The music video for Ariana Grande's latest single thank u, next is a dream come true for fans of teen movies, and is absolutely packed with cameos - both from the original movies' casts, and Grande's celebrity pals. The music video broke YouTube's record for the most number of views garnered within 24 hours of release, with 46 million views in its first day. It's little wonder, given the overwhelming nostalgia of homages to movies like Mean Girls and Legally Blonde, as well as cameos by popular YouTubers like Gabi DeMartino and Troye Sivan.
In addition to recreating the great teen movies of the early 2000s, the thank u, next video also references real-life gossip and drama. The song is a thank-you note to each of Grande's ex-boyfriends - with rapper Big Sean, comedian Pete Davidson, and footballer Ricky Alvarez all making appearances in her "Burn Book," and the late rapper Mac Miller remembered fondly as an "angel." There are also some serious deep cuts - like Troye Sivan saying he heard a rumor that Grande was dating a girl called Aubrey. This was actually the result of a misheard lyric in the song, when Grande says she's in a new and lasting relationship with Ari (i.e. herself).
That's a lot to keep up with, so we've helpfully broken down the thank u, next music video with a handy guide to all of the references and cameos we could spot in the thank u, next video.
- This Page: Mean Girls and Bring It On
- Page 2: 13 Going on 30 and Legally Blonde
Mean Girls Cameos & References
The thank u, next music video starts out with perhaps the most immediately recognizable of the four movies featured: Mean Girls, with Grande herself cast in the role of definitive mean girl Regina George. The big cameo in this segment is Jonathan Bennett, who played dreamboat Aaron Samuels in the 2004 movie. In the video's opening - a recreation of a Mean Girls montage in which high schoolers breathlessly repeat rumors they heard about Regina George - Bennett references a quote from the original movie in which Regina tells him his hair looks sexy pushed back. There's also another familiar face from the original Mean Girls in this portion of the video: Stefanie Drummond, who is perhaps most famous for her character's lament about having "a heavy flow and a wide-set vagina." Playing Stefanie's best friend is Grande's back-up dancer Scott Nicholson (in drag).
Now let's move on to Grande's posse of plastics. On the far left is someone who looks a lot like Lindsay Lohan, but it's actually Elizabeth Gillies, who co-starred with Grande in the Nickelodeon sitcom Victorious. In the role of Karen Smith and Gretchen Wieners are Grande's friends Alexa Luria and Courtney Chipolone, respectively. The blond guy who gushes breathlessly about the rumors of Grande dating a woman, and later gets shoved into a locker, is Troye Sivan, a South African singer and YouTuber. Also featured in the music video's opening is another YouTuber, Gabi DeMartino, who is (rather fittingly) most well-known for her impersonations of Grande.
When the girls recreate the "Jingle Bell Rock" dance number, Kris Jenner fills in the role of Amy Poehler's overly-enthusiastic "cool mom" from the original movie, and even gets the last word in the video.
Related: 17 Crazy Secrets Behind Victorious
Bring It On References & Cameos
Next up is an homage to the 2000 film Bring It On, which originally starred Kirsten Dunst as the newly-crowned leader of an elite high school cheerleading team. In this segment, Grande plays the role of Dunst's character, Torrance Shipman, and recreates three key scenes from the movie: the "cheer-off" with rival team the East Compton Clovers; a cutesy scene in which Torrance brushes her teeth with the movie's love interest, Cliff (originally played by Jesse Bradford); and a scene in which Torrance listens to a tape Cliff made for her and dances around on her bed, wielding pom-poms.
The "cheer-off" scene once again features Chipolone and Luria as members of Torrance's cheerleading team, the Toros, and also includes the heavily pregnant YouTube star Colleen Ballinger, better known by her online persona Miranda Sings. Another of Grande's Victorious co-stars, Daniella Monet, plays another member of the Toros. The Clovers are played by Grande's back-up dancers, Nekai Johnson, Luz Remigio, and Patience Aquart, as well as her fellow musicians and thank u, next co-writers Tayla Parx and Victoria Monét.
The Bring It On portion of the video also features one more Victorious actor: Matt Bennett, who plays the role of Cliff in the tooth-brushing scene.