These Mac Miller References On Ariana Grande's 'Thank U, Next' Album Are So Bittersweet

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There's so much to unpack from Ariana Grande's latest album that dropped on Friday. Of course, everyone is impressed with her vocals. Aside from that, the fascination with her personal life seems to be at an all-time high. If anyone wants to analyze lyrics about her dating history, there are quite a few Mac Miller references on Grande's Thank U, Next album that acknowledge her late ex.

As fans know, Grande has gone through some tough times in the past couple of years, and she's been vocal about channeling her feelings into music. In October 2018, a fan tweeted the singer about being "the hardest working woman in the industry." In response, Grande explained,

"it ain’t work when u love it r u kiddin ! i’m the luckiest girl in the world to be able to do this shit n express myself n heal this way .... my lifeline tbh thank U for listening n allowing this to be my life."

To quickly recap, Miller and Grande were frequent collaborators — notably, they recorded the 2013 hit song "The Way" together — and they dated from 2016 until 2018. In May 2018, Grande confirmed her split with Miller and she soon started dating SNL cast member Pete Davidson, to whom she was also engaged in the summer. In September 2018, Miller died at age 26. Grande and Davidson split in October 2018.

To say that it's been a difficult time for the singer would be putting it mildly. She's been through so much in a short amount of time and on a very public scale. Fortunately, Grande can express her emotions and work through her personal hardships by making music.

So with that said, here's a list of all the possible Mac Miller references on Grande's new album that capture how much the late rapper meant to her.


The Title Of The Song "Imagine"

Miller had a tattoo on his arm that said "Imagine" in a large font. Grande has a song called "Imagine" on the album. That's probably not a coincidence, at least according to fans who have pointed it out.


The Whistle Tones On "Imagine"

Did the whistle notes at the end of "Imagine" sound familiar? They're very reminiscent to the whistles in Grande and Miller's song "The Way."

You can listen to both songs to compare.


"I Never Thought That It Would Be You" In "Imagine"

On the song "Imagine," Grande sings, "I never thought that it would be you." In his 2016 song "Cinderella," Miller mentioned Grande's surprising interest in him and this could be a reference to that. He rapped, "You used to tell me all the time I ain't your type."


"Wish I Could Say, 'Thank You' To Malcolm, 'Cause He Was An Angel" In "Thank U, Next"

This line from the single "Thank U, Next" is obviously about the rapper. Miller's given name was Malcolm McCormick. The word "angel" is most likely a reference to his passing at such a young age.


"One Taught Me Love, One Taught Me Patience, & One Taught Me Pain" In "Thank U, Next"

In the song "Thank U, Next," Grande mentions "Sean," "Pete," "Ricky," and "Malcolm" by name. Since Big Sean was Grande's first boyfriend in that list, it makes sense that he could've "taught her love." Considering Miller's tragic death, it's entirely possible that's the "pain" she's referencing with this lyric. And as for Davidson, the "patience" part could apply to him. Their relationship moved at a rapid pace, and hopefully he "taught her patience" to carry into her future endeavors.

However, Grande hasn't clarified which name — if any — matches up with any of those lyrics.


"Been Through Some Bad Sh*t, I Should Be A Sad B*tch" In "7 Rings"

On the track "7 Rings," Grande couldn't be more on point when she sings she's "been through some bad sh*t, I should be a sad b*tch. Who woulda thought it'd turn me to a savage?" Grande has come out of all of her obstacles as a much stronger person. Unfortunately, there's a lot of "sad sh*t" that she could be referencing. This could be about the attack during her 2017 concert in Manchester, her recent breakups, Miller's death, or most likely, just a combination of all those things.


"I Ain't Lookin' For My One True Love Yeah, That Ship Sailed Away" In "Bloodline"

This line from the song "Bloodline" could be about Miller, but it's not entirely clear if she considered him her "one true love."


"I Know That It Breaks Your Heart When I Cry Again Over Him" In "Ghostin'"

This lyric from the song "Ghostin" seems to reference mourning a lost love while with a new love. Perhaps it could be referring to how Grande mourned Miller after his death.


"Oh, I Wish He Were Here Instead No One That Living In Your Head He Just Comes To Visit Me When I'm Dreaming Every Now And Then (And Then)" In "Ghostin'"

In a Jan. 23 tweet to a fan, Grande said the song "ghostin" was about "feeling badly for the person you're with bc you love somebody else. feeling badly bc he can tell he can't compare.... and how i should be ghosting him." So basically, it sounds like this song is about one of Grande's exes... which could be Miller as well.


"They See Demon, I See Angel, Angel, Angel" In "In My Head"

Grande referred to Miller by name and described him as "an angel" on her single "Thank U, Next." She could be using that word to describe him yet again in her song "in my head."


"I Can't Fake Another Smile, I Can't Fake Like I'm Alright, Ooh, Ah (Ooh, Ah) & I Won't Say I'm Feeling Fine After What I Been Through, I Can't Lie" On "Fake Smile"

Sadly this reference on "fake smile" could be about many rough times that the singer has endured. It could be about Miller's death, the Manchester incident, her broken engagement, or a combination of those obstacles among others.

There's no doubt about it. Grande has been through a lot in her life. At least she's been able to work through difficulties with her music and even pay tribute to someone who means a lot to her.