The pop star released the hit single in November - and it could have ended up sounding much different

By Helen Murphy
February 11, 2019 11:25 AM
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“Thank U, Next” could have sounded a whole lot different.

In a new interview with the Zach Sang Show posted on Saturday, Ariana Grande revealed that she had “like three different versions” of the titular single from her new album, Thank U, Next, which was released on Friday — including that she was nervous to name-drop her exes in the lyrics.

“I’m super shy when it comes to pitching wild things,” the singer, 25, said, “so I was like, ‘Is it insane if we name people and thank them directly in the song?'”

“And then we did it and I was like, ‘Wow, this is really, really, really special and feels like something,” Grande continued. “Then I went home and slept on it and we came back and I was like, ‘Okay, let’s make another version, just in case, without the names. That still exists somewhere… But everyone, including me, was kind of like, ‘This is not the version.'”

Ariana Grande

Grande dropped “Thank U, Next” a month after her breakup with Pete Davidson, whom she was engaged to for four whirlwind months last summer before the couple split in October.

“I was also trying to be protective,” she added. “In my relationship [with Davidson] at the time, things were 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.”

Grande also revealed that the lyrics picturing her future marriage (“One day I’ll walk down the aisle / Holding hands with my mama / I’ll be thanking my dad / ‘Cause she grew from the drama”) almost didn’t make it into the final cut.

“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,” the pop star said. “But we all knew that the first version was gonna be the version we ultimately went with.”

2018 MTV Video Music Awards - Red Carpet
Credit: Kevin Mazur/WireImage

“It was a big risk and a very scary thing to do,” Grande said of releasing the song, “because it is my life. 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 s— 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.”

2018 MTV Video Music Awards - Arrivals, New York, USA - 20 Aug 2018
Pete Davidson and Ariana Grande in August
| Credit: Evan Agostini/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Grande also revealed her exes’ reactions to the song.

“I had sent it to [Big] Sean and he loved it. He loved it,” Grande said. “It was very funny. He was like, ‘Damn, I’m the first one, huh?’ And I was like, ‘I mean, you know, I went kind of in order.’ He was very supportive, he loved it.”

Ricky [Alvarez] loved it,” she continued. “He was like, proud. But Ricky was like, ‘Why did I get the worst line?’ and I was like, ‘What do you mean?’ He was like, ‘Everyone else’s line is so nice, and mine is like, ‘Man, f— him, he’s trash.’ I was like, ‘No, I could have said that, I could have said, ‘Wrote some songs about Ricky / Never mind, he’s trash.’ I was like, ‘I could’ve said that.’ But I didn’t, I said, ‘Now I listen and laugh.’ ‘Cause it didn’t work out.'”

On Sunday night, Grande won her first-ever Grammy award for her fourth studio album, Sweetener.

Though she did not attend the ceremony amid a disagreement with producers, Grande tweeted out her appreciation for the award.

“I know i’m not there tonight (trust, i tried and still truly wished it had worked out tbh) and i know i said i try not to put too much weight into these things …. but f—,” she wrote. “This is wild and beautiful. thank you so much.”