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The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Grande’s ‘Eternal Sunshine’ is Spotless


The world has changed a lot since 2020, and so has Ariana Grande.

During the challenging COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, Grande’s release of her sophisticated R&B-infused album “Positions” provided a musical escape. Featuring collaborations with artists such as Doja Cat, Ty Dolla $ign and The Weeknd, the album was packed with mainstream styles and catchy hooks. 

In contrast, Grande’s new album “Eternal Sunshine” adds a more intimate and illuminating layer to her existing body of work. With its dreamlike melodies, clever lyrics and ethereal harmonies, the album seamlessly weaves through vulnerable emotions and cherished musical genres. 

“Eternal Sunshine” opens with the lyric, “How can I tell if I’m in the right relationship?” This sets the stage for the internal dialogue and self-discovery in the tracks that follow. Transitioning seamlessly into the upbeat and spirited track “bye,” Grande explores the themes of moving on with a cheeky and radiant beat in the background. 

The tone gradually shifts into deeper emotional territory with the self-empowering track “don’t wanna break up again,” where Grande confronts her feelings of neglect and abandonment. She states, “I fall asleep crying / You turn up the TV / You don’t wanna hear me.” However, despite the weight of the subject matter, the melancholic lyrics are sonically disguised with Grande’s airy vocals and an infectious pop melody created with her signature high harmonies.

The album’s interlude samples a video of astrologer Diana Garland, who says that “Saturn comes along and hits you over the head…and says, ‘Wake up.’” Though the clip is in reference to the personal astrological phenomenon of the Saturn return, Grande’s choice to include it likely alludes to her personal journey of self-realization as well as the album’s thematic inspiration: the 2004 romantic drama “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.” The film follows two main characters who were once in love as they awake from a surgery that has removed the other from their memory

Grande explores these themes of heartbreak and longing in the tracks “eternal sunshine,” “i wish i hated you” and “we can’t be friends (wait for your love).” In “eternal sunshine,” she writes, “Get me out of this loop / So now we play our separate scenes,” and in “i wish i hated you,” she writes, “I rearrange my memories / I try to rewrite our life.” Through candid introspection, Grande explores the layers of love and heartbreak that can make one regret its existence in the first place. 

This theme is most vividly portrayed in the track and music video for “we can’t be friends (wait for your love).” In the video, Grande and her love interest, played by Evan Peters, transition from lovers to strangers as mementos — like their pictures and Grande’s necklace — morph into foreign objects. Against heartbeats in the background elevated by synths and electro-house sounds, Ariana Grande sings “You cling to your papers and pens / Wait until you like me again,” referring to the contract to erase one’s memories. 

One of the boldest stylistic departures of the entire album for Grande emerges in a track called “imperfect for you.” Combining a country cadence, R&B beats and pop vocal stylings, the song highlights the intricate and unexplainable nature of relationships. Grande echoes the sentiment of the lyrics, “Messy, completely distressed” and describes her relationship as a strangely fulfilling journey, describing the wreckage as a “happy disaster.” There is also a sense of acceptance as she sings, “How could we know / We’d rearrange all the cosmos?” This song beautifully encapsulates the blurring of boundaries between perfection and imperfection, as seen in the title, which could easily be read or heard as “I’m perfect for you.” 

In addition to her emotionally resonant songs, listeners cannot overlook Grande’s masterful skill of creating trendy and popular music. Her single “yes, and?” is a self-empowering pop song with a refreshing house twist. With lyrics encouraging resilience like “And if you find yourself in a dark situation / Just turn on your light and be like / ‘Yes, and?’” Grande raises the spirit of the album. Similarly, her song “the boy is mine” is another sassy addition to the track list, showcasing a playful and lighthearted pop beat that celebrates confidence.

Harnessing a blend of synth-pop house, and R&B over her career, Ariana Grande has honed a unique and infectious style for herself in the industry. Despite featuring no other artists (unless you count her grandmother, who appears on the final track), her album is diverse in styles, and her genuine and intimate lyricism take center stage. Releasing nothing short of an innovative and moving album, Grande has done it again.

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