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What Does Ariana Grande’s ‘Yes, And?’ Debut Tell Us About Her Upcoming Album Cycle?

today01/23/2024

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Ariana Grande is back: After three years of relative quiet (outside of a chart-topping Weeknd collab here or there), the pop superstar returned earlier this month with the lead single from her upcoming Eternal Sunshine album, “Yes, And?”

The house-flavored new song, offered largely in response to gossip about her personal life and body image in the intervening years, debuts at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 this week, edging past Jack Harlow’s reigning champ “Lovin on Me.” The song was helped over the top by a variety of remixes and edits, which assisted the song’s 2024-best sales debut (53,000).

What does Grande’s new song portend about her new era? And will the song stick around for a long time to come? Billboard staffers discuss these questions and more below.

1. “Yes, And?” debuts atop the Billboard Hot 100, albeit in a closer race with second-place-finisher “Lovin on Me” than some might have expected. Do you expect the song to be a long-lasting top pop hit, or more of a quick re-introduction of Grande’s new era before the rest of the Eternal Sunshine rollout?

Rania Aniftos: Grande’s standout hits from her albums are rarely the lead single, and I think that will probably be the case with Eternal Sunshine as well. I’m hoping for a less controversial track that actually represents the growth that Ari sees in herself over the next few weeks, and I hope that’s the one that stands the test of time!

Kyle Denis: I think this is definitely more of a quick re-introduction of Grande to the pop music scene. Rumors are already swirling about a new single arriving as early as next month, so I’d imagine we get at least one more taste of the album before March 8. With that being said, I also don’t think “Yes, And?” will freefall down the Hot 100. I doubt it spends multiple weeks at No. 1, but once it hits its stride on radio, it should end up being a solid hit that likely follows a similar chart run to her own “No Tears Left to Cry.”

Joe Lynch: I don’t see it being an ongoing threat for the No. 1 spot in the way that “Thank U, Next” and “7 Rings” dominated, but when it comes to Ari’s Hot 100-toppers, even a song like the Justin Bieber collab “Stuck With U” – probably her least beloved single to top the Hot 100 – remained on that chart for 18 weeks. She has an amazing voice that’s well-suited to the current radio landscape and she streams well, so I expect it to stick around… but would be surprised to see it at No. 1 for more than 2 weeks in total.  

Meghan Mahar: I think that “Yes, And?” has the potential to become a more dominant No. 1 over “Lovin on Me,” but it ultimately serves as a safe introduction to her Eternal Sunshine era. Historically, dance and dance-adjacent hits have performed well for Grande — but I feel that this was an opportune time to release a song like “Yes, And?” that is lighthearted and club-friendly. There has been a clear demand for these songs, as we’ve seen with the success of releases including David Guetta and Bebe Rexha’s “I’m Good (Blue),” Troye Sivan’s “Rush,” and Dua Lipa’s “Houdini.”

Andrew Unterberger: It seems likely to me to follow a “Vampire”-type trajectory: Just the one week on top, but at least a handful in the top 10, and a long run in the top 40 as radio picks up on it. Not an era-defining smash, but big enough to re-announce Grande’s presence with authority as needed.

2. It’s already been over three years since the release of her most recent album, 2020’s Positions. Do you think Grande’s returning to pop music in 2024 in stronger, weaker or about the same standing as when she left?

Rania Aniftos: It’s a tough question, because while musically, she’s returning to pop in an equally powerful place as she left it, her public image has been a bit compromised over the past year due to headlines surrounding her relationship. I’ve already been seeing fan reactions to the song, expressing disappointment at the sentiment despite liking how catchy the track is — with longtime supporters feeling uncomfortable giving her streams and listening to the song. If she can gracefully navigate the personal aspects of her public perception, I think she’s geared up to create a Thank U, Next-like splash with her upcoming album.

Kyle Denis: Stronger. Although the split opinions regarding her romantic life are incredibly loud on the Internet, Grande is returning to the scene as an elder stateswoman of sorts. Last year, she celebrated the ten-year anniversary of her pop recording career, she has a blockbuster film (Wicked: Part One) on the horizon, and she already had five No. 1 hits this decade before “Yes, And?” was announced. You’d be hard-pressed to find a post-Grande pop star who can match her string of quality hit singles over the past decade – and that’s why her absence was so deeply felt. Just five years ago, Grande’s name was among the list of stars who had countless hits and no Hot 100 chart-toppers. Now, she’s expected to debut at No. 1 practically every time she releases music. If that doesn’t make it clear how much her position in pop’s hierarchy has changed, I don’t know what would!

