meta-scriptNew Music Friday: Listen To Songs From Ariana Grande, Lil Nas X, Jay-Z & More | GRAMMY.com
Ariana Grande on The Voice set in 2021
Ariana Grande on 'The Voice' set in 2021.

Photo: Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

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New Music Friday: Listen To Songs From Ariana Grande, Lil Nas X, Jay-Z & More

The year is already off to a massive start, with Jan. 12 spawning new releases from 21 Savage, ITZY, Jennifer Lopez and many more. Check out some of the hotly anticipated tracks here.

GRAMMYs/Jan 12, 2024 - 04:50 pm

January always marks fresh starts and clean slates as the world collectively turns the page from one year to the next. The world of music is no exception: the second week of 2024 is filled with artists embarking on new eras and album cycles.

On the full-length front, 21 Savage unveiled his third solo LP, american dream, with guest assists from the likes of Summer Walker ("Prove It"), Doja Cat ("N.H.I.E."), Young Thug and Metro Boomin ("Pop Ur S–t") and more while Kali Uchis celebrates her just-announced first pregnancy with longtime boyfriend Don Toliver by delivering her second Spanish-language studio set Orchídeas.

Meanwhile, Reneé Rapp brings the new Mean Girls musical movie to life as Gen Z's Regina George, with a soundtrack that also features Megan Thee Stallion, Auli'i Cravalho, Angourie Rice and more, and K-pop act ITZY makes a statement on their sophomore Korean-language album, Born To Be, which gives all five members a chance to shine with individual solo tracks on top of swaggering bangers like "Untouchable" and the title track.  

In addition to star-studded album drops, Jan. 12 sees several big single releases too. Press play on hotly anticipated musical resets from Ariana Grande and Lil Nas X, lead singles from Jennifer Lopez and Sheryl Crow, and a monumental collaboration between D'Angelo and Jay-Z for the new movie The Book of Clarence below.

Ariana Grande — "yes, and?"

Ariana Grande is officially back and ready to own everything. For "yes, and?" — her first new musical offering since 2020's Positions — the superstar is doling out heavy-hitting words to live by, disguised as a glossy pop confection that takes an irresistible cue from Madonna's "Vogue."

Both an exercise in self-affirmation and a runway-ready Pride anthem, "yes, and?" finds Grande unapologetically sharing her truth in a way she hasn't since 2018's "thank u, next." Her voice dripping with honey, the soon-to-be Wicked star slyly addresses the recent tabloid fodder surrounding her personal life. 

"Now I'm so done with caring/ What you think, no, I won't hide/ Underneath your own projections/ Or change my most authentic life," she vows in between spine-tingling harmonies and plenty of vocal fireworks. Ari only gets more blunt from there, clapping back with her whole chest about the obsession with her body, relationship status, sex life and more. In her words, "Yes…and?" 

Jennifer Lopez — "Can't Get Enough"

Jennifer Lopez's ninth studio album, This Is Me… Now, has been a long time coming. But if lead single "Can't Get Enough" is any indication, the sequel to 2002's This Is Me… Then will be well worth the wait when it arrives Feb. 16. The track, which samples the late Alton Ellis' 1967 release "Still in Love," is a fizzy, funky delight that pops like a blast of champagne straight out the bottle.

On the song's chorus, the multi-hyphenate superstar giddily professes just how much she loves being in love (and back in love with now-husband Ben Affleck). And while the accompanying music video pokes fun at her trio of past marriages, fans can rest assured she's singing the lovestruck lyrics to the same Dunkin'-lovin' guy she was serenading 21 years ago on This Is Me… Then.

Jeymes Samuel x D'Angelo x Jay-Z — "I Want You Forever"

A new D'Angelo single would be a major event. So would a new Jay-Z single. After all, it's quickly coming up on 10 years since the neo-soul star released his last album, 2014's Black Messiah and the rap mogul's last solo single was the title track off 2017's 4:44.

However, director Jeymes Samuel managed to coax both men back into the studio to join forces for the soundtrack of his new biblical film The Book of Clarence starring Lakeith Stanfield. On "I Want You Forever," D'Angelo holds court with a hypnotic, repetitive hook before ceding the mic to Hov for the song's lone, pleading verse. 

