“yes, and?”: The Defiant Dance Floor Return of Ariana Grande

After years of “yuh,” Ari delivers an instantly fierce, early ’90s-inspired “yes” that doubles as a response to the critics.

“Yes, and?”

She’s followed the Yellow Brick Road back home from the Wicked film set in Buckinghamshire, and graciously resurfaced from her many voyages down to Bikini Bottom to visit a pineapple under the sea: Ariana Grande is back, and kicking off a new album campaign right at the top of 2024.

“yes, and?” is the lead single, out on Friday (January 12). And it’s a big, gay, defiant, uptempo dance-pop self-empowerment anthem. Thank fuck for that.

After spending several years “yuh“-ing through largely midtempo R&B and trap-inspired territory on albums like sweetener, thank u, next and positions, the pint-sized pop powerhouse went into a New York City recording studio at the end of 2023 and tapped her constant collaborators, the “Into You” dream team, once more: Max Martin and Ilya.

This time however, the end result is more “Break Free” than “break up with your boyfriend, i’m bored,” delivered with a smile on the dance floor…and two middle fingers hoisted in the air.

In Max We Trust.

Thirty years since the mainstream America first heard his work with the Backstreet Boys, the Undisputed Swedish King of Pop Production™ sounds as fresh and dialed-in as ever in 2024. Barring only a few duds you can count on one hand over the decades (here’s looking at you, Kim Petras‘ “If Jesus Was a Rockstar”!), no one should be surprised.

Ariana arguably really found her signature sonic sweet spot by the time thank u, next rolled around, but those who also lived for the dance-pop bangers crafted alongside Max from the My Everything and Dangerous Woman eras are being fed once more. From the moment the beat drops after its extended intro, “yes, and?” is instant bliss through to the final, euphoric riffs. And can we make some commotion for that meaty 3:35 track time – complete with an actual bridge? Thank you, yes!

Magical, life’s a ball, so get up on the dance floor.

Early stan reports suggested Ari either sampled or interpolated Madonna‘s “Vogue” on “yes, and?” And while the final product isn’t exactly that, nor is there a songwriting credit to signify any official sampling, there’s no doubt that the song’s general pulsating energy is all sorts of early ’90s, Shep Pettibone remixes and productions – the Erotica album, a little Whitney and Mariah Carey remix territory, etc.

The empowerment-on-the-dance-floor messaging is of course very “Vogue” too, and if this song is a ponytail flick in the Queen of Pop’s direction (also known as God herself, a la the “God Is a Woman” video), it would come as no surprise. Between this and “Break My Soul,” everybody’s been doing “Vogue” tributes!

Say that shit with your chest.

Ari’s got a knack for transforming short, cutesy-but-cunty, Instagram caption-ready phrases and Internet speak/slang into forever earworms – this whole song is basically her “and what about it?” GIF and Azealia Banks“so…what now?” moment in song form.

Accordingly, the chorus is authentically Ari brand of self-empowerment: it’s funny, honest and fierce all at once: “‘Yes, and?’ / Say that shit with your chest, and / Be your own fuckin’ best friend / Say that shit with your chest / Keep moving like, ‘What’s next?’

Why do you care so much whose dick I ride?

As demonstrated on tracks like “thank u, next” (or, erm, song titles like “pete davidson”), Ari doesn’t shy away from referencing events in her personal life – or, at least, things she thinks might have happened, like gay affair anthem, “Break Your Heart Right Back.”

And if you’ve been following along for the ride in the past year or so, there are generally two big topics surrounding the singer in the press, which she’s since spoken out about: rampant commentary and/or concern about her physical appearance, and her eyebrow-raising rollercoaster of a love life, including the questionable timeline of her whirlwind divorce-turned-new romance with former SpongeBob SquarePants stage star-turned-Wicked co-star, Ethan Slater. She succinctly tackles all of the above with a sugary-sweet, speak-sung bridge: “Don’t comment on my body, do not reply / Your business is yours and mine is mine / Why do you care so much whose dick I ride?” And that’s that on that!

Beyond just being a total “fuck you” though, there’s also a kindness extended throughout “yes, and?” as she encourages us to turn on the light (“the light is coming,” after all) and remember that everyone is going through something.

Everybody’s tired, and healin’ from somebody or somethin’ we don’t see just right,” she sings. That’s a nod to the well-publicized trauma and loss she’s been through, undoubtedly…but also maybe her bad eyesight too, which causes her to squint her way through life. She definitely don’t see right!

What’s next?

I don’t think there’s a world where “yes, and?” isn’t an absolutely massive hit for Ariana. It’s an obvious smash, unless it’s somehow too gay for the general public (“Boy, come on, put your lipstick on…“), playing at a frequency only the girls, gays and theys can hear…which, to be fair, is always a possibility. (In a parallel universe, “Into You” was No. 1 for fifty fucking weeks.)

If this is any indication where Eternal Sunshine – the alleged name of her seventh studio album – is heading, is this going to be one of the biggest albums of 2024? Well, yes!

UPDATE: The music video being a ponytail tip to Paula Abdul‘s Cold Hearted”? We are so back.

Click here to buy Ariana Grande’s studio albums on vinyl.

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Photo credit: Katia Temkin

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