Essentials: “imagine” – Ariana Grande

I think we can all agree, fan or not, that Ariana Grande is on a roll. Just as she mentioned in her Billboard speech last week, it has been one of the best years of her career, despite it being the worst of her life. From releasing her fourth studio album sweetener in August, announcing a North American and European 2019 tour and topping the charts with “thank u, next” just last month, the singer dropped another track early Friday morning. With sweetener, Grande’s musical style has significantly shifted and evolved from My Everything and Dangerous Woman. In her YouTube series, she says that “this [sweetener] feels like the most ‘me’ an album has ever felt; it just feels like, super close to home… I don’t feel like I stepped out of my comfort zone, I feel like I found it.”

“imagine” can be described as a mix of R&B and pop rhythms, complete with Grande’s signature whistle tone. Just like “thank u, next,” its infectious melody and catchy chorus is bound to get stuck in your head. Safe to say I’ve had it on repeat since its release.

The song sounds like a deeper exploration of Grande’s comfort zone. It is similar to some songs off sweetener in the sense that the message and meaning of the song juxtapose the bubbly, lighthearted melody. With her past two releases, we’re beginning to witness this emotional vulnerability from Grande. Her honesty helps listeners connect to her and her songs on a deeper level; you can feel the sincerity behind the lyrics and the feeling behind her vocals. The rhythmic lullaby “imagine” deals with denial, and Grande herself confirmed that the song is about “a simple, beautiful love that is now (and forever) unattainable.” This led to speculation that the song is about Mac Miller, and fans have been quick to point out references. The intimate lyrics paint a detailed picture of the couple’s life together, which has been heavily documented via social media posts by Grande and Miller. The bittersweet vibe of the ballad balances out the energy of “thank u, next,” as both tracks are set to be on Grande’s upcoming studio album. If this year has been any indication of Grande’s growth and talent, I can’t wait to hear what she drops in the coming year, which is hopefully less turbulent and traumatic than 2018 has been.

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