Lil Nas X — "J CHRIST"

Nearly three years after giving the devil a lap dance in the hellish music video for his No. 1 hit "Montero (Call Me By Your Name)," Lil Nas X is flipping the script and ascending to heaven on his new single "J CHRIST." Well, not for too long — turns out a giant stripper pole connects the celestial realm with the fires of purgatory, and Lil Nas X is equally at home in each.

The track's high-concept, cinematic music video has it all: angelic doppelgängers of everyone from Taylor Swift, Mariah Carey and Oprah to Michael Jackson and Barack Obama; Lil Nas cooking up a cauldron filled with human limbs; and yes, even the rapper pinned to a cross in a visual sure to enrage the critics who were already up in arms before the track was even released. But by song's end, as Lil Nas X takes on the role of Noah emerging from a worldwide flood, the GRAMMY winner makes clear the hip-hop banger isn't just religious cosplay — it's a new beginning.

Sheryl Crow — "Evolution"

Sheryl Crow is uncharacteristically on edge on "Evolution," the lead single and title track of her forthcoming 11th studio album. The queen of bright singer/songwriter jams like "All I Wanna Do" and "Soak Up the Sun" (and newly inducted Rock and Roll Hall of Famer) takes aim at the encroaching threat of artificial intelligence to the music industry and creativity at large on the spacey track. 

To top it all off, she even recruited Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine to concoct a supercharged guitar solo that ratchets the uneasiness up to 11 as Crow warns, "Where are we headed in this paradise?/ We are passengers and there's no one at the wheel."

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Sheryl Crow press photo 2024
Sheryl Crow

Photo: Dove Shore

interview

Sheryl Crow's 'Evolution': The Rock Icon On Her "Liberating" New Album, The Song That's Her "Favorite Child" & More

As Sheryl Crow adds another album to her catalog, the freshly minted Rock & Roll Hall of Famer reflects on the major moments, musings and mushroom trips that led her to the unexpected new project.

GRAMMYs/Apr 4, 2024 - 04:24 pm

When Sheryl Crow released her tenth studio album, 2019's Threads, she declared it'd be her last — even calling it "a beautiful final statement."

"People don't listen to whole bodies of work anymore. In fact, I'm not sure they even listen to a whole song anymore," Crow explains. "So it seemed kind of, not only futile, but also, at this stage, it seems like a long process that's expensive when really, it's best to put out something you really believe in."

As it turns out, she really believed in her eleventh album, Evolution

Crow's music has always been as insightful as it is catchy, and Evolution is perhaps the most existential example of that. Throughout, the nine-time GRAMMY winner  poignantly muses over the state of the world and humankind, while also reflecting on the moments and the ideals that still give her hope. Along the way, she throws in very Sheryl Crow quips ("Anger sucks, but at least your brand's trending," she sings on "Broken Record") and makes some important statements ("We are brilliant, we are kind/ But sometimes we miss the glaring signs," she urges on the title track).

If Evolution ends up being Crow's actual last album, she'd certainly be going out in signature style. It's a culmination of what's made her music so timeless: unabashed honesty, soulful musicality, and unbridled joy. 

GRAMMY.com sat down with Crow to discuss her unexpected album, her "liberating" new creative process, and major moments that have made her career feel like a fairy tale.

After declaring that you wouldn't make any more albums, how did creating Evolution change your perspective on the rest of your career? Do you think you'll go back to making albums?

Well, this was not like any experience I have ever had. I've never made a record where I wasn't there for it. I mean, I was there, but when I typically make a record, everything starts and ends with me. 

This was me sending a guitar vocal to this incredible producer, Mike Elizondo, who basically was like Martin Scorsese. He would take my little screenplay and just build this cinematic landscape around it. I've never had that experience where I walk in and hear myself in the context of something I've never heard before. And it was really a beautiful experience. 

Once I got over the fact that I'm not playing everything — once you check your ego and go, Wait a minute, this is exactly what you wanted. You wanted your stories, your thoughts to be built on — it made it so different than any process I've ever experienced. 

Will I go back and make records the way I used to? I don't know. I'm going to quit saying I'm never gonna do an album again, because I don't know. [Laughs.]

You've said that this is kind of a diary turned into an album. You can actually feel that in some of the songs. I can envision you sitting down and just spilling your heart out, and then it turning into a song.

I've never made a record where I just wrote the song and then let it go, and then it came back to me. It was a really colossal gift that I gave myself, to let go of it and be okay with what came back to me. 

