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Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

REVIEW: Ariana Grande’s new album is my eternal sunshine

Photo courtesy of Republic Records

Lightly veiled astrology references and whole-hearted emotion are wrapped up wonderfully in Ariana Grande’s newest album, “eternal sunshine.” 

The 13-track project is her seventh studio album. She clocked in for a total of 36 minutes in collaboration with other industry heavyweights, such as Max Martin (who helped write or produce 11 of 13 songs), ILYA, Shintaro Yasuda, Nick Lee and others. 

She went from a fun and bubbly “thank u, next” to a masterpiece of an album as she tells her point of view in “eternal sunshine.” She additionally sings on a few untrue ideas and concepts throughout the project. 

“eternal sunshine” emerges as a deeply introspective masterpiece that showcases the artist’s artistic evolution since her last album in 2020. Since the chart topping “Positions,” Grande entered a few new chapters in her life and career. 

The album explores profound themes in her personal life, notably inspired by the demise of her two-year relationship with ex-husband Dalton Gomez during the COVID-19 pandemic. Grande filed for divorce in February 2023, citing “irreconcilable differences.”

At the core of “eternal sunshine” is the astrological concept of Saturn Return, symbolizing mental clarity in her thirties. Her tracks explore the messy aftermath of her divorce, the perspective-shifting changes of her Saturn Return and the complexities of memory. 

The motif intersects with the thematic exploration inspired by the Oscar-winning film “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” delving into fate, love and memory in evolving romantic relationships.

Grande embraces her vulnerability in a way I haven’t heard in her music before. Her melodies are immaculate, of course, but her lyrics hit harder than usual because she tapped into more personal ideas and concepts that people appreciate and relate to more. 

The first track is the introduction to the album “intro (end of the world).” To sum it up, she asks a question that has been burning in the back of her mind for quite some time: “If the sun refused to shine / baby, would I still be your lover?” 

She obviously received her answer with the following song on the album, “bye.” She sings “bye-bye / boy, bye” in response to the reaction she received. The second song in the album is a bop. 

Grande’s exploration of pop and R&B is evident in the adventurous melodies and the album’s thematic murkiness. The self-penned lyrics reveal remarkable personal growth, making “eternal sunshine” her most vulnerable musical release as she continues the album with other perspectives. 

“bye” is defiant while “don’t wanna break up again” dives into apathy and fatigue. It is gloomy with dance beats that amplify her emotional resonance.

The interlude, “Saturn Returns,” features astrologer Diana Garland. She offers insight into the astrological phenomenon. 

The titular track, “eternal sunshine,” and others like “supernatural” and “true story” further explore love, magic and their intermingling with personal narratives.

“eternal sunshine” is my favorite song on the album. Grande expresses her feelings of a betrayal she experienced. She sings about the lies of the character in question. In the chorus, she continues to mention another woman joining her picture: “Now she’s in my bed, laying on your chest.” The lyrics become more upsetting as they continue to the next verse. 

The track is the perfect combination of pop and romanticized melancholy to sing along to but also feel what she is going through. 

The further into the album you get, the more you hear how “eternal sunshine” is not so sunny. The imagery of the album art shows Grande glowing in the foreground but surrounded by darkness behind her. 

“yes, and?” stands out as a response to criticism, spending a week on the Hot 100 and receiving a remix with Mariah Carey. I enjoyed this teaser to “eternal sunshine.” 

“we can’t be friends (wait for your love)” draws thematic and productional parallels to Grande’s earlier hit “Love Me Harder” with The Weeknd.

“i wish i hated you” and “imperfect for you” continue the exploration of relationships, while “ordinary things” featuring Nonna, Grande’s grandmother, imparts sage relationship advice, closing the album on a heartfelt note.

Grande’s willingness to lay bare her heart and mind elevates this collection to a poignant and unforgettable listening experience.

“eternal sunshine” is not merely an album; it’s a musical memoir, a personal journey through love, loss and self-discovery. It was an essential step in Grande’s career and talents as an artist. 

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About the Contributor
Piper Pinnetti
Piper Pinnetti, Reporter
Piper Pinnetti is a reporter for The Sunflower. Pinnetti previously designed content for The Sunflower's Instagram. Pinnetti is a junior at Wichita State, majoring in journalism with the hopes of pursuing a career in writing. Pinnetti uses she/her pronouns.

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