Music videos haven’t felt like a communal event since the heydays of MTV and TRL Live, but with the advent of live-streaming, the shared experience may be making a comeback. Today, Ariana Grande debuted the video for her relationship-themed single, “thank u, next,” and a lot of people got together on YouTube to watch it at the same time.
With services like Twitch, this phenomenon has become fairly standard when it comes to video games, commentary, and certain types of announcements, but Grande’s video may be the first time the live streaming format has been used for a high-profile music video. The hype was helped by Grande’s teases on social media, which hinted that the video would be a homage to Mean Girls, a movie that has become a cultural touchstone for millennials. The song itself has also become a point of fascination on the internet thanks to how public Grande has been about her relationship struggles on social media.
Other references to various iconic chick-flicks abound in the “thank u, next” video, as do a number of hilarious cameos. The highlight, for me at least, has to be Kris Jenner’s appearance as Ariana’s mother — as my colleague Julia Alexander pointed out to me, we now have an update to the “you’re doing great, sweetie,” meme. Judging from the reactions in the chat, I wasn’t alone in feeling this way.
Grande has had a big week on YouTube: prior to this, she launched a four-part docuseries chronicling her recent tour. The docuseries heavily features entire songs from the concerts, and also gives a behind-the-scenes look at Grande’s life on the road, especially after the tragic Manchester attack. The episodes are being released for free weekly here, though YouTube Red subscribers can watch the whole thing now.
Update November 30th: A YouTube Music representative informs The Verge that the actual concurrent viewership number is 829,000 viewers, marking a record for Premieres on YouTube.