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Ariana Grande’s “thank u, next” music video is a love letter to Legally Blonde, Mean Girls, and Bring It On

Grande has a burn book and masters the bend and snap in her “thank u,next” music video.

Alex Abad-Santos is a senior correspondent who explains what society obsesses over, from Marvel and movies to fitness and skin care. He came to Vox in 2014. Prior to that, he worked at the Atlantic.

Ariana Grande, cherubic pop megastar and proclaimer that God is woman, has released her video for “thank u, next” — an ode to all the boyfriends, relationships, and one broken engagement that helped make her who she is today.

In putting the hit song to video, Grande channeled some of the best scenes from beloved teen movies and romantic comedies, including Mean Girls, Bring It On, 13 Going on 30, and Legally Blonde. The video mashes up and recreates iconic moments from those early-2000s pleasures — the Mean Girls talent show; Elle Woods pulling up to Harvard and teaching the “bend and snap”; the toothbrushing scene from Bring It On. Many of the scenes feature cameos from such famous faces as Kris Jenner, Troye Sivan, and Jennifer Coolidge, among others.

It’s the perfect blend of nostalgia and sweet, Grande pop.

Considering Grande’s successful pop career and infectious hits like “Dangerous Woman,” “Love Me Harder,” and “Break Free,” it might be surprising that “thank u, next” is Grande’s first No. 1 single on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. Like much of her music, it’s the type of catchy earworm that wriggles into your brain and never leaves. But it also comes with a backstory that has propelled it into the wider cultural consciousness.

Grande released “thank u, next” in November, making it a surprise drop in the wake of her much-talked-about breakup with Saturday Night Live cast member Pete Davidson, which itself followed a whirlwind romance and engagement. The song, a graceful and sweet kiss-off track, has since become not only a chart-topping hit but a pop culture moment.

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