Luckily, there was no disappointment in what came back, because I know Mike Elizondo so well — like, for 20 years. And the interesting thing about this process is the whole thing came together over one song that we put on the record [last]. 

It's called "Digging In The Dirt," it's a Peter Gabriel cover. It's on the deluxe [version of Evolution]. I called Mike, I said, "I have been really soul searching. I've done a guided mushroom tour. I am really trying to navigate how I'm feeling about this moment in our humanity, and I want to do this song 'Digging In The Dirt,' would you produce it?" He said yes. 

We sent it to Peter, and quite a long time went by, and [when we] got it back, he'd put himself on it. Then, it was like, Okay, we have an album.

I imagine that you probably weren't thinking he would put himself on the cover.

I wasn't. We sent it to him and he really liked it. And I said, "If, you know… no pressure!" 

Of course, it's a compliment. But I think his work is pretty emblematic of what this record is about: Digging deep and taking no prisoners, calling out what you see, trying to figure out a way to get back to [your] authentic self — which is what every human being at some moment in their life will struggle with.

I feel like you've always been pretty outspoken in your music — not in an abrasive way, but just in a way that you're very assured of the message you're spreading.

I hope so. It's a weird thing to be now — because when you think about music before MTV and VH1, like before videos, you'd write a song and there was no image that was attached to it. Then MTV and VH1 [come along, and] suddenly you're writing little stories [for visuals], and that gets in somebody's head. Like, I can listen to Madonna song, and instead of what I experienced, I remember the video.

Now, you put out songs, and there's so much branding and social media that you're attached to before you ever hear the song, that it taints what your songs are about, you know? And it can also make you [think], I would never listen to her because she's a liberal

It's like we're programmed to decide if we could like somebody's song based on how we feel about that person. It's different than it used to be. All that to say, there's nothing that can stop me from writing, because it's the thing that I know how to do. It's a salve for me.

I saw an interview with the Guardian where you answered fan questions, and someone asked about how your creative process evolved. And you were basically like, "I don't know who's listening anymore, and I don't really care who's listening. So I'm just gonna say what I feel." Do you feel more creatively liberated than you ever have?

I do. I mean, there were many periods during the process of making the albums in the early days where I would sit and listen to the body of work and go, I gotta write something that could maybe get played at radio. There's none of that anymore. Because radio is based on streams, and streams is based on social media and TikTok, and all that stuff. And also, being my age, I can't even hope to be played anyway. So it is liberating.

That's not to say that it's not frustrating. It is frustrating to feel like you're writing some of your best work and [have to ask] Will anybody hear it? But I had to stay out of the outcome, just like I've always done, and be into the process. And that's where I continue to find my joy.

You've been able to celebrate a lot of success before the streaming era took over. This year actually marks 30 years since "All I Wanna Do," hit No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, which started a very epic run for you, including your first GRAMMY wins. What do you remember from that time?

When I reflect on that night, I think I was not equipped to hold all that. In fact, it's funny, I look at what I wore, and it was very not designer. I just was a country bumpkin. [Laughs.]

We had already toured for, like, a year, and nothing had really — I mean, it was just starting to pick up, and then "All I Wanna Do" came out, and it exploded. And then I was nominated for GRAMMYs, and won the GRAMMYs, and then the next day, we played in San Francisco like it never even happened. 

It took a little time — in fact, the better part of that year — to realize that, at that time, the GRAMMYs, which was the one night of the year that everyone tuned into, that winning a GRAMMY could change the trajectory of your career. Just from the GRAMMYs, and that visibility, my record sales expanded exponentially. It was just over the top. 

It was a whirlwind. And what looked like, to most people, as being an overnight success, to me, being a 30-year-old, I felt like I'd worked my whole life — I studied piano, I taught school. I had a whole life before I ever made it. 

It was a bizarre time. And obviously, there's no guidebook for how to become famous and how to navigate that. So I just tried to really stay in my lane, and I didn't really enjoy it as much as I could have enjoyed it. I wish now I could go back and say, "You need to enjoy it more! Be a rock star!" [Laughs.]

You were just inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame and you've hung out with — and recorded with — Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash. I would say that puts you in the ranks of a rock star!

I've been so dang lucky. And that was an amazing thing. I grew up in the middle of farmland, in a town with three stoplights. And my parents were like, "You work hard and you're a good person, good things will happen." 

