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Album Review: Eternal Sunshine

BY: JAEQWON SUAREZ / DEPUTY ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT EDITOR


(Photo Credit: Genius)

Ariana Grande has returned to give her audience some self-healing and breakup anthems after a three-year hiatus. A lot has happened in those years, with her filming a movie, leaking her unreleased music to the public, and getting a divorce from her ex-husband, Dalton Gomez.


Although this album is just a 30-minute listen, she covers a lot of trauma and even how she dealt with it, something that fans can relate to in their own lives. The storytelling throughout by far has been the most cohesive when it comes to one of Grande’s albums, as each of the 13 songs serves a different purpose and fans will find themselves relating to different ones based on their situations.


One thing is clear, and that is the fact that Ariana Grande is showing off that not everything can be a fairytale. Life has its ups and downs, but how you deal with it determines what kind of person you want to be coming out of it, whether or not you lose people.


We can talk more about the philosophical meanings Ariana has hidden in her album. Let’s get started with the review.


The first track introduces the general theme of the album, which is how one finds true happiness.


The intro (End of the World) has her questioning whether she is in the right relationship. She talks about her doubts and the fact that she finds herself questioning confuses her if the person she is with is supposed to be the love of her life.


The track opens with ethereal sounds, almost as if she is just waking up to this realization. It could also be interpreted as when she meets a new guy, which she talks about later in the song, how she begins to question her concept of happiness.


It is also interesting that the track is somber but has an underlying feeling of happiness. It all builds up to this beautiful chorus that contradicts the album title with these lyrics:


If the sun refused to shine

Baby, would I still be your lover?

Would you want me there?”


She plays with the idea of the world ending and what would be her and her lover’s last thought before perishing. It gives off this anxious feeling of Would you think about me in your last moments? Would I think of you?


It’s only a minute and 30 seconds long, and yet we are already deep into questioning what happiness should look like.


The second track, Bye, helps us out as one answer. In an interview with Zach Sang, that the reason why she chose disco for this song is because it reminded her so much of her Mom’s situation when she divorced her dad. So this was a way to honor her mother, as disco is her favorite genre.


This modern disco track highlights the positive and negative feelings that come with realizing that the connection is mutually broken up. My favorite part of the song is that classic disco music freezes when the music stops in short sequences to let the artist sing.


I also like that the whole message is that even though she is coming to terms with the relationship ending, she is not negating the fact that she has cried her tears and leaned on her friends to help her through the breakup.


Bye is one of the two songs on Eternal Sunshine that allows fans to dance and have fun. From here on out, it is nothing but philosophical thinking.


Don’t wanna break up again Ariana talking about relationships that she may have had in the past that couldn’t work out.


However, she slowly realizes that although she may be the problem, relationships take two people, so just because you work on yourself doesn’t mean you should work on fixing the other person. It’s realizing that no matter what she tries to heal herself, if that other person isn’t willing to give it a shot, then you’re both hurting each other.


Don’t wanna break up again is very groovy, and the bass sticks out a lot and often takes the lead along with her vocals. This song lands in fifth place, as the entire thing is well done and also vulnerable.


Even paying attention to the lyrics, it is very obvious how nervous and anxious it feels to even say to the person you’re with that I don’t want this to end, knowing ultimately it’s what’s best for both parties.


We then take a brief pause as she introduces us to Saturn Returns interlude which is a piece spoken by astrological counselor Diana Garland in an old video


Saturn in the astrological sense represents our ambitions or tenacity that all of us work towards. Garland tells us that a full cycle of Saturn takes around 29, so the next time Saturn will align with you again is when you're around 29 years old.


Around that age, you may be in your career or be working towards certain goals, such as marriage or kids. Saturn, as Garland is saying, is that wake-up call for you to figure out what do you with life. What will bring you the most happiness?


This represents the wake-up call we see in the album track title, Eternal Sunshine. This track gives little nods to the movie that may have influenced this album, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”.


Eternal Sunshine lands in my rankings at four because there’s just something about her being so bold to say these lyrics that get me every time:



Not only that, but it truly feels like Ariana is waking up from this moment in her life ready to move on to better things.


She acknowledges that even though they both seemed to have moved on from each other, she will carry the lessons that she learned from him and learn from them.


In this sense, calling her ex the “eternal sunshine” represents that lingering presence that she will carry when she looks for a new partner. There is no bad blood, however, and she makes sure to not try to bash her ex because they both did as much as they could.


This leads to an alt R&B and pop track, Supernatural. The synths are very dreamy and give off how it feels to be in the honeymoon phase you feel with someone.


So far in the album, her background vocals have been perfect, but when it comes to Supernatural, I could replay this track all day and not get tired of it. I think what makes this so catchy is her harmonies and the way she sounds magical and whimsical, which is how the honeymoon phase usually is.


We then go all into R&B, and this next track seeming is a response to all the backlash and hate that she has been given.


True Story dives into how she will feed into the narratives if that's what the media wants from her. From cheating allegations to some of her fans leaking her music, most notably Fantasize (which she outrights states in the chorus), she says go ahead and roll the cameras.

