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“yes, and?” is the wrong message for blocking out criticism (Op-Ed)

Ariana Grande has been a long-time household name for pop enthusiasts. Throughout the last decade plus, she’s released well-received, undeniably catchy hits such as “thank u, next”, “Side to Side”, “dangerous woman” and more, empowering her listeners to assert control of their femininity, their sexuality, and their identities. 

Through the lyricism of her songs and her powerful personality, she’s been hailed as a feminist figure and role model for her fans. However, public image and parasocial relationships can only go so far, especially when the “role model” in question spells out her missteps in her latest new tune. 

“yes, and?”, released on Jan. 12 with an accompanying music video, quickly took over social media and music streaming platforms for its catchy beat, sound clip potential, and artist recognition through Grande’s massive following. 

However, there’s some important context to unpack for this track that may change your mind on Grande’s “IDGAF” attitude. 

Grande met her current romantic partner, Ethan Slater, on the set of “Wicked”, a film she is set to star in later this year. Slater, well-known for his own stardom in “Spongebob Squarepants: The Broadway Musical”, was married to long-time partner Lilly Jay, welcoming a son in 2022. While Grande dealt with her own separation from ex-husband Dalton Gomez, her relationship with Slater was confirmed in July 2023, wherein he filed for divorce from Jay shortly afterward. 

Jay has shared her own perspective of this situation, clearly not holding the most positive attitude toward Grande and Slater’s relationship and influence it has had on her family. 

As pieces were being put together by fans of Broadway, Grande, and “Wicked” alike, it was concluded by several news outlets and private individuals that infidelity was afoot. Public backlash towards the situation was rampant, accusing Grande of being a “homewrecker” and assigning criticism to Slater for seemingly engaging in infidelity while with his wife, especially after a 10-year-long relationship with a new child. 

After the flames flickered down, Grande released “yes, and?” an apparent response to the backlash that affirms her confidence in her actions, questioning listeners as to why they care about her personal life, and what else, if anything, they would like her to say on the matter.

While it’s true that music is subjective and can be applied to different situations, allowing the audience to relate more, this bop of “self-love” and “brushing off the haters” is going to get a “no, thanks” from me.

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