Friday, February 22nd, 2019

Ariana Grande – Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored

Must be why she keeps dropping videos, right?


Alfred Soto: I’ve read disparaging things about the last track on Ariana Grande’s followup to the inferior Sweetener. To my ears it calls shit on The Weeknd types who prefer credulous, docile women. The pert comma makes the point: she’s restless, she won’t sit around waiting for him to come down off the coke. The dense electroswing of the arrangement adduces her no-bullshit determination. Is it catchy? Oh yes.

Ian Mathers: The problem with having a song title that good is that the song then has to actually live up to it. This one doesn’t, not quite.

Tobi Tella: Ariana’s recent foray into trap has brought… mixed results. Unfortunately, this doesn’t really work at all. If “7 Rings” was Ari at her most outrageous, this is her at the most boring level. The trap beat doesn’t go anywhere, the lyrics are shallow, and it never really gets to the fun vibe it seems desperate to invoke. A strange album closer, and even stranger single choice.

Pedro João Santos: With finesse and incremental maturity (one to which the whimsical, important Sweetener already alluded), Thank U, Next culminates with the career-defining title track, a lush ode to self-love and growth, not despite but (partly) in appreciation of past relationships. A pivotal, career-defining move for Grande rounding out the longer statement of an album; it feels right. Well… yes, that’s a lie, obvious as soon as “Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored” surfaced. Alright then. It’s a breezy but prompt, trap-tempered moment of some romantic/sexual unwariness, an okay song (“cause I’m bo-ooored” doesn’t exactly strive to fit the meter) in not-quite-stupendous clothing, programmed to perfection, like a sped-up “God is a Woman,” only stripped of its glorious urgency, though vestiges pop up in the tense, thrilling middle eight. It’s fine and in isolation it feels excellent, but attached to full-length context, it’s marked as an anticlimax. It’s not the grand finale, unless you want to follow up a bang with a thud. Guess that’s the risk of having an imperial phase.

Thomas Inskeep: I guess she’s officially a mean girl now.

Katie Gill: You know how whenever Maroon 5 releases an album, it’s pretty much a vehicle to serve as a collection of three obvious singles and six or so filler songs to pad out space? I’m a little worried that Thank U, Next is a vehicle to serve as a collection of two obvious singles and eight or so filler songs to pad out space. And considering that the two obvious singles have already been released…

Katherine St Asaph: Eight years after Robyn’s “Call Your Girlfriend,” I still find it a fundamentally cruel song that doesn’t know it’s cruel. Now Ariana Grande has released her own “Call Your Girlfriend,” except this one knows full well it’s cruel. Or, rather, the chorus knows it’s cruel, but either the song or Ariana’s image isn’t willing to fully commit to remorseless homewrecking “cause I’m bored.” So it adds several verses of hand-wringing about how this never happens, how unfair and how begging and so on. The level of angst — and once you hit “practically on my knees” it’s not boredom but angst — is ludicrous for someone you’ve just met. In the course of human-seeking-man events, you’ll eventually find out that a guy who intrigues you has a girlfriend. You will feel momentarily disappointed, and then you will get the fuck over it and load Tinder. There’s also another, bigger problem. “Call Your Girlfriend” is a shimmering pop song; its ebullience practically makes the call for you. “Break Up With Your Girlfriend” is not: a midtempo whine of a hook, with an ‘N Sync interpolation existing solely for people to talk about it, boosted occasionally with harmonies that could come from a much better Dawn Richard song.

Iris Xie: Ari is really continuing her power trip “I want it, I got it” theme from “7 Rings.” Her frankness is not ethical and she admits it, and it enters this mood of careless, existential ennui that evokes the feeling of a blase mood and an emptiness from needing to seek out entertainment in chaos. Combined with a lazy trap beat and cascading on the timbre of her voice, it’s pleasant in a flippant way. Overall, this song evokes a quiet, ambivalent destruction where absolutely nothing could fill the void and you know you’re a shit person for thinking these thoughts, but you are and will and put it out there, but fuck it anyway, because people will judge you anyway. For her, this is just a passing thought, except instead of keeping it private to avoid being judged by others, it’s candid and visible for our consumption.

Stephen Eisermann: Ariana Grande’s voice is made for these R&B/pop hybrid songs. Her staccato phrasing in the verses has her teetering on the brink of rapping half the time, but it never comes across as forced or contrived; instead, Ariana sounds very comfortable riding the beat and channeling the necessary confidence. The lyrics are cute enough, though not nearly as deep as her fans have started claiming online, but the real strength of the song comes from the playful tone that Ariana delivers the story with. What could border on conceited instead comes off as kittenish and frisky, a true testament to Ariana’s ability to be able to control the narrative simply with the tone of her voice.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Better as a stand-alone single than the closing track of Thank U, Next, “Break Up” still encompasses what the entirety of Ariana’s fifth album sounds like: middle of the road pop music that’s easily digestible because of how safe and rudimentary its production is (Pharrell is sorely missed). “Break Up” has a better title than song, mostly because its lyrics never live up to that level of nonchalant-assertion-as-wink. The musical diversion of the pre-choruses reveal what could’ve been if its ideas were fleshed out. It’s in the contrast between their first and second appearances — how “I realized” transforms to “you realized,” how Ariana’s tone changes from disappointment to self-assured — that wish fulfillment becomes the sole motivator for devilish actions. If you’re gonna be evil, go all in. As is, “Break Up” leaves me bored.

Reader average: [2.83] (6 votes)

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3 Responses to “Ariana Grande – Break Up With Your Girlfriend, I’m Bored”

  1. yeeees Joshua I thought I was the only one who missed the wacky Pharrell beats on thank u, next

  2. Calling someone a “homewrecker” like that’s not a deeply misogynistic concept (the woman has all the agency and the man has none, being at the whims of a woman’s sexuality, and so any breakup/cheating is her fault, not the man’s) is pretty problematic to me. The same is still true in Robyn’s song: Based on the story, the guy has been doing the cheating, yet she is being cruel?

  3. a) please don’t inform me what misogyny is, I am well aware

    b) I would say the same thing if it were a dude telling a girl to break up with her boyfriend

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