Ariana Grande dropped Thank U, Next on Friday, and the album’s already a hit. Within minutes of its drop, fans started dissecting all the lyrics—especially on the heartbreaking single “Ghostin’.” These Internet sleuths think it’s about Grande’s complex emotions about Mac Miller’s death while dating Pete Davidson. Then there’s the title track, “Thank U, Next,” which really lays it out there when it comes to her exes.
But Grande has been working so hard on her album—she reportedly turned it around in two weeks—that we haven’t gotten a whole lot of backstory on all of the songs yet. As it turns out, there’s even more to “Thank U, Next” than the lyrics imply: The singer revealed in a recent interview on The Zach Sang Show that she wrote multiple versions of the song, including one where she winds up with Davidson.
Yep, you read that right.
First, a quick refresher on the lyrics—if you don’t have them memorized yet, that is. She name checks each of her exes in the song (which they got to preview before it dropped).
Thought I’d end up with Sean
But he wasn’t a match
Wrote some songs about Ricky
Now I listen and laugh
Even almost got married
And for Pete, I’m so thankful
Wish I could say, “Thank you” to Malcolm
‘Cause he was an angel
Things were in a tricky spot with Davidson when she was writing the song—they were ending their relationship, after all—so she decided to cover her bases. (Smart!) Grande says she wrote alternate lyrics, one of which didn’t name the exes.
“I was also trying to be protective,” she said in the interview. “In my relationship [with Pete] at the time, things were like up and down and on and off, and so I didn’t know what was going to happen and then we got back together, so I had to make a different version of it, and then we broke up again, so we ended up going with that verse.”
“There’s a version where I was getting married, there’s a version where I’m not getting married, there’s a version with nothing—we’re not talking about anything,” she added. “But we all knew that the first version was gonna be the version we ultimately went with.”
Grande added that she was, understandably, nervous about putting such an intimate song out into the world. “It was a big risk and a very scary thing to do, because it is my life,” she says. “I understand that to a lot of people, I’m not a real person, or it’s easy to just kind of like see me as like, a song or a picture or like, a thing that kind of exists in their head and they know what they know and that’s it. But at the end of the day, these are people and relationships. It’s real shit to me. It is real life and I spent a lot of time with each of those people…it was like scary to put in a song.”
Arianators, you can check out the full interview, below. She goes in-depth about how she made the album—but get some popcorn ready, because it’s about an hour and a half long.