We’re not sure we’re capable of objective criticism of Ariana Grande’s new album any more than we would be capable of objective criticism of an otter pup. But let’s attempt this emotional journey together.
As you may recall, freshly minted and feline global superstar Ariana Grande began dating comedian Pete Davidson in May 2018. They were engaged faster than the time it takes to say, “Hey! Have you guys thought this through?” and Grande announced that her upcoming album “Sweetener” would feature a song titled “Pete,” which she later amended to “Pete Davidson.”
On Friday, “Sweetener” dropped.
Let’s take a deep breath together.
Here’s a baby otter being tickled
“Pete Davidson” is famously one minute and 13 seconds long — a musical interlude that falls into the penultimate spot on the “Sweetener” track list.
The song starts with a loud static that diffuses into a smooth note, showcasing Grande’s typical blend of jazzy R&B and syncopated pop. “I thought you into my life/Look at my mind,” she begins — is she quoting her own Instagram caption from early in her relationship with Davidson (insofar as anything can be called earlier than anything else in that relationship) or was that caption a leaked song lyric? And isn’t that confusion of corporate and authentic a great part of what makes Grande so appealing right now?
“No better place or a time/Look how they align/Universe must have my back,” she continues. One feels like one will be struck down by God if one dares to mention that Grande and Davidson both broke up with longterm partners to be with each other, so “no better place or time” seems more cosmically true than literally true. But again, one wishes to remain alive. Genius notes that the reference to the universe echoes the most recent single off “Sweetener” — “God Is A Woman” — which contains the lyrics “And he see the universe when I’m in company.”
She goes on: “And I know you know that you’re my soulmate and all that.” This is classic Grande — what is the phrase “and all that” doing in the line? There is no one like Ariana Grande to make us feel old and befuddled. And just when we’re feeling irate about her pop-y flippancy, she adds, “My whole life got me ready for you.”
Deep breaths, now.
She breaks into a moment of quietly ecstatic harmony and the song ends as as soft strings emerge under the beat, becoming more dominant as her voice, sing-chanting “I’mma be happy, happy” fads away.
It’s a great album, and a fittingly sugary, sensual tribute to their relationship. Oh Ariana, we don’t know what the universe holds for you! We just want you to be happy.
Jenny Singer is the deputy lifestyle editor for the Forward. You can reach her at Singer@forward.com or on Twitter @jeanvaljenny
This story "Dissecting ‘Pete Davidson,’ New Ariana Grande Love Song" was written by Jenny Singer.