true. The tone and chords of this song, along with the heavy synth bass, might conjure up images of Destiny’s Child, Ginuwine, TLC, among others. Grande is strategizing against future attacks, but damn she sounds good on the defence.

Following along with the obvious influences of nineties R&B, ‘the boy is mine’ is an obvious take on Brandy and Monica’s ‘The Boy Is Mine’. It’s another bass-heavy track, with chorus vocals eerily similar to Brandy’s own. It continues the bad girl vibes in an unapologetic manner, but it’s haunted by Grande’s own accusations of being a home-wrecker. It is, however, pretty obvious by now that if any of this is based on reality Grande is trying to tell us she simply doesn’t care what we think of her. Martin, who has left fingerprints all over this album, has made good use of his signature staccato percussion in this song, aligning in perfect harmony with Grande’s stuttered vocals.

At last we meet the album’s lead single, ‘yes, and?’. Released in January, right at the tail end of an accumulation of accusations and gossip about Grande, ‘yes, and?’ does a stellar job of bringing vogue back. You can almost hear Madonna’s applause from here. The background vocal track, an intricate arrangement made by Martin and ILYA (another name that pops up frequently on this album’s tracklist), runs through the song seamlessly in a beat that’s hard to ignore. ‘yes, and?’ can be likened to Beyonce’s 2023 single ‘Break My Soul’, and the lyrics feel like a follow-on from Lady Gaga’s ‘Born This Way’. But this time the message isn’t demographical – everyone can learn from this.

‘we can’t be friends (wait for your love)’ is next up – and it’s a doozy. We’ve been through the spectrum of self-improvement (or not, in the case of ‘true story’ and ‘the boy is mine’), self-reflection, and most importantly moving on. But now, it’s like being brought back down to earth. ‘we can’t be friends (wait for your love)’ is a painful ode to Grande’s marriage and, ultimately, her divorce. Knowing that you want so badly to remain on good terms with the person you shared a life with, but that it just isn’t possible – Ariana is opening her wounds with this song and letting them bleed all over us. Accompanied by a rather emotional string symphony, but with an upbeat bassline that keeps the song moving rather than feeling stagnant, this song brings us back to the true reason for the album. It’s sad when a relationship, but you have to live with the hope that one day the anger will die down and you might just be able to reunite in friendship. It’s a truly cinematic song that yet again reminds you, if you’ve seen it, of it’s film influence.

Followed by another introspective piece, ‘i wish i hated you’ is a sparkly, delicate reflection of wishing your feelings could be different. It’s true that breakups are easier to handle when you have a level of anger you can hold onto, otherwise what are you left with? The glittering synth on top of Ariana’s vocals feel almost dreamlike, like something you’d expect in a video game.

‘imperfect for you’ is another oddly placed song. One song ago we were almost crying alongside Grande, now we’re being sung this charming, romantic song. It’s jarring, but ‘imperfect for you’ is just strong enough to overlook this. It’s a call to acknowledge our faults and realise you can be more than enough for someone in spite of these flaws. The flangy guitar accompanies the lyrics perfectly – I’ve often thought adding flange to a guitar is a good way to give an imperfect or incomplete sound to any song.

The album finishes off with ‘ordinary things (feat. Nonna)’. The tone is similar to that of The Weeknd, frequent collaborator with Grande. It feels like driving through a city after date night, but finishes beautifully with Nonna’s wise words – Nonna being Grande’s grandmother – which just goes to show that maybe the key to growing up is learning that the best advice is from those who have already lived through life, and in matters of the heart, those of a mature age who’ve had the time to figure it out will always have the most wisdom.

Eternal Sunshine is ultimately a divorce album, but there’s so much more to it. We’re not unused to these types of concept albums, but interspersed with songs that speak of learning to be sure of oneself, caring less about what others think, and really just following your gut is a sure-fire way to keep a breakup album diverse enough that nobody gets left out. Just about everyone can find a song on this album that they relate to in some way, which is ultimately what music is about in the end.

22 views1 comment

Recent Posts

See All

1 commentaire

Noté 0 étoile sur 5.
Pas encore de note

Ajouter une note
27 mars
Noté 5 étoiles sur 5.

love Her!!

bottom of page