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An emotional journey: Ariana Grande speaks her truth in new album ‘eternal sunshine’

Grande’s seventh studio album explores pain, heartbreak, new beginnings

<p>The album’s title is inspired by the 2004 film “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” and contains references to the film in its lyrical content and music videos.&nbsp;</p><p>Courtesy of Republic Records</p>

The album’s title is inspired by the 2004 film “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” and contains references to the film in its lyrical content and music videos. 

Courtesy of Republic Records

Ariana Grande is no stranger to the spotlight. From her early roots in musical theater — performing on Broadway at just 14 years old — and on Nickelodeon, Grande’s angelic vocals and impressive four-octave range have rocketed her to stardom since her first album “Yours Truly” was released in 2013. With an incredibly accomplished career spanning more than a decade, she is one of the most popular musicians in the industry, currently ranking 5th in the world for monthly listeners on Spotify.

More recently, the singer’s media presence has been quite chaotic. She underwent a divorce from Dalton Gomez after just over two years of marriage and subsequently entered a controversial relationship with her “Wicked” co-star Ethan Slater. Critics were quick to bash Grande online, making fun of her new relationship and shaming her for being a “homewrecker” to Slater’s family. When it was announced in January that Grande was releasing new music, fans were eager to know how the project would address this situation.

Grande released the highly anticipated “eternal sunshine” on March 8 — her seventh studio project and first long-form release since “Positions” in October 2020. In an epic response to those critiquing her every move, Grande speaks her unapologetic truth on the album, taking listeners through her heartbreak and subsequent budding relationship with 13 new songs.

The title is a reference to the 2004 film “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet, in which a couple undergoes a medical procedure to have each other erased from their memories following a painful breakup. For Grande, a longtime fan of Carrey and the film, there were many layers to using this concept for her album. Though it is not officially affiliated with “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” the album contains several references to the film both in its lyrical content and music videos.


In line with the film, themes of pain, heartbreak and new beginnings define the album, taking listeners through stages of a breakup. Opening with a slow ballad on “intro (end of the world),” Grande ponders whether or not to stay in her current relationship, weighing the pros and cons of speaking her truth and wondering what she really wants. 

She then enters into the next track, “bye,” with newfound strength and courage, repeatedly exclaiming “boy, bye” and “it’s over” throughout the song’s chorus. 

Though “bye” is much more upbeat and self-assured than the previous song, Grande emphasizes that this confidence did not come easily. In the song’s opening line, she references how past heartbreaks have prepared her to take on this new challenge, singing “this ain’t the first time I’ve been hostage to these tears.” The bridge similarly captures such mixed feelings, with Grande calling the situation “bittersweet” and commenting on how challenging it was for her to sing about. 

This tug-of-war between positive and negative feelings is consistent throughout the album, highlighting the complex blend of emotions commonly associated with a breakup. Immediately following the strong and independent “bye” comes “don’t wanna break up again,” which sees Grande again grappling with the dilemma of protecting either her marriage or her mental health. Later songs like “we can’t be friends (wait for your love)” and “i wish i hated you” similarly explore the aftermath of the separation, showing Grande at her most vulnerable.

Sonically, “eternal sunshine” explores new territories while staying true to Grande’s roots. Though the album’s first single “yes, and?” had seemingly marked the beginning of a new sound for Grande — with light disco and house influences — the majority of the project sticks to the classic pop and R&B sound that her fans know and love. 

Tracks like “true story” and “supernatural” particularly showcase Grande’s multifaceted talents as an artist — flaunting expertly crafted production, strong and catchy melodies and the tight, multilayered vocal harmonies she is known for.

Though some fans immediately took to social media to attack her ex-husband after the album was released, Grande maintains that such openness about her relationship and pain should not be a cause for any further harm or negativity. 

“Although this album captures a lot of painful moments, it also is woven together with a through line of deep, sincere love,” she wrote in a post on her Instagram story. “If you cannot hear that, please listen more closely.”


Campbell Loi

Campbell Loi, a senior staff writer and copy editor for The Herald, is a junior from Syracuse, NY studying Public Health and International and Public Affairs. Outside of academics, she loves all things music and enjoys performing, arranging, and constantly listening to songs in her free time.

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