The title track was released as the album's lead single on November 3, 2018, peaking atop of the charts of 12 countries and becoming Grande's first number-one single on the US Billboard Hot 100. The track also broke a string of records, including the record for the most plays in a single day by a female artist on Spotify. Its second single, "7 Rings", was released on January 18, 2019, peaking at number one in 15 countries and making Grande the third female artist to have two or more songs debuting atop of the Hot 100. "Break Up with Your Girlfriend, I'm Bored" was released as the third single on the day of the album's release. The track's debut atop of the UK Singles Chart made Grande the first female artist to replace herself at number one on the chart, dethroning her previous single. In support of both Sweetener and Thank U, Next, Grande embarked on the Sweetener World Tour, beginning on March 18, 2019.
Upon its release, Thank U, Next received universal acclaim from music critics, many of whom praised the cohesiveness and production of the album. Commercially, the album peaked atop the charts of many countries, including Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Ireland, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States. In the latter, the album broke the record for the largest streaming week for a pop album, debuting with 360,000 album-equivalent units.
In September 2018, Grande's ex-boyfriend, rapper Mac Miller, died from a drug overdose. The following month, Grande announced that she would take a break from music. That same month, however, Grande revealed that she had been in the studio working on new music, and she announced the Sweetener World Tour (2019). She stated that the tour would support both her fourth studio album, Sweetener (2018), and her upcoming fifth studio album. Later in October 2018, Grande broke off her engagement with comedian Pete Davidson.
Recording and production
Grande started recording the album in October 2018, less than two months after the release of her previous album Sweetener. She recorded its entirety at Jungle City in New York.
Grande opted to work with producers and songwriters she was already friends with, stating the decision "kind of saved my life. It was kind of this super challenging chapter that sucked, and then my friends made it amazing and special."Tommy Brown produced the most tracks with five, and collaborated on production with Charles Anderson and Michael Foster of Social House on two of them. Meanwhile, Max Martin and Ilya Salmanzadeh produced four tracks together.
Songwriter Victoria Monét said that Grande and her team worked quickly, writing and recording "nine songs or so" after one week. Recording sessions were finished after just two weeks.
Music and lyrics
"‘Bruh, I just want to fucking talk to my fans and sing and write music and drop it the way these boys do. Why do they get to make records like that and I don’t?’ So I do and I did and I am, and I will continue to."
Thank U, Next consists of pop, R&B and trap songs with many influences of hip hop, on its beats and productions. The album is very diverse with genres and lyrical content, they range from mid-tempo tracks to piano-driven ballads. It explores a diversity of other music genres, including dancehall, soul, pop-rap and many urban influences. Rob Sheffield from Rolling Stone stated the album "Thank U, Next is just a woman and a mood, taking that mood out for a drive until she pedal-to-the-metals it right off a cliff." In an interview with Zach Sang she said: "We walked to the studio everyday, and just made music and it turned everything around in my life. It sounds very corny but it was like, the most beautiful."
The album begins with the song "Imagine", an R&Bballad with a trap-inspired rhythm. The song features multiple whistle notes, and its lyrics speak about Grande's denial of failed relationships. Mathew Rodriguez from Out mentioned that the song "does the double duty of being both a great song and a great introduction." The next track "Needy" is a mid-tempo minimalistic song with a metronome-like synth in the foreground. It's lyrics are about Grande's insecurities in relationships. "NASA," named after the U.S. space agency of the same name, is a "bouncy-R&B tune." The track features a spoken introduction by Shangela, an American drag queen. She says, "One small step for woman, one giant leap for womankind", a variation on Neil Armstrong's quote, "That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." Carolyn Bernucca of Complex said, "The standout track, 'NASA,' is punctuated by thumping bass and trap drums that have made their way from Atlanta all the way into mainstream pop." The fourth track is "Bloodline." It is a reggae-pop song with R&B influences that contains brassy horns and a pounding bass. It has been compared to Grande's 2016 single "Side to Side" and "Greedy" from her third studio album Dangerous Woman. The song features a sound bite from Marjorie Grande, Grande's grandmother, in which she is talking about a hearing aid.The Guardian stated that the song "posits the idea that maybe it’s best to just see how things go relationship-wise and getting engaged after a few months isn’t essential", believing that this song is about Pete Davidson.
Victoria Monét (pictured in 2017) co-wrote a majority of the songs on the album.