Even though this isn’t what she wants, she understands that when it comes to the public’s opinion, people and fans already have an image of her in their eyes, so there’s not much she can do. One really important thing to note is that throughout the song, she reiterates that all she wants is love, something that people tend to overlook.


I liked how she gave her fans what they wanted and yet still made it her own way. True Story is very 90s R&B style, something that a lot of her fans loved in the leaked song Fantasize.


We’ll see in this next track, The Boy is Mine, how even when fans demand certain songs from artists, they can still top themselves and do better.


This song is third in my rankings and I love what she did. Before we get to the chorus, we get this pause in which she slows down the track for a second before she goes off in the chorus.


The Boy is Mine plays into one of the more infamous tropes of fighting for a boy. I see a lot of influences from a late 90s song by Brandy and Monica also titled The Boy is Mine. 


The only difference between this modern version is that it’s only Ariana’s side and the fantasies she has of him. I also love the hidden nods to space, something that is also at the forefront of this album with lyrics like:



We are then led up to the lead single of the album, “Yes, and?”. Honoring artists like Madonna back in the late 80s to the early 90s, she dives into this era of manifesting what’s right for her.


I also loved the fact that it honors the queer culture, as it represents this state of mind that she doesn’t have to let the public know about who’s she with or what she does. This whole song is a “stay out of my business” and that's a mindset that many people should have if they don’t have anything nice to say.


The music video is also amazing, with many moments of voguing and even referencing Paula Abdul’s video Cold Heart.

After the lead single comes the second single shockingly, We Can’t Be Friends(wait for Your Love). The music video is a whole reference to the movie, and stars actor Evan Peters.


This comes in second in my top five, and it’ll have you shedding a tear by the end of it. Spoiler warning, the movie “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” is essentially about a guy trying to erase his memories of his ex.


In the song, Ariana acknowledges that she and her partner are not compatible at that time. I want to emphasize that last part, “at that time”, because she is not saying that they won’t end up together in the end, but for right now, they need to figure themselves out without each other.


My favorite lyrics to come from this song is her second verse:


Mm

'Cause I don't wanna argue, but I don't wanna bite


It’s a very emotional song, and it’ll make you think about that one person in your life that you weren’t ready for. But you can find happiness in knowing that one day, you guys can sit and talk about all the things that you accomplished.


As Ariana says in the post-chorus, “I’ll wait for you love”, and at least in that fact you’ll know that it’ll never be over between the two of you. Even the track itself is upbeat, once again showcasing how this is a moment that needed to happen, no matter how sad the situation may be.


I wish I hated you is at the top of my list. I can’t count how many times I replayed this song since the album came out. If We Can’t Be Friends didn’t make you cry, then this pop ballad will have you crying your heart out.


Instrumentally it’s very simple, with a bass and a synth taking a huge role in this song as she sings. However, this simplicity works well with the song, because you can come up with thousands of reasons to be jealous or angry at your ex, but you know in the end that both of you are wrong.

To top it off, you can hear her voice break the second time she sings the chorus, which can bring a tear to your eyes. It’s so vulnerable and feels like thoughts you have when you know something ended mutually between each other. It’s almost as if you’re trying to find something in nothing.


This is something she acknowledges in these lyrics:


Just two different endings, you learn to repair

And I learn to keep me in one place”



Imperfect for you piggybacks off of this idea. We see how she and her ex highlight what they felt like during the relationship. All the imperfections arise from the relationship and being able to talk about what you guys liked in each other can often be healing as you carry lessons that you learned from each other to new relationships.


Throughout the song she references it as a “happy disaster”, and that she’s glad they crashed and burned. Sometimes, it’s ok to admit that you guys were “imperfect” for each other”.


But the chorus also has a double meaning, as it almost sounds like she’s saying “I’m perfect for you”. That’s interesting because even though the song highlights the imperfections, it still tries to reason with that little voice that a lot of us have after a relationship has ended, often being like “Look, they were struggling with that too, they’re perfect for us”.


The album ends off with Ordinary Things featuring her grandmother, whom she calls Nonna. 


In the end, she talks about all the things that she wants to do with her partner. It is different compared to the intro track of Eternal Sunshine, as she describes that anything with her partner will never feel like an ordinary thing.


This feels like the answer to happiness that Ariana has found, that anything she does with her partner should feel like her falling in love all over again. Even Nonna agrees, adding in the end:



While love is never perfect, it’s about how you overcome it with your partner. If it means ending it or taking a break, then you guys have to stick to it because that’s the only way for us as humans to find ourselves without the pressure of another person.


Not every person you date will be the one. You’re going to make mistakes and maybe find someone else who shows you that lesson, and that’s ok. I think the entire purpose of Ariana’s album Eternal Sunshine is to point out that relationships aren’t perfect, and both parties have to take responsibility when it doesn’t work out.


Overall, this album serves as a wake-up call for people, as life is not going to wait around for you to decide. Like life, this album has its ups while highlighting the downs.


The concept of this album was perfect, and Ariana Grande couldn’t have executed it more perfectly than she already did.


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