Ariana Grande’s ‘Eternal Sunshine’ basks in the glow of love and its many forms

If I could bottle up the sun in an album, it would be this one. 

Even as I write this now, I think of slivers of sunlight on a white wall and intro (end of the world) would be playing. Even as I write this now, I am thinking of a montage playing in slow motion, a person walking like they were lit from within, and the slow admission “of thinking of an interaction for like five weeks,” as Ariana Grande croons.

Grande’s seventh album was almost more a dream than reality, because she would only begin making music again after finishing the filming of Wicked. But the SAG-AFTRA strike had her heading back to the studio and teasing snippets back in December. She then released her Madonna-esque yes, and?” a dance-pop clapback hit against those who criticized her and her recent decisions. 

Eternal Sunshine is Ariana Grande’s seventh album. Photos from Ariana Grande’s Instagram

At first listen, Eternal Sunshine is a seamless, cohesive compilation of Grande’s vulnerability. The songwriting could have been stronger, but the concept direction is more than present. It still has some of her signature whistle tones, whispered harmonies, and sass, but it feels a little more grown-up. 

Taking inspiration from the Michael Gondry film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, it did indeed feel like she is basking in a post-breakup glow. It is an album that emulates the feeling of putting your memories in a box and tucking them away, or just plain evisceration from the brain. Grande pays tribute to that in her music video of “we can’t be friends (wait for your love)” where she plays the role of Kate Winslet’s Clementine in her character Peaches. 

My favorites from the album would have to be “intro (end of the world),” “bye,” and “supernatural” with troye sivan (from the slightly deluxe version). “Intro” is the most beautiful way to open the album, with its space-like intro (which is probably a wink to her beauty brand r.e.m.) and the way she wistfully asks, “If the sun refused to shine, baby, would I still be your lover? / Would you want me there?” 

It throws me back to one of my favorite album openers, imagine, from her album thank u, next, She delves into an alternative universe where she and her lover are falling asleep til noon and ordering pad thai. Both intro and imagine have that yearning, except in the former, she wonders more about the reality than entertains the fantasy. 

Bye is a great second track, especially since it is so opposite the first track. She, like the title, bids her former lover goodbye in the signature sassy Ariana Grande persona. “Bye, bye, I’m taking what’s mine.” There is a freedom she spells out in that dance track, before following it up with a push-pull in don’t wanna break up again. She admits she cries and the response of her lover is to turn up the television. 

She embraces her Saturn Return in the Saturn Returns Interlude, where she puts snippets of astrologer Diana Garland telling her audience to “wake up” when Saturn “hits you over the head” before the smooth transition to the album’s eponymous Eternal Sunshine. The song opens with a recording of her and former late beau Mac Miller laughing, before she sings about being played in the 3D world.

Eternal Sunshine is a seamless, cohesive compilation of Grande’s vulnerability.

Supernatural is probably one of her best love songs, where she submits to the magic of falling in love. “It’s taking over me, don’t wanna fight the fall.” The remix with Troye Sivan’s even better, because their voices meld together so well. 

In true story, she declare all the ‘truths’ as lies and attempts to combat the rumors that swirl around her. She then gets saucy with the boy is mine, which is reminiscent of 00’s R&B, like the likes of Jazmine Sullivan’s “Bust Your Windows.” She shares that yes, and? is a feed breaker and a red herring song in her album, so that she can keep people on their toes. Sad disco enters the chat in we can’t be friends, where she sings about the inevitable possibility of not being able to re-enter that status after losing each other’s love. 

“I wish I hated you” shares about the complexity of losing someone on good terms, and wishing that it would have been easier to let go on account of hate. Imperfect for you is also another favorite track of mine, especially the line “How could we know we’d rearrange all the cosmos?” The ender track, ordinary things answers the questions posed in the first track through Grande’s nonna, who closes out the album with advice on what a great relationship should be. 

Overall, Eternal Sunshine is imperfectly perfect. It is a seamless flow with cracks in the best way possible because love is not supposed to be bright all the time. But in the end, it still shines. 

Stream Ariana Grande’s “Eternal Sunshine” on all streaming platforms.

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