• Entertainment
  • Music

What Ariana Grande Is Trying to Tell Us With Her New Single ‘Yes, And?’

4 minute read

Ariana Grande uses her music to bookmark the major moments in her life—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sweetener, released in 2018, was her first album after the 2017 terrorist attack at her concert in Manchester, England, killed 22 people. On it, she sang about working through the trauma on “No Tears Left to Cry” and honored the victims of the attack on “Get Well Soon.” The following year, Thank U, Next saw Grande addressing her breakup with Pete Davidson on the title track and the lessons she learned from love on “In My Head” and “Ghostin.” She also wasn’t afraid to talk about learning to love after heartbreak on songs like “Off The Table” on her last album, 2020’s Positions.

Since then, we haven’t heard new music from Grande, apart from one-off collaborations, until Friday, when she released a new single, “Yes, And?”

In the song, Grande gets sassy. The bouncy track has elements of house, and its beat has already gotten numerous comparisons to Madonna’s “Vogue”. In “Yes, And?,” she tells her critics to mind their own business. “Your business is yours, and mine is mine. Why do you care so much whose **** I ride?” she asks on the bridge. Grande also tells everyone to stop commenting on her body; her looks became a topic of discussion in late 2022 when she debuted blonde hair for the new Wicked movie. Grande is ready to live her life the way she wants to.

The music video for “Yes, And?” arrived Friday morning—in it, she invites a group of skeptical critics to a performance of the new song. They seem to receive the message of the song, with three of the audience members so entranced by the singer’s ballroom-inspired choreography that they join her. At the end of the video, the group leaves overjoyed about what they just witnessed—as if to say, anyone who has doubts about Grande needs to get over it, learn how to let loose, and enjoy the music.

Online sleuths quickly caught that Grande was paying an homage to Paula Abdul’s “Cold Hearted” music video, released in 1989. On X (formerly Twitter), one user noted the comparisons between the videos and another pointed out that Abdul’s video was itself an homage to Bob Fosse’s All That Jazz.

Breaking down the lyrics to “Yes, And?”

The song starts with Grande saying that you never know what someone is going through and that everyone has their own baggage. When the chorus comes around, she tells everyone to keep moving past anyone who may criticize them, but if they are gonna say something, ask “yes, and?” 

“Yes, And?” is filled with callbacks and references. Repeatedly, she says that anyone with an opinion should “say that sh-t with their chest.” The lyric references her late ex-boyfriend Mac Miller’s song “Jet Fuel,” where he says, “Rather glow, I won’t stress. Better say that sh-t with your chest.”

Ariana Grande
Ariana GrandeKatia Temkin

The lyric “And if you find yourself in a dark situation, just turn on your light and be like,” refers to her own song, “the light is coming,” where she sings about moving on from dark times by finding the “light” within herself. And the line “Keep moving, like what’s next?” nods to to her 2019’s thank u, next

Who did Ariana Grande work with on this song?

Grande worked with reigning pop hitmakers Max Martin and Ilya Salmanzadeh. This is not the first time this trio has worked together; some of Grande’s biggest hits came from sessions with these creative minds, including “God is a Woman,” “Problem,” “No Tears Left to Cry,” and “Bang Bang.”

What do we know about her next album?

We got a hint as to what Grande will call her next album: Eternal Sunshine. A teaser video for the new single features a red card with the word AG7 (a common internet phrasing given to artists’ untitled new album) and coordinates. Fans entered the coordinates into Google and they were given Montauk, New York—the setting of the Jim Carrey and Kate Winslet-led film, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Grande is a noted Jim Carrey fan and Miller’s fans have said that he was a fan of the movie.

When a fan account posted the theory on Instagram, Grande commented a red heart, which fans interpret as the star affirming this is true. We don’t know much else about when her next project will be released, but along with the album, fans are eagerly awaiting the release of the long-awaited Wicked movie, starring Grande as Glinda opposite Cynthia Erivo’s Elphaba.

More Must-Reads From TIME

Write to Moises Mendez II at moises.mendez@time.com