Today in 4th-dimensional chess: Songstress Ariana Grande revealed in an interview this week that there were actually multiple version of the title track off her new album, Thank U, Next, recorded in the run-up to its release last year. The reason? The fluctuating state of her relationship with former fiance Pete Davidson, and her hesitation about the tracks’s opening verse, which names and thanks several of her former lovers (including the late Mac Miller).
This is per Entertainment Tonight, which got it off a recent radio appearance Grande made to discuss the album, which came out last week. “There’s a version where I was getting married. There’s a version where I’m not getting married. There’s a version with nothing, we’re not talking about anything,” Grande revealed, diving deep into one of the weirder aspects of this blatantly biographical approach to songwriting. “In my relationship by the time things were, like, up and down and on and off and so I didn’t know what was gonna happen,” she said, mirroring the feelings of an anxious nation, nostalgic for days of distracting itself from the collapse of American society with daily doses of Ariana-Pete drama.
In the end, though, Grandavidson was not to be; meanwhile, Grande realized even as she sang it that that the less name-heavy versions of the song simply weren’t going to cut it. “And everyone—including me—was kinda like, ‘This is not the version.’ Me as I was doing it was like, ‘This is not the version.’ I was also trying to be protective, you know?”
The “Thank U, Next” video became one of YouTube’s biggest hits, thanks in part to a deft combination of cinematic nostalgia—the video riffs on 2000s-era comedies like Mean Girls and Legally Blonde—and the confessional, forgiveness-focused nature of the lyrics.