The fifth track of the record is "Fake Smile", a hip hop soul inspired track with a trap groove. It features a Wendy Rene sample (as featured in tracks previously by Metro Boomin and Wu-Tang Clan). Lyrically, the song is about the attack on her concert in Manchester and the death of ex Mac Miller, and the emotional toll that these events inflicted upon her. Chloe Crookshanks from Medium stated that the song is "Weaved in with some funky muted bass, she states candidly her understandable disdain for putting on a show (“fuck a fake smile”). "Bad Idea" is a hip hop number, beginning with a 80’s rock-ballad intro. It garnered comparison to David Guetta's 2012 hit single "Titanium" featuring Sia. It contains a orchestra throughout the bridge and outro. Lyrically, it is about Grande’s desire to numb her pain. The seventh track "Make Up" is Grande's most sexually explicit song on the album, featuring many double entendre's. It is a trap record with wonky pop and bubblegum influences, it contains a "rap-influenced bridge". A Bit Of Pop Music commented "she wants to fight with her partner only so they can make up later, while also wanting him to ruin her make up." "Ghostin," the eighth track, is an emotional piano-driven ballad. Lyrically, it discusses Grande's last two relationships, stating that "she should ghost the guy that still makes her cry and wants to stop hurting the person she is with now while he is being patient with her," being Miller and Davidson. Savan Kotecha, who co-wrote the song with Grande, told Rolling Stone of working on the track: "[When we were writing] 'Ghostin,' we were in New York... The song speaks for itself in terms of what it's about. We were with her for a week in New York witnessing that, witnessing her feelings on that."NME stated that it was "One of the record’s most talked-about tracks" and also "one of the album’s most devastating moments." According to Grande, she "begged" her manager, Scooter Braun, to remove the track from the album, but he convinced her to keep it.
The ninth track "In My Head" begins with an excerpt of a voicemail from by Grande's close friend Doug Middlebrook. It is a trap-pop hybrid with many R&B influences.Medium said that "Grande addresses her failure to see people for who they truly are." "7 Rings," the tenth track, is a trap-pop and R&B song. It features a heavy bass and sees Grande discuss "how global success has allowed her to enjoy the finer things".Billboard magazine noted it's "the most hip-hop-leaning song Grande has released in the post-Sweetener era yet, with Grande almost rapping the song's verses". The eleventh track, "Thank U, Next" is a self-empowerment pop and R&B song that mentions many of Grande's past relationships. It features elements of synth-pop in its production. Grande explained in an interview that "thank u, next..." is a phrase that she and fellow singer/songwriter Victoria Monét use. Markos Papadatos from Digital Journal said the song is an "ode to gratitude, an anthem to a fresh start and new beginnings, where she is not afraid to be raw and vulnerable; Grande's vulnerability is the listener's reward." He also said the song is "sultry, cathartic and expressive" and praised Grande's breathy vocals as "pristine and heavenly, and it is evident the pop throne is still hers. 'thank u, next' garners an A rating." The final record "Break Up with Your Girlfriend, I'm Bored" is a trap-pop and R&B song. It was Grande's most eye-catching song from the album. The track replaced "Remember", a song previously planned to be on the album, but was too personal for Grande to release. It samples "It Makes Me Ill" by N'Sync in the bridge.Medium states that "Ariana's to lift the energy, injecting a sense of sensuality, playfulness and questionable behaviour."
Release and promotion
Thank U, Next was released worldwide on February 8, 2019, by Republic Records. The album cover art, shot by Alfredo Flores, shows Grande laying upside-down on the floor with album title painted on her neck. The digital ion cover features a pink border, whilst the physical ion features a black border. The title of the album was named after a phrase Grande and her friend Victoria Monét repeatedly use.
On October 25, 2018, Grande officially announced the Sweetener World Tour, in promotion of both Thank U, Next and Sweetener (2018). The tour is set to begin on March 18, 2019, with the first leg consisting of 52 shows across North America. The second leg is set to begin on August 17, 2019, consisting of 28 shows across Europe.Normani and Social House were announced as the opening acts for the North American dates of the tour.
"7 Rings" was released as the second single on January 18, 2019. The track was also commercially successful, peaking atop of the charts of 15 countries, including the US, debuting on top of the Billboard Hot 100, making Grande the third female artist to have two or more songs debuting atop of the Hot 100. This also made Grande the third artist in history to have an album with two songs that debuted at number one on the Hot 100, after Drake's Scorpion in 2018 and Mariah Carey's Daydream in 1995."7 Rings" also broke the record for the most streamed song in 24 hours on Spotify, receiving 14.9 million streams globally. It received generally mixed reviews from music critics, and was the center of plagiarism accusations from multiple artists.
