Since starting this website, I’ve wrestled with an existential question: would this be a high-brow endeavor where we served up only the freshest cuts and most obscure b-sides, or would it be an unabashedly pop-centric affair where I was free to spin as many crackpot theories as I wanted? I don’t see any reason why it can’t be both, but in this post, we’re planting ourselves squarely in Column B, because Friday Nights are about feelings, ya’ll.
Friday Nights are about feelings, ya’ll.
So let’s talk about Ariana Grande. As I’ve mentioned before, I find it hard to like Ms. Grande unreservedly. She’s an attractive young lady, sure, and she’s got a prodigious singing voice, but her music has a tendency to veer into rah-rah teen anthem territory (“Problem,” “Break Free,” “Bang Bang,” “Focus,” etc.) and her off-stage behavior has threatened to paint her as an entitled, donut-licking diva. Ultimately, though, I am more pro-Ariana than I am against her. And this song has a lot to do with that.
“One Last Time” makes the cut because it’s a sad, feelingsy song full of regret and longing – perfect for a website dedicated to spending your Friday Nights at home alone. But I also love this song because the lyrics are so deliciously messed-up. This isn’t a song about lost love. This is a song about cheating.
At first blush, one would assume that this is your typical “I lost you, I want you back” track, complete with lines like, “I know that I’ve failed you / I should’ve done you better” and “And I know, and I know, and I know / That you got everything / But boy I got nothing here without you”. Pretty standard fare, right? Wrong.
This isn’t a song about lost love. This is a song about cheating.
Remember, this song isn’t called “I Want You Back” or even “Hey, I Know I’m Bad For You, But Let’s Work It Out”, it’s called “One Last Time,” and as the lyrics make it blindingly clear, what we’re talking about is One Last Hookup. Let’s look at the refrain:
“So one last time / I need to be the one who takes you home
One more time / I promise after that, I’ll let you go
Baby I don’t care if you got her in your heart
All I really care is you wake up in my arms
One last time / I need to be the one who takes you home”
HOLY SHIT. That’s some next-level Terrible Human behavior right there. Basically, the gist of this song is, “I know we’ll never work out and you’ve finally found someone that you love and that treats you right, but I want you to risk all of that so that we can bang it out one more time and I can feel something other than the crushing reality of my desperately bleak, selfish existence.”
(It’s worth noting that this song was written not by Grande herself, but by David Guetta and a cadre of other middle-aged European men. If you’re having trouble envisioning what I’m talking about, imagine that last sentence spoken by a 40 year-old Swedish dude. Fits better, doesn’t it?)
At first blush, this song should only be appealing to sociopaths, the protagonists of the Netflix show “Love” or Andrew Lincoln’s character in “Love Actually.” And yet, I still like it, and I suspect that the reason a lot of other normal, non-horrible people like it too is because it’s ultimately very relatable. While most sane people would (or at least, should) stop short of cajoling their ex into an ill-advised hookup, I think many of us understand what it is to feel the bitter sting of regret when you see someone that you still love, but who is now far out of reach. It doesn’t just feel terrible – but as the music video makes it abundantly clear – it feels like the end of the fucking world.
Grande’s new album dropped this week, and if you’re looking for some mellow empowerment, I recommend checking out “Be Alright”. But if you wanna feel some feels, stick with this one.