You just don't really know what life can be like. As you get older, you realize that the stories we tell ourselves [when we're younger] about what [life] can be can be very limiting,

In my particular instance, I could not have envisioned knowing these massive heroes that I got to brush up against, and I got to learn from. I think there's not an award on the planet that could measure knowing some of these people. 

I mean, even singing with Willie Nelson, for as long as we've sung together is — the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame [performance with him] was just icing on the cake. To be in a "club" — as my dad calls it — with the people that wrote the book on it is just very humbling.

I read that you didn't even want to record "All I Wanna Do" at first. Is there a song you've never gotten sick of playing?

After two years of touring that record, I was so sick of ["All I Wanna Do"]. Now, of course, I play it with absolute and total gratitude, because it's taken me to St. Petersburg, to Tokyo, to Bogota, to Tel Aviv. That song has literally taken me all over the world, and I've watched people who don't speak English sing the many thousands of words in that song. 

There is one song that I love every time I play it, and when it comes on the radio, I don't turn it off. It's "My Favorite Mistake." The original intent of it, the experience of writing it, the feel of the song. It feels like the best song in my catalog.

That's a big statement! You don't see artists making that statement a lot, because they're like, "Oh, I can't pick one, they're all like my children!" 

"My Favorite Mistake" is my favorite child. There, I'll say it.

It's amazing to have a piece of work like that, right? I can imagine that you have so many songs you're proud of, but it's very cool to have a song, no matter what it meant to other people, for it to feel so special to you.

It is. You hear that woo-woo statement of "I was just a vessel." I've had a few of those songs where I go, "Okay, that's weird. I don't know how I wrote that song top to bottom." There are those songs, and I do look at that and go, "Okay, there is some divinity in that." 

Because we learn really early on how to craft a good song — what the form of a good song is, how to build interest in it, how to make it exciting, how to hold the listener. All kinds of crafting tricks. But on the odd occasion you get, like, a "Redemption Day," which you go, "I don't know how I wrote that song, because that's not even how I write," and 15 years later, Johnny Cash records it. 

There are those songs where you think you just got to be in the room for it. "My Favorite Mistake" was a little bit like that. It was so effortless. Most of the lyrics I sang onto the mic as I was playing it on bass, writing it with Jeff [Trott, Crow's frequent collaborator]. 

It just fell together, and it felt so authentic to how gutted I was over my relationship falling apart. And I think sometimes that is what makes a song universal — it's the emotion we all experience no matter what the experience looks like. 

That can very much apply to Evolution as well — in a very different way than "My Favorite Mistake," but there's a lot of relatable sentiments on this album. 

I think as a mom, as a person who's raising two young people, a lot of what I'm asking myself — and what I'm witnessing, which causes me to scratch my head — I don't know what to do with it. And you can't really engage anymore in narrative conversation where people share ideas, and try to come up with solutions, and make compromises. Because we are now being, I guess, in some ways, programmed to not do that, you know? To not give in to the other side because it might be a show of weakness.

My safe haven is to write songs, and this process was really that. And I can safely say, without ego, I love the way that it turned out, and that is because I did not produce it. It's just my songs and a great movie around them.

So your biggest takeaway from this album is that you should stop producing your own work…

My biggest takeaway is I should just sit and write little songs and then fire them off to a producer.

You know, that's what they're there for, right?

Exactly! That's why we pay you, anyway! [Laughs.]

You're such a statement-based artist and you've always stuck to your guns. What are some things that you look back on and you're like, Man, that is exactly what I set out to do?

Oh my gosh, I have so many that now I allow myself to feel proud of. I think it's our knee-jerk to not ever give ourselves a minute of homage. 

I got to sing with Pavarotti. I got to sing a piece by Mozart in front of my mom and dad in Modena Italy for War Child. The look on my parents' faces will never leave me, ever. My parents are musicians. I don't think they could have envisioned their little girl, like, singing legitimate music, after the years of piano lessons and getting my degree in voice and piano. 

To see me up there singing Mozart with Pavarotti, and then getting to play my own music with Eric Clapton backing me [at the same event], that one moment was a personal highlight for sure.

I've had some incredible experiences — getting to sing with, like you said, Dylan, and getting to walk out on stage with the Rolling Stones and strut around and be a rock star. But doesn't it all come back to your parents, ultimately? I will never forget the emotional looks on their faces. And I will carry that with me forever. 

