They say the best revenge is living well, but “they” never had the chance to release a new single just a few minutes before their ex was on live national television. Pop star Ariana Grande, who recently broke off her engagement to Saturday Night Live cast member Pete Davidson, had the chance and took it on Saturday night, tweeting out a link to her new song, “Thank U, Next” about a half-hour before SNL began. And yes, it’s a breakup song:
But although the brusque title and the timing of the release may seem a little petty, “Thank U, Next” isn’t a scorched earther like “You’re So Vain” or “I’ll Feel A Whole Lot Better.” Instead, Grande looks back over her (very public) dating history, thanking her exes for what she learned from each of them. If you’re not up-to-date on Grande’s personal life, her opening lyric will get you up to speed:
Thought I’d end up with Sean, but he wasn’t a match.
Wrote some songs about Ricky, now I listen and laugh.
Even almost got married, and for Pete I’m so thankful,
Wish I could say thank you to Malcolm, ’cause he was an angel.
“Sean is rapper Big Sean, who Grande broke up with in 2015; “Ricky” is dancer Ricky Alvarez, who Grande dated until a 2016 split; and “Malcolm” is late rapper Mac Miller, another Grande ex. As for “Pete,” it’s unclear who Grande is referring to, but it’s probably the same person she wrote the mysterious song “Pete Davidson” about. Grande goes on to thank her exes for what she learned from them, singing, “One taught me love, one taught me patience, and one taught me pain.” As New York Magazine’s Rachel Handler noticed, that’s four exes mentioned by name, but only three credited with teaching Grande anything, which is bad news for whoever lost this game of lyrical musical chairs:
In the second verse, Grande sings about focusing on herself, singing that she’s “met someone else,” whose name is “Ari.” Apple Music botched the line in their version of the song’s lyrics, rendering it as “Aubrey.” Grande threw a little shade their way, thanking Spotify for not making the same mistake:
Grande and Pete Davidson have had some public friction since their breakup: After Davidson released a Saturday Night Live promo in which he jokingly proposed to musical guest Maggie Rogers, Grande subtweeted him for “clinging” to relevancy. Davidson, upon realizing how upset his ex was by his jokes about their breakup, reportedly cancelled a sketch about his relationship with Grande that had been planned for Saturday night’s show. By then, she was in a more conciliatory mood:
Grande has said that her next album will be titled Thank U, Next, but hasn’t yet revealed a release date or track list. That might be making Pete Davidson nervous—it’s unclear if he knew about the new song in advance—but Big Sean and Ricky Alvarez don’t have to worry about being blindsided: Grande says she played them the song before its release.
Celebrity breakups come and go, but good manners are forever.