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Album Review: Eternal Sunshine

Ariana Grande’s seventh album eternal sunshine shrugs off scandal with the pop princess’ typical blend of frothy lyricism and undeniably delicious production. 

Named after the 2004 film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Michael Gondry’s masterpiece about two people who undergo memory erasing procedures after a painful breakup, the album is a nod to Grande’s year in the hot seat. The singer shocked her followers in 2023 by splitting with her husband of two years and coupling up with Wicked costar Ethan Slater. Amid suspicious overlap between affairs and distraught statements from Slater’s wife (with whom he has an infant son), Grande’s PR team hardly had a moment to kick their feet up.  

As the scandal unfolded, Grande kept her media presence reserved and her cards close to her chest. eternal sunshine is a long awaited tell-all in which she admits to her part in the drama with a resounding “oops.” Lyrically, the album is rife with lazy allusions to its cinematic inspiration; the title track is made up of lines like “So I try to wipe my mind just so I feel less insane, 

rather feel painless, I'd rather forget than know, know for sure” and “I showed you all my demons, all my lies, but you played me like Atari.” The fourth song off of the album, “we can’t be friends (wait for your love),” was paired with a music video in which Grande undergoes the same love lobotomy as the film’s protagonists, with Evan Peters as her Jim Carrey. The chief difference is that in contrast to the complex, sensitive, stunningly destructive relationship in the movie, Grande’s recreation is a heavily airbrushed montage of a honeymoon phase.  

Moral gray areas aside, the album is unreasonably addictive. Grande explores dance beats with tracks like “yes, and” and then shifts into an homage to ‘90s R & B with “the boy is mine” and “ordinary things.” But her sparkly pop still reigns supreme, especially prominent in “supernatural” and “don’t wanna break up again.” Produced in part by chart-topping powerhouse Max Martin, each track on the album is unmistakably hit-worthy. Even weaker moments like “i wish i hated you” are pleasing to the ear.  

Grande’s lyrical strength has consistently been a kind of tongue-in-cheek ditziness. Whether it’s slipping a “you got me understood but at least I look this good” into a heart-wrenching track about denying your feelings (we can’t be friends (wait for your love)) or a “this situationship has to end” in a song about her divorce (don’t wanna break up again), the artist leans into this niche. By embracing it, she makes it work. 

History shows that long-time fans of Grande are hardly deterred by her low moments in the media, whether it be a consistent history of homewrecking or the Great Anti-America Donut Licking Incident of 2015. eternal sunshine marks a new era for the artist, in which she has shed her high ponytail and taken unapologetic accountability for questionable adult choices. It’s accessible to stans and casual listeners alike. Plus, it’s catchy as hell. 


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