- Ariana Grande revealed on the “Zach Sang Show” that there were multiple versions of her hit single “Thank U, Next.”
- In one alternate version, she took out the names of her ex-boyfriends: “As I was doing it, was like ‘This is not the version.’ But I was also trying to be protective.”
- In another, she was still planning to get married to her ex-fiancé, Pete Davidson.
- “In my relationship, by that time, things were like, up and down and on and off,” she said. “And so I didn’t know what was going to happen and then, you know, we got back together so I had to make a different version of it.”
- Grande also heavily implied that Davidson gave her significant “pushback” about releasing the song, but her other two exes were “really supportive.”
The pop star – accompanied by her co-writer Victoria Monét and three main producers – reflected on their tumultuous process creating the album’s lead single, also called “Thank U, Next.” Grande even revealed there were multiple versions of the explosive song, which explicitly names her ex-boyfriends and details what they taught her.
In one alternate version, she took out the names of her exes entirely.
“I’m super shy when it comes to pitching wild things. And so I was like, ‘Is it insane if I name people and thank them directly in the song?'” Grande said, adding that her co-writer Tayla Parx encouraged her to do it.
“Then we did it and I was like, ‘Wow, this is really, really, really special,'” she continued. “And then I went home and slept on it and, um, we came back and I was like, ‘OK. Let’s make another version just in case, without the names.'”
Instead of naming her four notable exes in the first verse – Big Sean, Ricky Alvarez, Pete Davidson, and Mac Miller – Grande sung about the media’s portrayal of her relationships.
“I think I said, ‘They say I’m too young,’ or something. ‘I’ve had too many boyfriends.’ I was just talking about what people say about me, still,” Grande said. “So it still was like, ‘OK, I’m embracing my mistakes and what I’ve done and everything that’s contributed to who I am,’ but it was just less direct.”
“And everyone kind of – including me – was kind of like, ‘This is not the version.’ Like me, as I was doing it, was like ‘This is not the version.’ But I was also trying to be protective.”
Grande’s close friend and producer, Tommy Brown aka TBHits, added that her team decided to “play along” as she was making different lyrical versions, but they all wanted her to release the original.
In another alternate version, Grande said she was still planning to get married to her ex-fiancé Davidson.
“In my relationship, by that time, things were like, up and down and on and off,” she said. “And so I didn’t know what was going to happen and then, you know, 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 version.”
“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 continued. “But we all knew that the first version was going to be the version we ultimately went with.”
Grande said she wanted to “cover all the bases” because of how “scary” it was for her to put so many specific and personal details in the song.
“I understand that like, to a lot of people, I’m not a real person,” she said. “But at the end of the day, these are people and relationships… It’s real s— to me.”
“I was very nervous to share it because I knew that as soon as people heard the names, they were gonna be like, ‘Run that back one more time. What the f— is she doing?'”
Sang then asked who gave her “the most pushback” about releasing the song. Grande declined to name names, but she heavily implied that it was Davidson, going on to say that the other men “named in that song” were “very supportive.”
“I had sent it to Sean and he loved it,” she said. “Ricky loved it. He was proud… Everyone that I am still in touch with has been very supportive of it.”
The new album continues the titular song’s theme of addressing “failed, yet important beautiful relationships” in Grande’s life – but primarily her feelings towards Davidson and Miller, who died of an accidental overdose in September.
“Ghostin,” for example, appears to describe Grande’s experience of mourning Miller while still being in a relationship with Davidson. Grande told Sang it was the most difficult to write and she initially “begged” her manager to take it off the album.
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