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Released: 2014

At its core, “One Last Time” by Ariana Grande is a heart-wrenching plea for closure. In this song, Ariana croons with regret and longing, capturing remorse over past actions, and a desperate desire for one last memorable moment with the one she loves but can no longer be with.

The opening and recurring lines in the song – “I was a liar, I gave in to the fire..” paint an image of Grande’s honest admittance to her mistakes. She was overwhelmed by the ‘fire,’ representing either an irresistible temptation or a distracting obstacle, and, to her regret, she succumbed to it. This suspicion becomes doubly convincing when she discloses “I should’ve done you better, ’cause you don’t want a liar” – her lover deserved more than what she offered.

Grande’s regret is palpable, deepening when she acknowledges that another woman is now able to give her lover everything she couldn’t. In pop culture this is classic second-fiddle syndrome – being left behind for someone else who ticks all the boxes.

The chorus – “One last time, I need to be the one who takes you home..” is a desperate plea for a final intimate moment, a need to etch a memory that both of them can hold onto. The turn of phrase “taking you home” is pretty loaded, often a metaphor for a close, loving, and intimate connection – Grande wants to live this connection one last time before she finds the strength to let go.

The recurring statement – ‘Baby, I don’t care if you got her in your heart, All I really care is you wake up in my arms’ is pretty heavy, symbolizing Grande’s willingness to be a transitionary comfort, no matter the undercurrent of pain. This is a great reference to the brutal honesty that often accompanies those messy ends to relationships, you know, the ones that don’t make for a neat breakup ballad.

The lines “Can’t you forgive me? At least just temporarily” and “But stay with me a minute, I swear I’ll make it worth it,” further emphasize the desperation she feels. They display a need for forgiveness and a chance for redemption, even if temporary, even though she admits she doesn’t deserve it. A classic example of the ‘say-what-you-need-to-say’ trope, climb that mountain, cross that bridge, Grande needs this for closure.

In the grand scheme of pop, “One Last Time” is a classic tale of an anguished plea for closure. It beautifully captures the feeling of longing, regret and the desire for one final moment of connection before moving on. And it’s Ariana Grande’s soulful delivery that makes us as listeners respond with empathy, because everyone’s had that one breakup where they just wanted – one last time.

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