Well, especially, like you've been talking about, coming out of such a small town. What you've accomplished is so rare, especially coming from a place with three stoplights.

To bring your parents all the way to Italy! They'd never been out of the country and [I had to say] "Okay, you guys are gonna have to get a passport. You're gonna drive an hour and a half to the airport in Memphis, Tennessee. You're gonna fly all the way across the world." 

You know, those are the things that fairy tales are made of. And I would say that my life has been a fairy tale.

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Ludwig Goransson holds his Oscar award for Best Original Score for Oppenheimer.
Ludwig Göransson holds his Oscar award for Best Original Score for Oppenheimer at the 2024 Oscars in Hollywood, CA.

 Photo: John Shearer/ WireImage/ Getty Images

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2024 Oscars: Ludwig Goransson's Masterful Composition for 'Oppenheimer' Wins Best Original Score

The 'Oppenheimer' win by one of the youngest composers to ever receive the award for Best Original Score, marks a second Oscar victory for Ludwig Goransson.

GRAMMYs/Mar 11, 2024 - 03:52 am

Ludwig Göransson's captivating composition for Oppenheimer has triumphed in the Best Original Score category at the 2024 Oscars.

Göransson's victory represents his exceptional talent and innovative approach to film scoring, as one of the youngest composers to ever receive the Best Original Score Oscar. It marks his second win in the category — he took home his first Oscar in 2019 for Black Panther. Göransson's work on Oppenheimer also won at the 2024 GRAMMYs for Best Score Soundtrack For Visual Media (Includes Film And Television).

Göransson's work stood out among the competition, going up against the scores of American Fiction, Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Killers of the Flower Moon, and Poor Things. His ability to convey deep emotional narratives and complex historical contexts through his scores has established him as one of the most innovative and sought-after composers in Hollywood.

2024 Oscars: Watch Performances & Highlights

Göransson's composition for Oppenheimer serves as the heartbeat of the movie, underpinning the film's exploration of the moral complexities and monumental impact of J. Robert Oppenheimer's work on the atomic bomb. Through his music, Göransson invites audiences into the internal and external conflicts faced by the "father of the atomic bomb," providing a sonic backdrop that is as thought-provoking as it is visceral.

Read more: Watch: Ludwig Göransson Discusses His GRAMMY Win For 'Oppenheimer' At The 2024 GRAMMYs 

The award was presented by fellow GRAMMY winners, Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo, who will star together in the Wizard of Oz big screen adaptation of the musical Wicked as Glinda and Elphaba respectively, premiering on the silver screen later this year. Speaking to the power of music to leave an indelible mark on the viewer through film, Grande said, "a great film score can leave a handprint on our hearts forever. It can ignite wonder and astonishment, make us feel sadness and longing and even transport us to new worlds." 

Göransson achieved just that. In his acceptance speech, Göransson thanked his colleagues,  and stars of the film for contributions to his distinctive vision. "Christopher Nolan, it was your idea to use a violin in the score and it allowed me to work and collaborate with my wonderful wife and acclaimed violinist, Serena Göransson," he said.

Göransson ended his speech by acknowledging his parents, "Thank you for giving me guitars and drum machines and not buying me video games." 

2024 Oscars: Billie Eilish And FINNEAS Perform A Heartrending Version Of "What Was I Made For?" From The 'Barbie' Soundtrack

Billie Eilish and FINNEAS
Finneas O'Connell and Billie Eilish show off their Oscar awards for Best Original Song for 'What Was I Made For?' from 'Barbie'' at the 96th Annual Academy Awards in Hollywood.

Photo: Arturo Holmes/Getty Images

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2024 Oscars: Billie Eilish and FINNEAS Win Best Original Song For "What Was I Made For?" From The Motion Picture 'Barbie'

The duo's win for "What Was I Made For?" [From The Motion Picture 'Barbie'] marks the second Oscar win for Billie Eilish and FINNEAS, making Eilish the youngest two-time Oscar winner ever.

GRAMMYs/Mar 11, 2024 - 02:23 am

Sibling duo Billie Eilish and FINNEAS are taking home more awards "What Was I Made For" [From The Motion Picture *Barbie*], this time at the 2024 Oscars, winning the prestigious Best Original Song award for their heartfelt ballad.

Once again, they've proven their unparalleled talent crosses effortlessly between the realms of music and film. Billie Eilish and Finneas won their first Oscar in 2022 for Best Original Song with "No Time to Die," the theme for the James Bond film of the same name.

