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Every Thought We Had Listening to Ariana Grande’s Eternal Sunshine

The SpongeBob guy! The SpongeBob guy. That’s who we really wanted to know about when pressing play on this new Ariana album. Can you blame us?

The pop star’s music typically arrives in a swirl of rumor and unrest, and Eternal Sunshine is no exception. Ahead of it, Ariana divorced her husband, the realtor Dalton Gomez, only to start dating her Wicked co-star Ethan Slater (a.k.a the Tony-nominated Broadway star of SpongeBob SquarePants) and field accusations of not being a “girl’s girl” by his ex-wife. (Ouch.) The lead single, “yes, and?,” made it seem like Ari wasn’t going to address any of this. “My tongue is sacred, I speak upon what I like / Protected, sexy, discerning with my time,” she sang, as if to say: I’m moisturized. Unbothered. I have better things to do. But she wasn’t not addressing it, either.

What’s the full story? The album came out today. 13 tracks, lots to discuss — let’s dive in.

Katja Vujić, writer: First of all, I’m just obsessed with her referring to her absolute marriage as a situationship.

Brooke LaMantia, editorial assistant: I’m sorry, but “hope you feel alright when you’re in her” is an insane lyric. I had to look it up to make sure I wasn’t making it up.

Cat Zhang, culture writer: What did everyone go into this Ariana album wanting?

Katja V.: I was seeking audacity, and she did deliver on that to a degree, but not enough. The whole vibe of the album is laid-back, muted, “I’m extremely at peace.” But that doesn’t match tonally with the subject of stealing someone’s husband.

Cat Z.: Is she at peace? She literally started out with “how can I tell if I’m in the right relationship?”

Brooke Marine, deputy culture editor: I do love that she got out ahead of it with that first lyric lol. But I wanted “I took your man and idc.” I also don’t know if there’s a unifying sound to this album, which is something I wanted and have grown to expect from her. In terms of the subject matter, I wanted “grown woman unapologetic cheating anthems” (which I guess we get a little bit in the song that is referencing Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend”).

Danielle Cohen, staff writer: She’s trying to be Robyn but the vibes are musical theater, which makes sense. She’s been on the Wicked set for God knows how many years.

Brooke M.: Also I don’t care who she dates — Big Sean is her hottest ex, yes I said it — but if she is really dating SpongeBob, I think people were looking for something that proved exactly why she’s into him. (I thought it was sex, until I listened to the album.)

Maridelis Morales Rosado, photo editor: Her identity is lost, like she’s trying to ride the Beyoncé and Dua Lipa disco-pop wave. It just comes off confused.

Brooke M.: “yes, and?” certainly sounds like when you order “Break My Soul” off Temu. But I also didn’t love “Break My Soul” when it dropped, then it made sense in the context of the full Renaissance album, and after listening to eternal sunshine three times, I felt myself lightening up on it.

Cat Z.: Oh wow, I’m in the minority here! I love how smooth and sparkly this album is. Her vocals sound great, and I appreciate the constellation of ’90s and ’00s references — “the boy is mine” sounds like Ciara’s “1,2 Step,” “true story” sounds like Ginuwine’s “Pony.”

Katja V.: There was one song with guitar that was giving country in the beginning.

Cat Z.: The country song sounded like a Miley song in Hannah Montana.

Brooke M.: My favorite track is actually the title track, which sounds the most like the Ariana I was expecting. Who among us didn’t have our minds blown by Michel Gondry when we were 15?

Danya Issawi, fashion news writer: I did want horny SpongeBob album tbh. Make us say “you know what girl? I get it now.”

Cat Z.: Astrology heads, what does Saturn return mean again?

Brooke M.: Saturn return happens when you’re 27-30, when Saturn has made a full rotation and returned to the position it was at when you were born.

Danielle C.: Kacey Musgraves also sang about her Saturn return, but she did it … better.

Cat Z.: Wait, so what’s supposed to happen during your Saturn return?

Danya I.: Your life basically falls apart lol.

Brooke L.: I was looking forward to mine but now Danya has me scared, damn.

Katja V.: I watched the Zane Lowe interview and she has fully dropped the blaccent, and has added a light Italian American intonation back into her speech.

Brooke M.: I need that good appropriation (kidding) …

Cat Z.: Brooke, do you mean she needs to go back to “7 rings” and trap music?

Brooke M.: Maybe so!

Danielle C.: What is weird is this feels like a heartbreak album, when that is not the story we’ve seen in the news

Brooke L.: I agree, Danielle! And it’s the first time she’s not using all the chat about her to her advantage.

Cat Z: What’s the best time Ariana has turned gossip on its head? “thank u, next”?

Katja V.: I mean … “thank u, next.”

Brooke M.: That was such a moment, and again, had me saying “Okay, I get it now!” about Pete Davidson.

Brooke L.: Right! She’s always managed to convince us of her decisions. But this time I’m still like, “Okay, girl, what’s going on?”

Katja V.: I do see the SpongeBob appeal though. She had great sex and no emotional intelligence with Dalton. So she obviously fell in love with the first theater boy who asked her how her day was going. They probably did that eye-contact exercise and started crying together. That man is very clearly a simp.

Danielle C.: Katja, that summary is better than this entire album.

Every Thought We Had Listening to Eternal Sunshine