Shortly after her breakup with fiancé Pete Davidson, Ariana Grande released “thank u, next,” which immediately reached the top of the charts. The song itself leads Grande’s fifth studio album, which will have the same title, to be released later this year.
While people have different opinions about the intentions behind the song, most critics agree that Grande did a great job; not only is it catchy, but it also has empowering lyrics that focus on self-love before anything else. Quinn Moreland, a journalist from Pitchfork, praised Grande, stating, "She doesn't stir the pot about her recent breakup, as the common media narrative might expect; instead she finds the value in letting go. It's a generosity rarely spotted these days, when it is so much more tempting to clap back with vinegar instead of honey… it's an eloquent display of inner strength and incisive self-awareness."
The song became even more prevalent when it became an Internet meme. The title itself, “thank u, next”—as well as the lyrics, “one taught me love / one taught me patience / and one taught me pain”—inspired the memes which have appeared all over social media.
With its growing popularity, fans speculated when the music video would be released. On Nov. 20 Grande began teasing about the video by posting pictures on her Instagram with captions quoting Mean Girls and Legally Blonde; Grande even posted one picture with Jennifer Coolidge, an actress from the latter film. On Nov. 22, Grande posted a picture in a cheerleader uniform with a caption quoting another famous 2000 movie, Bring It On. On Nov. 27, she released a teaser video featuring many familiar faces—including YouTubers Troye Sivan, Colleen Ballinger, and Gabriella DeMartino, Mean Girls actors Jonathan Bennett and Stefanie Drummond, and Grande's former Victorious co-stars Elizabeth Gillies, Daniella Monet and Matt Bennett.
The video made its official premiere on Youtube on Nov. 30 and soon became not only the most viewed video on Youtube in 24 hours, but also the fastest video to reach 100 million views. The video, as suspected, included references to Mean Girls, Bring It On, 13 Going on 30, and Legally Blonde and included each cameo that Grande hinted on her Instagram, as well as a Kris Jenner appearance.
The first scene of the video includes Grande writing in a burn book, like that of Mean Girls, as she lies on her bed. The book includes pictures of Big Sean, Ricky Alvarez, and Pete Davidson. The next scene cuts to her in a hallway surrounded by friends, reminiscent of Regina George walking down the hall. The scene then switches to the girls dancing in the classic Mean Girls’ Mrs. Claus dresses, with Kris Jenner as the excited mom screaming and videotaping from the audience.
The next section of scenes is a tribute to Bring It On, with the first showing Grande and her love interest brushing their teeth similarly to a scene in the film. The next scene shows Grande in a cheerleading competition. The video then switches to 13 Going on 30, showing Grande helping out at a wedding and then playing with a dollhouse.
Finally, the video pays tribute to Legally Blonde, as Grande drives in a convertible with a license plate that says “7 Rings,” the name of another song on her upcoming album. The next scene has Grande in a beauty salon with Jennifer Coolidge and includes The Bend and Snap, a famous dance from the movie. The following scenes show Grande running on a treadmill, flashing back to previous scenes in the video.
Overall, most fans were very impressed with the music video. The multitude of cameos and the allusions to famous 2000s movies, as well as the catchy song, made the video incredibly popular days after its release.