Fittingly, the award was presented by two GRAMMY-winning musical performers, Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo, who star as Glinda and Elphaba in the Wizard of Oz big screen adaptation of the musical Wicked, premiering on the silver screen later this year. 

2024 Oscars: Watch Performances & Highlights

Eilish, who admitted to having a nightmare the night before receiving the award, burst into laughs before thanking the Academy and Barbie director Greta Gerwig, "Thank you to Greta, where did you go? I love you. Thank you for this. I'm so grateful for this song and this movie and the way that it made me feel."

The pair contended for the award against a diverse group of nominees: Diane Warren with "The Fire Inside" from "Flamin' Hot," Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt for "I'm Just Ken" also from Barbie, Jon Batiste and Dan Wilson with "It Never Went Away" from American Symphony, and Scott George for "Wahzhazhe (A Song for My People)" from Killers of the Flower Moon.

Ahead of the win, Eilish and O'Connell gave a stirring paired back performance that highlighted their power as a pair.

Read more: 2024 Oscars: Billie Eilish And FINNEAS Perform A Heartrending Version Of "What Was I Made For?" From The 'Barbie' Soundtrack

"What Was I Made For?" captivated audiences and critics alike with its poignant lyrics and emotive composition, underscoring the siblings' ability to tap into universal feelings of identity and purpose.

This Oscar win is a significant milestone for both artists, reinforcing their status as multifaceted talents capable of storytelling that resonates across different mediums. At the 2024 GRAMMYs, they had already made waves with the same song, winning Song Of The Year and Best Song Written For Visual Media.

Eilish and Finneas's journey from the music studios to the glitz of the Oscar stage is a testament to their hard work, creativity, and the deep connection they share as siblings. Their ability to collaborate and push the boundaries of music, now recognized by both the Recording Academy and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, sets a high bar for artists striving to make their mark across multiple industries.

Eilish and FINNEAS are not just a powerful duo in music but also formidable talents in film music composition. Their Oscar victory tonight is not just a win for them but a win for the incredible synergy between music and storytelling in cinema.

2024 Oscars: Watch Ryan Gosling And Mark Ronson Perform A Soaring, Hilarious Version Of "I'm Just Ken" From The 'Barbie' Soundtrack


Ariana Grande Press Photo 2024
Ariana Grande

Photo: Katia Temkin

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5 Takeaways From Ariana Grande's New Album 'Eternal Sunshine'

On her latest LP, Ariana Grande feels more self-assured than ever before — and 'eternal sunshine' details all of the life lessons and revelations that led to her most confident album yet.

GRAMMYs/Mar 8, 2024 - 09:47 pm

Ariana Grande's seventh album, eternal sunshine, begins with a single question: "How can I tell if I'm in the right relationship?"

The superstar has always been known for wearing her heart on her sleeve in her music — just look to 2018's Sweetener and especially 2019's thank you, next for a catalog of examples — and eternal sunshine is a mature evolution of that same level of transparency.

Grande's life has turned upside down since she released 2020's woozy, lovestruck Positions. She divorced husband Dalton Gomez after two years of marriage, and seemed to quickly move on to a new relationship with her Wicked co-star Ethan Slater. The huge changes created a firestorm of drama in the tabloids and across social media with fans left confused about timelines and even accusations of downright infidelity leveled against the singer.

Though she stayed largely quiet at the time, when Grande released "yes, and?" as her first new single in three years, the pop star was standing in her truth. "Now I'm so done with caring/ What you think, no, I won't hide/ Underneath your own projections/ Or change my most authentic life," she sings on the second verse.

While cleverly positioning the project as a concept album inspired by the 2004 drama Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Grande uses the rest of eternal sunshine to add to the unapologetic statements of "yes, and?", affirming through the music that there's much more to her story than tabloid headlines and internet rumors. 

In a multitude of ways, eternal sunshine showcases immense growth on Grande's part as a pop star, musician, and songwriter — but most of all, as a human being. Below, take a look at five takeaways from Ari's most self-actualized album to date.

She's Learned That Ignorance Isn't Bliss

Grande chose not to release a second single ahead of the album's March 8 unveiling, telling fans she wanted them to experience eternal sunshine in its entirety as a full body of work. Instead, she dropped second single "we can't be friends (wait for your love)" and its accompanying music video in tandem with the LP's release, and the ethereal banger perfectly encapsulates the themes of love lost — and the pain of moving on — that tie eternal sunshine to its cinematic source material starring Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet.

