Ariana Grande – ‘Eternal Sunshine’ review: into the cosmos with pop’s beacon of positivity

Ariana Grande pays tribute to the good times on her seventh album.


As you edge closer to 30, people around you who’ve already reached that milestone let you in on a secret: this decade of your life is one where you really learn to stop caring what other people think and step into your most authentic self yet. Astrologists would put this down to Saturn return, an astrological transit that takes place roughly every 29-and-a-half years and is said to help take you into a new stage of your life. 

It’s a theory that Ariana Grande seems to buy into on ‘Eternal Sunshine’. Four tracks into the record – an unexpected release that poured out of her while Hollywood and her upcoming film Wicked were on strike – astrologist Diana Garland takes the spotlight. “Saturn comes along and hits you over the head […] and says, ‘Wake up!’” she explains over glitching sound effects and an elegant dreamscape of piano. “It’s time for you to get real about life and sort out who you really are.” 

‘Eternal Sunshine’ finds Grande in transitional mode. After thinking she’d found her happily ever after in real estate agent Dalton Gomez, she filed for divorce last September, two years into their marriage. Since news broke of the pop star’s relationship woes, her love life has remained in the headlines, with the rumour mill going into overdrive about the timeline of her reported new partner, Wicked co-star Ethan Slater. On this album, she not only picks herself up and surveys the wreckage of that relationship, trying to find ways to move on, but reminds her critics and online gossips to mind their own business. 


In case you haven’t noticed / Well, everybody’s tired / And healin’ from somebody / Or something we don’t see just right,” she sings in the opening lines of ‘Yes, And?’, the only track that previewed the album. As the song’s voguing groove grows, she continues with pointed but polite declarations about her attitude to life. “Now I’m so done with caring / What you think, no, I won’t hide,” she vows. “Underneath your own projections or change my most authentic life.” 

That approach is typical of ‘Eternal Sunshine’’s M.O. This isn’t a record of sassy jibes and put-downs to past lovers, but one that tries to stay positive through the dark and pay tribute to the good times – even if things didn’t end the way Grande might have hoped. On ‘Bye’, a staccato R&B gem, she acknowledges the effort she and her partner put into their relationship: “At least I know how hard we tried / Both you and me / Didn’t we?” 

On the shuffling softness of ‘Don’t Wanna Break Up Again’, she questions how much her other half really tried but still refuses to get caught up in pettiness. “I don’t wanna fuck with your head / It’s breaking my heart / To keep breaking yours again,” she sighs. Later, she shares an optimistic wish for them: “Hope you won’t, won’t regret me / Hope you’ll still think fondly / Of our little life.” 

Not all of this album deals with break-up analysis. ‘True Story’ and ‘The Boy Is Mine’ – which interpolates the ‘90s classic of the same name by Brandy and Monica – offer a centrepiece of “bad girl anthems”. The former has Grande offering to “play the villain if you need me to” before jumping into the role on the latter, taking what she wants when she sees it. 

In a move that feels fitting for a record that feels guided by astrological transits, much of ‘Eternal Sunshine’ sounds like it was crafted out in the cosmos. The title track – a reference to Grande’s beloved Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind, which loosely inspired the concept behind this album – is propelled by clipping beats that sound like distantly twinkling stars. The polished pop of ‘Supernatural’ could have been beamed in from a spaceship gliding through space, while ‘I Wish I Hated You’ takes on a more ambient edge, glittering like it is covered in space dust. 

Now 30, Grande should be coming to the end of her Saturn return and settling into her next chapter. The bookends of ‘Eternal Sunshine’ imply she has found some conclusion, at least for now and at least in the romantic field. Opening track ‘Intro (End Of The World)’ has her questioning: “How can I tell if I’m in the right relationship? / Aren’t you really supposed to know that shit?” But in the finale, ‘Ordinary Things’, Nonna helps give her the answer. “Never go to bed without kissing goodnight,” Marjorie Grande begins. “That’s the worst thing to do – don’t ever, ever do that. And if you can’t and if you don’t feel comfortable doing it, you’re in the wrong place – get out.” Wise words that leave a healing record in a positive place, and the pop star at the heart of it seemingly ready to take on the world more confident than ever. 

ariana-grande-eternal-sunshine-reviewReleased 8 March 2024