"Break Up with Your Girlfriend, I'm Bored" was released as the third single on February 8, 2019, the same day the album was released. The song debuted atop of the charts in Ireland and the United Kingdom. In the latter, Grande became the first female artist to replace herself at number one on the chart, and joined only three other artists in having three chart-topping singles in under 100 days. As the track became her fifth number-one single in Ireland, Grande now also holds the record for the most number ones in the 2010s decade on the chart, alongside Rihanna. "Break Up with Your Girlfriend, I'm Bored" debuted at number two on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Grande's 13th top ten single on the chart. With this single at number two, "7 Rings" at number one and "Thank U, Next" at number three, Grande became the first artist to monopolize the top three on the chart since The Beatles in 1964.
At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, Thank U, Next has an average score of 86 based on 24 reviews, indicating "universal acclaim". Many critics praised the cohesiveness and production of the album.
Rob Sheffield of Rolling Stone stated that Thank U, Next is "one of the year's best pop albums so far, even in a 2019 that's already turning out to be a great one for new music. Thank U, Next makes you suspect that the best Ariana is yet to come." Ross Horton from The Line of Best Fit praised both the songwriting and production of the album, stating that it is an "airtight, dense pop record with an obnoxiously brash production" and commenting that "even the most delicate, sensual things here are tightly compressed and scrubbed of anything resembling acoustics."AllMusic's Stephen Thomas Erlewine also gave the album a positive review, commenting that "Grande is swaggering with [...] confidence" and concluding that the album "embodies every aspect of Ariana Grande, the grand pop star." Mikael Wood of the Los Angeles Times said, "Thank U, Next flaunts Grande's emotional healing; it's suffused with the joy of discovering that what didn't kill her really did make her stronger."
Michael Cragg of The Guardian commented that Thank U, Next seems to be a "result of a burst of creativity and a prevailing mood", yet criticized "7 Rings" as a "braggadocious, ice-cold low point" of the album. He concluded positively, stating that Grande is a "pop star [...] finally working out who they are and what they want to say" and compared the album to Rihanna's Anti. Helen Brown from The Independent stated that that Grande is "embracing her inner mean girl (on the sexy "Break Up with Your Girlfriend, I'm Bored") [and] owning her flaws and contradictions" on tracks such as "Needy" and "NASA", yet concluded that the album lacks enough "vocal grit". Sal Cinquemani from Slant Magazine awarded the album three-and-a-half stars out of five, believing that the album "is easily Grande's most sonically consistent effort to date". He criticized that "some of the [...] tracks tend to blur together", but ultimately concluded in saying that Grande's "refusal to fake a smile that proves to be what makes her so damn likeable." In a capsule review for Vice, Robert Christgau gave the album a three-star honorable mention () and summed it up as Grande's "maturing from multitracked studio trickeration to straight love songs—love songs an old grouch might complain are all too superstar-specific"; the title track and "Ghostin'" were cited as highlights.
In the United States, Thank U, Next debuted at number one on the US Billboard 200 with 360,000 album-equivalent units, of which 116,000 were pure album sales. The album became Grande's fourth number-one album in the country, and broke the record for the largest streaming week ever for a pop album. On the Billboard Hot 100 chart, issue dated February 20, all twelve songs from Thank U, Next appeared simultaneously. Eleven of these songs appeared in the top 40, breaking the record for the most simultaneous top 40 songs by a female artist.Thank U, Next would spend a second week at number one selling 151,000 units. It is Grande's first album to spend two weeks at number one on the Billboard 200. 
In the United Kingdom, Thank U, Next debuted at number one on the UK Albums Chart with 65,000 album-equivalent units. The album became Grande's third number-one on the chart and marked her largest album opening week to date there. Earning 59 million streams, Thank U, Next set a new record for most album streams ever by a female artist in a week in the country, beating her previous album, Sweetener (2018). Following its release, "Break Up with Your Girlfriend, I'm Bored" debuted at number one on the UK Singles Chart, replacing "7 Rings", with the latter returning to number one the following week, making Grande the first female solo artist since Madonna in 1985 to simultaneously hold the number one and two spots on the UK Singles Chart and the first musical artist to replace herself twice consecutively at number one in UK chart history. Also, ”Needy” peaked at number eight on the chart. In Ireland, the album also became Grande's third number one on the Irish Albums Chart, outselling the rest of the top five combined. Upon its release, Thank U, Next became the only female album this decade to feature three Irish number-one singles. Following the success of the album, Sweetener (2018) arose three places to number 8, and Dangerous Woman (2016) re-entered the top fifty at number 43.
^"Czech Albums – Top 100". ČNS IFPI. Note: On the chart page, select 201907 on the field besides the word "Zobrazit", and then click over the word to retrieve the correct chart data. Retrieved February 19, 2019.