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Released: 2024

Ariana Grande’s “yes, and?” lays out an anthem of self-empowerment and resilience in the face of life’s metaphorical fires and projections from others. At its core, it’s a pulsating rally cry to embrace and celebrate your true self, undeterred by the noise around you.

The repeated lines, “Dancing on, I keep,” set the scene with the image of someone dancing through their troubles. She’s unwavering, relentless, the beat goes on and so does she. It’s a very Ariana Grande move, intertwining adversity with a rhythm that just can’t stop.

As Grande draws us in with the realization that “everybody’s tired / And healin’ from somebody / Or somethin’ we don’t see just right,” she universalizes the experience of being worn down by invisible battles. It’s a nod to our collective fatigue and the healing that we’re all looking for, often from wounds that aren’t obvious to outsiders. Then she flips the script, saying, “Boy, come on, put your lipstick on,” using the act of applying lipstick as a metaphor for putting on one’s courage and facing the world head-on, regardless of others’ judgements. With “don’t care what’s on their mind,” she dismisses the irrelevant opinions of naysayers, advocating for a headstrong march through whatever challenges arise.

The chorus of “Yes, and?” embodies the principle of improvisation, normally found in theater, where actors accept what another actor has stated (“yes”) and then expand on that line of thought (“and”). Here, Grande repurposes this concept as a mantra for life. To say something “with your chest” means to say it with conviction and confidence; to assert your truth boldly. When she tells listeners to be their own best friend, Grande is underlining the importance of self-love and reliance in a world that often tries to beat you down. “Keep movin’ like, ‘What’s next?'” suggests that no matter what happens, you should keep looking forward, ready for the next opportunity or challenge.

In the bridge, Grande lays down her boundaries with “My tongue is sacred, I speak upon what I like,” which emphasizes her control over her narrative and voice. She describes herself as “Protected, sexy, discerning with my time,” showing an appreciation for her own worth and a refusal to squander it on those not deserving. “Your energy is yours and mine is mine,” she declares, reinforcing the theme of personal sovereignty and the importance of maintaining one’s own space.

With the declaration “Don’t comment on my body, do not reply,” Grande shuts down unsolicited opinions about her physical appearance, asserting her right to exist without critique. “Why do you care so much whose – I ride?” she asks rhetorically, challenging the invasive nature of celebrity culture where her personal life is scrutinized. She’s calling out the unnecessary obsession with who she’s dating, emphasizing that it’s her business alone.

The outro reiterates the central message of the track with “Yes, and?” and the emphasis on self-advocacy and progression. Grande empowers listeners to become their most steadfast support system. The song itself is a tapestry of modern pop hooks and beats with a steadfast message of self-acceptance and forward momentum.

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