Sometimes it’s best to be excluded from the narrative.
Although Ariana Grande namedropped her four of her exes in new breakup anthem “Thank U, Next,” the singer didn’t mention all of her former flames — like Nathan Sykes, a singer and former member of boy band The Wanted, who briefly dated Grande in 2013.
Sykes first found out he hadn’t been mentioned in the song during an interview with TMZ, to which the singer replied, “That’s good!”
Although he hadn’t listened to “Thank U, Next” at the time, he also told the outlet that, “I hear it’s fantastic, so that’s amazing.”
While Grande had her sights set on Sykes since she laid eyes on him early in her career on a red carpet, it wasn’t until the music video shoot for their duet “Almost Is Never Enough” that sparks began to fly. After months of speculation, both Sykes and Grande took to social media to confirm their relationship on Twitter.
In January 2014, Grande confirmed in a radio interview that she and Sykes had decided to split after a five-month-long relationship due to distance, but insisted that they remain close friends.
A fond meditation on her past romances, “Thank U, Next” begins by reviewing her time with rapper Big Sean, dancer Ricky Alvarez, former fiancé Pete Davidson and musician Mac Miller) (born Malcolm McCormick, who died on Sept. 7 at age 26.
In response to the namecheck, Alvarez, 26, posted a funny (and sweet) video to his Instagram Story of him listening to the new track, with the camera zooming in for a startling close up as she sings the line, “Wrote some songs about Ricky, now I listen and laugh.”
Then he got sincere by posting a text panel reading “Nothing but gratitude,” with a black heart emoji. He even threw in a musical compliment: “Thank you, next… (those songs are fire tho… you’re welcome).”
Grande, 25, saw the message and reshared it on her own Instagram Story — with some crucial commentary. “Oh for sure … ty next,”” she wrote. “HAHAHAHAHHAHAHAH IM SORRY U GOT THE WORST LINE. It was meant v lovingly.”
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Grande dropped the song last Saturday, weeks after her October split from her former fiancé Davidson — and minutes before Saturday Night Live aired.
Although the singer has had a rocky few months, a source recently told PEOPLE that “she seems very happy and positive.”
“She isn’t talking about dating and is instead focused on work and herself,” the source remarked, adding that she and Davidson “have no contact now.”
“She keeps moving forward,” the insider added.
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