‎we can’t be friends (wait for your love) – Song by Ariana Grande

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    Ariana Grande is used to being in the spotlight, but over time, she’s gotten savvy at playing it. The pop star’s seventh studio album eternal sunshine—a lightly conceptual riff on the head-spinning 2004 film starring Jim Carrey, of whom Grande has said she’s a lifelong fan—feels like a mind game itself, blurring the lines between real-life references and theatrical bits. It arrives in the middle of a whirlwind tabloid-packed stretch—Grande married, divorced, and scored a starring role in Hollywood’s big-screen adaptation of Wicked—and she knows fans have questions. What’s true? What’s real? Ari gives a lot of things on this album, but answers aren’t one of them, a cunning reminder of how little transparency celebrities actually owe us.

    In an interview with Zane Lowe, Grande leans into the project’s thematic murkiness. “true story,” she says, is “an untrue story based on all untrue events,” and when asked about her own experience with the Saturn return, an astrology milestone referenced in the album’s only interlude, she shrugs. “It was chill. Nothing changed. Pretty uneventful.” She says she finds freedom in art because “you can really pull from anywhere,” and she describes the film as another “lovely costume” to wear. Her answers have flickers of defiance that feel like power. Whoever said albums had to be tidy, or true? “It doesn’t have to be an everlasting love story,” she tells Lowe. “Love is complicated. Showcasing both sides of it is what I tried to [do].”

    If there’s one thing these tracks make clear, it’s that she’s still Ari on the mic—she’s still hitting those high highs (“eternal sunshine”); still finding release on the dance floor (“yes, and?”); still sifting gold out of ’90s R&B (“the boy is mine”), a sequel to the leaked 2023 track “fantasize.” Her favorite? “imperfect for you,” a tribute to the friends who make up her inner circle. “We’re so lucky to have loved ones who are accepting and real with us no matter what,” she says. “We live in a time where everything is boiled down, but that song demands room for nuance, humanness, and complexity.”



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