The music video for Ariana Grande’s “break up with your girlfriend, i'm bored” from her new album “thank u, next” certainly complements the catchy, sassy tone of the song. The video flashes between Ariana Grande on a porch with a beautiful cityscape behind her at sunset and a full party set at a luxurious home with tall staircases and large glass windows, where each person is just an ambiguous body except for the three main subjects: Ariana, the sought-after boy, and his girlfriend.
The entire video appears to be focused on this one pretty boy. To compliment the lyrics “Ain’t used to feelin’ this way (Mmmm-mmm) I do not know what to say (Yeah Yeah),” Ariana presents longing looks as she broods over the fact that he is already taken. Contrastingly, the chorus of “Break up with your girlfriend (Girlfriend), yeah yeah, ‘cause I’m bored” removes the gravity of emotion from her lyrics, and makes it seem as though perhaps her longing looks are interchangeable with sighs of boredom.
Ariana goes about trying to “steal” this boy away from his girlfriend by seemingly paying more attention to the girlfriend than the boy. Despite the lyrics, “You could say I’m hatin’ if you want to, But I only hate on her ‘cause I want you,” the video displays numerous shots of Ariana and this boy’s girlfriend dancing together, hugging, and clips of both girls provocatively touching each other’s hair. The two women also have eerily similar features: their eyes, hair, and bone structure. On multiple occasions, it is almost difficult to tell them apart. Perhaps this is a nod to the interchangeability of the two women in the eyes of the pursued boy, or the fact that Ariana can easily imagine herself in the position of this other woman. The attention Ariana gives the girl rather than the boy seems like an interesting choice of narrative, perhaps foreshadowing what is to come.
Between the various shots of Ariana at sunset and scenes of her dancing together with the boy and his girlfriend, the video starts to become slightly repetitive. The steady pulse of the song makes the video feel predictable and unsurprising: a song about a somewhat bored celeb looking to spice up her life with the addition of a sexy, taken, love interest. The end of the video, however, brings a massive plot twist. Ariana rejoins the boy and his girlfriend in a swimming pool. She leans in, as if to finally make a definite move on him, then instead is pulled away by the girlfriend and the two women lean in to kiss one another. Though the video cuts off before any definite answers are given, it is pretty easy to imagine the following scene.
This surprising ending causes a questioning in the meaning of the entire song. Is Ariana asking this boy to break up with his girlfriend because she wants him or because she wants her? Is she actually referring to the girlfriend when she sings, “Then I realize she’s right there / and I’m at home like ‘Damn this ain’t fair?’” One must also wonder if Ariana is trying to make her audience question the implied sexuality of her song with this video, or if she is merely trying to emphasize the reality of her boredom — that she does not truly care about the specific boy or his girlfriend, she just wants to create more drama. Regardless, the plot twist saves the entire music video. The video ends with a bang. Despite being otherwise predictable and somewhat ordinary, the end leads to numerous conversations of confusion, excitement, and interest.
— Staff writer Alexandra C. Kim can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org