At midnight on Friday, Ariana Grande's new single dropped. Within minutes of the video's release, anyone who watched the lyric video probably had one central question on their mind: is Grande's "Imagine" about Pete Davidson? Of course, the artist hasn't answered that question — at least, not yet. But there are some telling hints.
In her new song, Grande sings about trying to visualize a world in which she and her lover are able to live normal lives with one another. The lyrics read in part,
Imagine/ Step up the two of us/ Nobody knows us/ Get in the car like/ skkkkrt/ Staying up all night/ Order me pad thai/ Then we gon sleep til' noon/ Me with no makeup/ You in the bathtub/ Bubbles and bubbly/ This is a pleasure/ Feel like we never/ Act this regular
Even if the song isn't about Davidson, it certainly addresses some of the strains of fame, as well as the universal stress of social media. One repeating line Ariana uses is "click click click and post," which seems to reference social media habits.
As for Grande, she acknowledged the drop of "Imagine"with multiple tweets on Thursday evening, though none of them mentioned Davidson. She wrote at one point, "hi my link won't work yet so i won't tweet it yet but i see your tweets rn and i cannot stop smiling"
Grande first announced "Imagine" on Dec. 11. Then, on Dec. 12, she took to Instagram to share her thoughts on the new single. In an unpublished tweet draft that she shared as a screenshot on her Instagram story, Grande wrote,
a lot of this album mourns failed yet important, beautiful relationships in my life (as well as celebrates growth / exploring new independence). but for those of you asking about imagine: i would say if 'thank u, next' = acceptance... 'imagine' = denial. hope that makes sense.
So it follows that Grande has technically confirmed that this song focuses on themes of denial, and that it may be about a real relationship in her life, one that she considers to be "failed yet important, beautiful."
Then, when one of her fan accounts tweeted a picture of Grande's explanation, suggesting that "Imagine" might be a "darker version of 'Thank U, Next,'" the pop star replied to that tweet.
Grande wrote, "kind of like... pretending it never ended. denial. but i look forward to you hearing it and having your own experience with it. you may take away something totally different and specific to your life! love u."
In response to another fan comment, Grande said that her new album was "terrifyingly" personal, "like I want to take things off. but my friends tell me not to." But then in response to another fan who thanked her for creating such "personal n honest" music, Grande replied, "thank u for making me feel safe in doing so."
In the time since their breakup, Grande has repeatedly told her fans that she still has love and respect for Davidson. In an Instagram story post on Dec. 4, Grande called out those who were bullying Davidson, after he shared his own courageous battle with mental health.
Grande wrote, "I will always have irrevocable love for him and if you’ve gotten any other impression from my recent work, you might have missed the point.”