GRAPHIC BY CHRISTINA QUACH
By VINCENT CORTES & SARAH CHUN & MICHELLE HUANG
PERSPECTIVES EDITOR & FEATURES EDITOR & EDITORIAL EDITOR
Thank U, Ariana, but Next time, warn us before you snatch our wig.
On Nov. 30, singer Ariana Grande released a music video for her new hit single “Thank U, Next.” The music video is based around movies from the early 2000s, such as Mean Girls, Bring It On, 13 Going on 30 and Legally Blonde. Yet, the most awe-inspiring appeal of the video was its cast: Jonathan Bennett (Aaron Samuels in Mean Girls), Troye Sivan and Kris Jenner. As the fastest song on Spotify to reach 100 million streams, it is only fitting that “Thank U, Next” would break the record for the biggest music video debut in Youtube history, earning over 50 million views in the first 24 hours.
Despite the obvious tributes to the 2000 classics, the video goes above and beyond with an in-depth casting, nuanced references and sentimental statements.
In the opening scene, the audience is taken aback by the heavy implications to Mean Girls. Following the Mean Girls theme, Grande, a momentous media figure—adored by most–plays the role of none other than Regina George.
This clever comparison between two iconic figures of immense social standings is unmatched. However, unlike Regina George, whose infamous Burn Book contained insults toward fellow classmates, Grande’s Burn Book only contains compliments to her ex-lovers, once again reminding the audience of the song’s true purpose: self-love and gratification. The characteristic spin off the original Mean Girls message surfaces again in Grande’s rendition of the Winter Talent Show. While Regina George may have been a “mean girl” in the phrase’s true form, Grande is anything but. This juxtaposition is what truly eternalizes the movie, as well as maintains the integrity of the song’s lyrics.
Grande’s references to Bring It On largely take place in cheerleading scenes on the sidelines of a football game, where she and her teammates wear “TUN” emblazoned uniforms in the red and black print of the Rancho Carne Toros, with the “TUN” standing for “Thank U, Next.”
The music video also includes a reference to Torrance and Cliff’s iconic tooth-brushing scene, also from Bring It On. In the film, the couple is hanging out and falling in love over passing the Crest bottle. Parallel to events transpiring in the film, Grande’s onscreen love interest hands her a mixtape. However, this tape is from herself, to herself, rather than from a love interest. The tape directly signifies the message of self love that Grande emphasizes throughout the lyrics.
13 Going on 30 drew the most parallels with Grande’s life, and is implied to represent her ex-relationship with Pete Davidson. Entering the spotlight of Victorious; to licking donuts on a display case; to coping with the Manchester attack of May 2017, to calling off an engagement, Grande, like Jenna, embodies her strides taken to obtain maturity. Although Grande never had the happy ending with Pete, her happy ending is maturing enough to love herself–and rocking that haircut.
At the last stop of references for the video, Grande arrives at Harvard University as Elle Woods from Legally Blonde in a navy blue convertible and a head-to-toe pink outfit.
Studying in the library isn’t Elle Woods’ style: Grande-as-Elle brushes up on her studies outside in a bikini and a feathered jacket. In what some are calling an underhanded political statement, she’s reading up on immigration law. If this is the case, we should commend Grande for doing so. In an era of controversy in American politics, it is crucial for those with large platforms to stand up for what is right. By portraying herself studying law, Grande sends the message that she will stand for immigration rights to represent her people the same way Woods avenged herself at the end of the movie by studying law.
Elle Woods’ Harvard Law School dorm room is equipped with an elliptical machine she uses while she studies, only, this time, she’s working out for herself, hence the song’s message of individualism and moving past exes.
While the old Ariana may have come to more accurately portray the early 2000s sweethearts in her quest for love, the new Ariana accomplished this quest in loving herself.
All in all, Grande released a perfect supplement to her smash-hit single. To all the other pop artists that were vying for video of the year: Thank u, next.