In the "we can't be friends" video, Grande elects to have her memories of a past relationship erased, much like Joel and Clementine in the beloved Oscar winner. "I don't wanna tiptoe, but I don't want to hide/ But I don't wanna feed this monstrous fire/ Just wanna let this story die/ And I'll be alright," she intones on the opening verse. 

However, by video's end, she, too, learns that it's better to live with the memories (and boundaries!) than to forget the love ever existed. 

Grande explores the same theme even more acutely on the album's title track, directly referencing the plot of the film as she tries "to wipe my mind/ Just so I feel less insane." (Though unlike Joel and Clementine's story, the pop star and her ex have both clearly moved on, as evidenced by the eyebrow-raising refrain: "Hope you feel alright when you're in her/ I found a good boy and he's on my side/ You're just my eternal sunshine, sunshine.")

Glinda The Good Witch Has Transformed Her

In numerous interviews ahead of the album's release, Grande spoke at length about the ways playing Glinda in the upcoming Wicked movies impacted her internally, recentered her priorities and healed her relationship with music. She had been adamant about not releasing new music while spending all her energy in the Good Witch of the North's magic bubble, but the impact the character's assured and confident nature had on her is evident throughout the entire body of work.

"Something that Glinda has is this very sure sense of self," Grande said in late February on The Zach Sang Show. "And she's not very apologetic. She's very good, she's very kind, but she's very certain. She takes up a lot of space unapologetically. And I think I, maybe before knowing Glinda and spending a lot of time with her, would cram myself into tiny little spaces and be kind of apologetic about what I come with and who I am." 

That same unapologetic kindness runs through virtually every song on the album, from the self-assured confidence of "yes, and?" to the disco-tinged heartbreak fantasia of "bye."

She's Just Fine Being Labeled The Villain

Being a concept album, eternal sunshine allows Grande to inhabit new roles and toy with perceptions of her pop star persona, and nowhere is that more evident than on "true story" and "the boy is mine," a one-two punch filled with '90s-inflected R&B and lyrical sass.

"I'll play the bad girl if you need me to…and I'll be good in it too," she pronounces on the former, clapping back at the media narrative swirling around the timeline of her split and new relationship with Wicked costar Ethan Slater. On the latter, as its title suggests, Grande taps into the feisty vibe of Brandy and Monica's 1998 smash while making it crystal clear she isn't competing with anyone for her new love's affections. 

Taken together, the two tracks affirm that Ari really is feeling more resolute in her truth than ever — regardless of what the masses have to say or what other narratives may be running rampant. 

She Remains A Master Of Vocal Production

Whether she's layering harmonies over a melody line or vocal arranging an entire bridge on the fly, the superstar's mastery over her instrument only continues to grow with each new album — evolving from a singer with a once-in-a-generation voice into a powerhouse who can ably execute her own vision from behind the mic.

eternal sunshine proves that point again and again, from the sumptuous extended whistle tone intro on "yes, and?" and the transcendence of the floating harmonies on "don't wanna break up again" to the ways she punctuates her dreamy, staccato vocal delivery on "i wish i hated you."

She Knows Love Is "Imperfect"

After making peace with the end of her marriage, Grande spends the tail end of eternal sunshine giving listeners valuable insight into where her head is at these days, relationship with Slater included. She addresses the unexpected start to this new love story head-on in the off-kilter melody of "imperfect for you" as she coos, "My love, they don't understand/ But I'll hold your heart in the box here beside me/ How could we know we'd arrange all the cosmos?/ We crashed and we burned/ Now I just can't go where you don't go."

And by the album's end, she finally finds the answer she's been searching for since the first track — in a nugget of wisdom from her beloved Nonna, who serves as the only guest credited on the album's 13-song tracklist. "Never go to bed without kissin' goodnight, it's the worst thing to do, don't ever, ever do that," the Italian matriarch advises. "And if you can't and if you don't feel comfortable doing it, you're in the wrong place, get out."

Not only does Nonna's advice wrap eternal sunshine up in a bow, it also speaks to the hard-earned lessons Ari has learned over the past few years — but also that she's come out on the other side stronger, wiser and more unapologetic than ever.

Ariana Grande's Musical Growth In 15 Tracks, From "The Way" To "Positions"