Ariana Grande’s ‘Yes, and?’ – A Bold Reclamation or a Discordant Note?

Ariana Grande’s seventh album, 'Eternal Sunshine' via Instagram (PHOTO: Genius)

In her latest single, Ariana Grande confronts public opinion and personal controversy with a defiant pop anthem, but does the track deliver the empathetic punch fans crave?

Ariana Grande’s seventh album, 'Eternal Sunshine' via Instagram (PHOTO: Genius)

Ariana Grande’s latest single Yes, and? from her anticipated album Eternal Sunshine, has hit the airwaves with a force that’s as undeniable as it is divisive. With a heart set on addressing the public’s intrusive eye, Grande delivers a pop anthem brimming with defiance. But, the question remains: does this track resonate with the empathetic punch her fans have come to expect? Or does it strike a chord of controversy too discordant to ignore?

The controversy of Grande’s latest drop

A mere mention of Ariana Grande’s name ignites a flurry of excitement and expectation. Known for her soaring vocals and emotionally charged lyrics, Grande’s return to the music scene was one of the most eagerly awaited events of the year. Yes, and? marks her first major release since the hit album Positions in 2020, and it is clear from the onset that this is a Grande like we’ve never seen before.

From the opening bars, the song pulsates with an energetic house beat—a departure from the smooth R&B stylings that defined her previous work. The lyrics, a forthright commentary on her personal life’s public scrutiny, serve as both a challenge and a chant of liberation. Grande is drawing her line in the sand, claiming ownership of her narrative in a way that’s impossible to ignore.

However, the track’s release was not without its tremors. Grande’s candid approach sparked a wave of reactions. According to BuzzFeed News, the loss of over 350,000 Instagram followers in the aftermath is telling of the song’s polarising nature. Yet, despite the backlash, Yes, and? conquered the charts, securing the top spot on the Global Spotify Chart with a staggering 11 million streams on its debut day.

Ariana Grande in her latest single “Yes, and?” – music video. (PHOTO: Vulture)

The music video is an artistic revelation in its own right, with choreography that nods to the legends of dance and pop culture. Fosse’s influence is palpable, and the vibrant homage to ballroom culture adds layers of complexity to the song’s interpretation. Critics, however, have not shied away from drawing comparisons to icons like Paula Abdul, with some branding the video a less-than-original echo of past glories.

A resonating anthem or a missed beat?

When I first heard Ariana Grande’s Yes, and?, my initial reaction was lukewarm, hence my original rating of 5/10.

The song felt like a departure from the Ariana I was familiar with—those soulful R&B melodies that characterised Positions were replaced with a pulsing house beat, and the unapologetically bold lyrics seemed to hit a dissonant note with me. It was a stark contrast to the subtler storytelling I had come to expect from her music, and the heavy focus on personal controversy felt jarring.

But as I delved deeper into the song’s layers and allowed myself to absorb its context and message, my perspective shifted. I began to appreciate the track for what it represented—a fierce declaration of self, amidst the whirlwind of public scrutiny. Ariana Grande’s candid approach, which I initially perceived as brash, transformed into a raw and powerful stance of taking control over her narrative. The song’s upbeat tempo and vibrant energy, which at first felt overwhelming, started to resonate as an anthem of empowerment and liberation from societal judgement.

The verdict? Yes, and? is a grower. With time and reflection, what might initially come across as an underwhelming 5/10 evolves into a solid 7/10. It is a song that grows on you, its layers revealing themselves with each listen, transforming the experience from one of scepticism to one of appreciation.

It is a reminder that music can be both a personal catharsis and a universal call to shake off the shackles of judgement, and for that, it earns its place on my playlist.

A cultural moment worthy of discussion

Whether it hits a sour note or plays like a symphony in your ears, this track is Ariana Grande’s glare into the spotlight that both illuminates and obscures her. It’s an anthem that demands you dance as it dares you to judge, a pop confection laced with a bite. 

So, spin it, stream it, scrutinise it. ‘Yes, And?’ isn’t just a song, it’s a cultural moment that beckons a listen and a lively debate. As you embark on this musical journey, keep in mind that Yes, and? is just the beginning. Ariana Grande’s upcoming album, Eternal Sunshine, is set to release on March 8, 2024, via Republic Records. 

Strap in for the ride; it promises to be as enigmatic and enthralling as the artist herself.