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While the move—turning the attention to herself and sucking all the air out of the conversation about their breakup—is petty, the song it self is a sweet paean to Grande’s exes and the woman she’s become. It’s a pretty genius game of chess; a way to direct the narrative of their breakup while still keeping the tone positive and loving.
According to Vulture, Davidson reportedly pulled a sketch about their breakup from SNL this week, although he has commented on their breakup previously and “proposed” to musical guest Maggie Rogers on the promo for this week’s episode.
“Thank u, next” references Davidson, as well as some of her other famous exes, including Big Sean and Mac Miller, whose death from a drug overdose earlier this year deeply affected Grande. Each of her relationships, Grande sings, taught her something and contributed to the person she’s become, but her most important relationship is with herself.
In a series of tweets on Saturday, Grande clarified that “thank u, next” will be the title of a forthcoming album, as well. “Issa song and an album,” Grande tweeted. “You’ll get the song first.”
Predictably, Twitter lost its shit over the surprise move:
ariana: thank u, next NEXT
virgin me who has never dated anyone: I’M SO FUCKIN GRATEFUL FOR MY EX pic.twitter.com/tuKKunugxM
— max (@arianavxnti) November 4, 2018
— 🌿 тιммy 🌿 (@timmykeoprasert) November 4, 2018
— A R I E N E J E M (@eneira_mej) November 4, 2018
thank u, next shows so much self love and healing i- pic.twitter.com/p2dBKdO9Sz
— mia (@ilygrcnde) November 4, 2018
— andrew (@sleepwithrem) November 4, 2018
hello I just listened to thank u, next pic.twitter.com/ANtPXlAK2k
— nat (@CONFETTlBUTERA) November 4, 2018
— Ariana Grande (@ArianaGrindi) November 4, 2018
not the biggest Ariana Grande fan, her music just isn’t my style. However the strength & empowerment in this song is so beautiful. finally a song that shows gratitude for past relationships, self-love and healing. this is quality! bravo.
thank u, next // ariana grande pic.twitter.com/VMFgLw9ScH
— marissa ||-// (@MarissaReid18) November 4, 2018
Davidson also commented on the breakup during SNL’s “Weekend Update” segment.
The last thing I will say is I know some of you are curious about the breakup, but the truth is it’s nobody’s business,” he said. “Sometimes things just don’t work out, and that’s okay. She’s a wonderful, strong person, and I genuinely wish her all the happiness in the world.”
Two people handling a breakup like mature adults and growing from the experience? We’re not crying, you’re crying.
Ellen Ioanes is the FOIA reporter at the Daily Dot, where she covers U.S. politics. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School, and her work has appeared in the Guardian, the Center for Public Integrity, HuffPost India, and more.