College of DuPage's Student Newspaper

The Courier

College of DuPage's Student Newspaper

The Courier

Title Art by ADHL
“Eva's World” Page 25
Title Art by ADHL
“Eva's World” Page 24
Title Art by ADHL
“Eva's World” Page 25
Title Art by ADHL
“Eva's World” Page 24

“Eternal Sunshine:” Doesn’t Ariana Grande Know That The Internet Never Forgets?

Ariana Grande released her seventh album “Eternal Sunshine” about the highs and lows of being in love in an R&B, synth pop display.
“Eternal Sunshine:” Doesn’t Ariana Grande Know That The Internet Never Forgets?

Ariana Grande’s seventh album “Eternal Sunshine” was recently released as a response to the onslaught of personal criticism from the court of public opinion regarding her newest romance. Yet, her relationship and the album itself speak to a greater social commentary around the ethics of dating and fame, making this album an interesting reflection of current societal attitudes.

The singer and actress has always had a quite tumultuous dating history, often referencing these relationships within her songs. She has endured the loss of an ex in Mac Miller (which some online commenters egregiously blamed her for), a very public broken engagement to notorious womanizer Pete Davidson and then a marriage, followed by a divorce two years later.

No controversy would be as severe, however, as her most recent partner of choice. Grande allegedly had an affair in 2023 with her married Wicked costar Ethan Slater. The timeline of their relationship amid divorce filings is unbearably messy, but both Grande’s and Slater’s teams maintain the relationship happened after both couples were separated.

Regardless, the internet still casts its judgment, especially as Slater and his high school sweetheart wife, Lilly Jay, welcomed a son in 2022. Criticisms were lodged against both Slater and Grande as the relationship occurred while Jay was raising a newborn. Memes regarding Slater’s role in the SpongeBob musical flooded the internet, questioning why Grande would date Slater.

Jay did not stay silent with her story. She exclusively told Page Six that, “[Ariana’s] the story, really. Not a girl’s girl. My family is just collateral damage,” effectively breaking the internet in the process.

Grande’s newest album “Eternal Sunshine” undoubtedly responds to these critiques. She fluctuates between insisting she does not care about outside noise to acknowledging personal anxieties and doubts regarding her love stories. Her introductory lyrics of the album, located on the song “intro (end of the world),” state “How can I tell if I am in the right relationship?”  The song reflects a constant unease that she feels within romance.

The album takes on a moody, soft pop feel. It stands in stark contrast with her pink girl pop album “Thank U, Next” and the carefree confidence of the R&B album “Positions.” Rather, like many of her musical counterparts in the 2020s, Grande gets much more emotional with her lyricism. The music itself is more tonal, relying on a strong drum beat and synth-pop amongst her classic, breezy and almost light vocals.

Grande keeps hoping this time will be different, but even she doubts it. The song “don’t wanna break up again” recounts the emotional turmoil of her relationships. She sings, “It’s breaking my heart/ To keep breaking yours again,” struggling to find the line where she should stay or leave. Clearly, she hasn’t found the boundary yet.

Grande ultimately decides to leave it up to the cosmos within her fifth track, “eternal sunshine,” citing that she “won’t break, can’t shake/ This fate, rewrite.” The song is a clear reference to the movie “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” and Grande wills herself to “wipe [her] mind” of the relationship. She cannot escape these fated relationships, so she seeks to forget them, singing that, “Just so I feel less insane.” The nature-sounds intro quickly gives way to a trap beat and high-pitched soprano declarations that only cement this expected ending. There is no escape for Grande from the dissolution of this relationship.

Yet, Grande quickly falls under the spell of love once again in track 8, “the boy is mine.” Perhaps this is her eternal sunshine antidote. She declares the new relationship, “Might be meant to be, can’t unsee it.” Her vocals enunciate every word amongst a synth-pop beat, taking ownership over this new love interest. Her head voice is almost cheeky, believing that fate has finally given true love to her this time as “the stars, they aligned” and that “the boy is divine.”

It marks a crucial uptick in confidence in the album. Grande’s single release “yes, and?” is a clear declaration: “Now I’m so done with caring/ What you think, no, I won’t hide/ Underneath your own projections.” Grande accuses the internet of caring too much, using some sort of therapy speak to place blame back on anonymous commenters. It is an upbeat and frivolous song with a million remixes (likely to get her positioned on the charts), dancing away any criticisms that the public holds. At her most petulant, she announces, “Why do you care so much/ whose – I ride?”

Grande battles between the lies she accuses her ex of telling her in the first portion of the album, but also the runaway narrative that the internet has created about her new relationship in the second half. Where does the truth lie in these sordid affairs?

Grande does acknowledge some culpability within her tenth song, “we can’t be friends (wait for your love).” She acquiesces to the optics of this relationship, claiming: “But I don’t want to feed this monstrous fine/ Just want to let this story die.” Yet, that fated pull of her new romance is too strong to forget about. She declares, “Love, I’ll wait for your love.” Evidence to suggest that they were having an emotional affair?

These songs, while catchy, are not particularly memorable. Grande excels at her vocals, yet many of the tracks prefer to use a breathy voice, perhaps symbolic of her emotional unease. The beats between songs are too similar and become fairly repetitive after track five.

Perhaps the album and its message could land in a different cultural landscape. The fall of celebrity culture has been brewing for quite some time, and it has only been exacerbated in a post-COVID, inflationary world. Grande sort of acknowledges this collective fatigue in “yes, and?” but fails to realize that her tax bracket is the one at the root of it.

Long gone are the 2000s and 2010s girl boss displays of hoarded wealth acceptable and admirable. This is only coupled with the fact that people are feeling more and more disenfranchised by the current political system. Grande has not realized yet that her celebrity status, for better or for worse, makes her the most visible to the public eye. So when the world needs something to blame, her head is first on the chopping block.

2.5/5

 

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