It's absolutely no secret how big of a year Ariana Grande has had. The release and success of Sweetener, her fourth studio album, in August 2018 put her at the top of everybody's most-loved lists — and sparked plenty of conversation. Most recently, singles from her new album Thank U, Next, have made headlines, including the titular first single, which sweetly mentioned a few of Grande's high-profile exes, including her ex-fiancé. And unsurprisingly, there are several Pete Davidson references on Thank U, Next. Nods to the SNL cast member appeared multiple times on the album, which dropped early on Friday, Feb. 8.
Grande and Davidson broke up in mid-October 2018 after striking up a relationship in May of that year. Soon after, Grande released the mega-hit "Thank U, Next," which is all about finding self-love after a breakup and seeing the good in those past relationships. In the song, Grande name drops Davidson, along with famous exes Big Sean, Ricky Alvarez, and Mac Miller. Moreover, Davidson's photo actually appears in her "Burn Book" of exes in the Mean Girls-inspired video.
Needless to say, fans were expecting many references to Davidson on the album. And they were right.
"Thank U, Next"
This twist on a breakup song mentions quite a few exes, but Davidson's name really stuck out, as Grande crooned the lyric, "And for Pete I'm so thankful." That's a pretty classy way to speak about an ex. Also, when she's writing in her Burn Book in the video, you can see a pic of the two pre-breakup.
Though Davidson isn't explicitly mentioned by name on the third single from Thank U, Next, "7 Rings," the singer does have a line that could be referencing, in part, her breakup with him. "Been through some bad sh*t, I should be a sad bitch / Who woulda thought it'd turn me to a savage?" she sings on the track. Following in the footsteps of "Thank U, Next," the lyrics of "7 Rings" clearly show that Grande is continuing to evolve throughout any bad times in her life.
Later in the song, Grande also sings about the apartment she got with "his and hers" closets, which could be a reference to the New York City apartment she bought while the two were engaged.
In the very first verse of the song, Ari sings, "Lately I've been on a rollercoaster / Tryna get a hold of my emotions / But all that I know, is I need you close," and that might point to her most recent breakup with Davidson. Of course, unfortunately Grande has had more than her fair share of heartbreak recently. There was the Manchester bombing in May 2017, along with the passing of ex and good friend Mac Miller in September.
In verse two, she talks about how, with "all this damage," she can't being selfish and needy. Again, it doesn't seem to be just a Davidson thing, but the breakup likely didn't help matters.
This one not only has a fast and infectious as hell beat, but it might be the one that's most about Davidson. The whole song is basically about wanting someone that might be the best fit for you, and realizing that you don't want them in your bloodline. "Just wanna have a good time, yuh / Ain't no need to apologize, no / But you gon' have to let this sh*t go." Considering she and Davidson were engaged, the next step may have been kids, aka a bloodline together, as one contributor pointed out on Genius.
Alright, this one is probably the most heartbreaking thus far. In a tweet to a fan who asked what the track is about, Grande wrote in January,
"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."
The lyrics are about crying while with one guy while still in love or thinking all about another man. It's about the guilt for doing this to him. While it could hypothetically be about any of her past exes, or even one we might not know about, these are lyrics in question:
"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)"
She's called Mac Miller an angel before in "Thank U, Next," so having dreams where he shows up would make sense. Plus, Davidson was the relationship she had right after. This song features the most tender feelings, and has Twitter ready to sob themselves to sleep over it.
"In My Head"
If "Ghostin" was sentimental and full of hurt and guilt, then the next song, "In My Head," is a straight flip of a switch in both beat and attitude. It starts with Grande's longtime friend Doug Middlebrook's voicemail about how she's created a perfect image of someone who doesn't actually exist. And essentially, that's what the song is all about. How could that be about Davidson? Let's see.
She sings that she "thought that [he was] the one." Davidson was the only one Grande was ever engaged to, so that might be why for a long time she was holding out hope that he was it for her. The post chorus goes, "Yeah, look at you, boy, I invented you / Your Gucci tennis shoes runnin' from your issues." Some would argue that Grande made Pete Davidson a household name and boosted his relevance in mainstream pop culture, even though he already was a cast member on SNL.
There are other hints that she's referring to Davidson, including in the last verse — "Wanted you to grow, but, boy, you wasn’t budding." Near the end of their engagement/relationship, there were a few things that Davidson joked about Grande that were immature and borderline vulgar, and this could be a hint at that.
So while not every song has a Davidson reference, he impacted her last year, especially since Sweetener, so it's only natural that he'd influence some of her writing.