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Ariana Grande’s “Eternal Sunshine” Is Very Cloudy

"I think I kind of learned that I wasn't really listening to myself in a lot of areas where I could have been," Grande tells Zane Lowe on Apple Music 1.

(Mar. 8) Ariana Grande has become a voice of pop-R&B love and “screw you” hymns. Eternal Sunshine is a perfect example of how that can become stale. Bred as a hybrid between the twinkly production on Sweetener (2018) and the aggressive flow of thank u, next (2019), the 30-year-old’s grand return is the equivalent of releasing nine album variants from the same photoshoot, all slightly differentiated by pose. 

Sure, there are earworm tracks worth the extra repeat, but the album’s anthemic lead single isn’t one of them, sadly. In a 35-minute album space, Grande’s thoughtful observance is at an all-time high. Nonetheless, “yes, and?” is a too-on-the-nose hater bullet that punctures that dreamy framework.

Rather, the success belongs to the soft-pop tracks. “bye,” “supernatural,” “true story,” “we can’t be friends (wait for your love)” and “imperfect for you” all warrant that repeat. Since 2021’s Positions, Grande unlocked a husky sultriness previously missing in her high-octave belts on Dangerous Woman (2016) and even the lowkey Sweetener. At least thank u, next tried a pseudo-matureness. However, Eternal Sunshine proves it’s not just about showy production and vocal acrobatics. Lyrics enhance attitude and, when they “maximize their slay,” a body of work can stand on its own two feet.

In Ariana Grande’s grand return to music, 'Eternal Sunshine' is iridescent as much as it is overcast with post-divorce feelings.
Ariana Grande for ‘Eternal Sunshine’ (Katia Temkin)

Eternal Sunshine sometimes reads like a goofy diary entry from Jennifer Garner’s character in 13 Going On 30. The album’s main appeal is the light within Grande as she journeys through new relationships while healing from her divorce from Dalton Gomez. It’s not aggressive or bitter. Instead, it’s a self-assessing, grieving period full of hope. Naturally, this brings along the cheugy affirmations of “i wish i hated you” and “ordinary things,” minus the latter’s chorus. 

In an Apple Music 1 interview with Zane Lowe, Grande expanded on her newfound “inner voice” and centering herself musically. “In all seriousness, I think I kind of learned that I wasn’t really listening to myself in a lot of areas where I could have been. It’s like my nervous system was screaming at me to make certain changes for a long time, but I think I was kind of a person who wasn’t listening.”

Grande also commented on where the magic in her life is. “In art, in human connection, in the people I love and laughter and creating something you’re proud of – there’s so much. Today I’ll say… definitely I’ll focus it on the art. There’s so much magic in art. I think the only possible way to survive is with gratitude – is to stay rooted in gratitude and, sort of, be thankful every day for everything. It’s so easily taken away and it’s so easy to get wrapped up in negativity or what challenges are here in the day.”

Watch the full interview below:
In other pop news, Grande is set to perform on Saturday Night Live on March 9 with host Josh Brolin. Ariana Grande’s latest album, Eternal Sunshine, is out everywhere. Stream it below.
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