Joe Lynch: Pop is such a youth-oriented (youth-obsessed, really) market that it’s hard to pretend like four years is nothing — and yet, did she really go away? Ten months ago, she topped the Hot 100 with the Weeknd duet “Die For You,” and her modern seasonal staple (“Santa Tell Me”) reached an all-time peak this month. It might be a new era, but don’t call it a comeback. Within a couple percentage points for error, I would say she’s as strong as when Positions dropped. 

Meghan Mahar: Stronger. Headlines about Grande in the time since Positions, whether they were about her relationships or teasers of her work on Wicked, kept her in the news cycle and fueled interest in her next project. What truly gives her a competitive edge, though, is the public’s need for a pop superstar. Many have released successful projects and grown to great heights over the past few years, but none have Grande’s artistic vision and vocal capabilities.

Andrew Unterberger: Maybe a little stronger. It’s hard to remember the last time a pop star was as palpably missed in the top 40 world as Ariana has been in her relative absence — if the popularity of Tate McRae’s “Greedy” and Sabrina Carpenter’s “Nonsense” year were any indication, fans were practically champing at the bit for Grande-sized radio singles. Maybe some fans have turned on her, but as Doja Cat has proven multiple times this decade, hits solve just about everything — and Grande has never been in short supply of those.

3. “Yes, And?” adopts a fairly house-forward sound for Grande, resulting in her first-ever No. 1 on the Dance/Electronic Songs Chart. Do you think that foreshadows a full pivot to dance with Eternal Sunshine — and do you hope it does?

Rania Aniftos: I do! It’s a fun pivot for an artist who has been around for more than a decade at this point. It keeps things fresh, not only for her but also for her fans, and it plays on the nostalgia trend in music lately due to its 80s sound. With a name like Eternal Sunshine, she has to have some fun on this album, right?

Kyle Denis: No. In the same way that “Dangerous Woman” didn’t foreshadow an album of theatrical pop bangers and “No Tears” didn’t preview an LP filled with U.K. garage-inflected anthems, I don’t think “Yes, And?” is signaling a full dance pivot. Not to mention, Grande has dabbled with this sound before (2016’s “Be Alright”), so it isn’t exactly new for her. I think Eternal Sunshine will blend the best of her capabilities across pop and R&B like each of her last six efforts. Even though I’m not necessarily hoping for Eternal Sunshine to be a full dance record, I’ll gladly embrace it should that end up being the case.

Joe Lynch: Dance Ariana has always been one of my favorite Arianas (“Break Free” is GOAT) but the house-forward sound did surprise me a bit, simply because two major artists (Beyoncé and Drake) boosted that sound back to the wider public in 2022. I’m never angry at hearing house music, but it does seem like she’s following a trend on this one. So while I’d celebrate a dance LP, I’m hoping there are some sonic surprises afoot that push pop forward.   

Meghan Mahar: As much as I would personally love a full dance record, I don’t think that’s going to happen. Grande has had several dance and dance-adjacent tracks in the past: “Break Free” with Zedd (2014) and “Into You” (2016) came to mind when I heard “Yes, And?” and both came from albums with a solid range of sounds. The success of “Rain on Me” with Lady Gaga (another No. 1 debut) was likely a factor that informed the release of this song. I feel that “Yes, And?” foreshadows Grande referencing her past sounds and eras, but from a more mature place in her life.

Andrew Unterberger: It’s hard for me to see Grande going full club energy for a full album. Not that she couldn’t pull it off, but her truest sweet spot to me is still in the cozy confines of a soul-pop ballad or midtempo number, and I don’t think she’d want to limit herself strictly to the upper BPM ranges for all of Eternal Sunshine. I’m betting this song basically serves for its parent album as “No Tears Left to Cry” did for Sweetener: a blast to kick off her new era, which ultimately proves to forecast only a small bit of what the rest of the album has to offer.

4. The chart-topping debut for “Yes, And?” gives Max Martin his 24th No. 1 as a producer, moving him into sole possession of the all-time record. Do you think anyone will pass his mark anytime soon?

Rania Aniftos: Unless Mariah Carey enters a production-focused era of her career, I really doubt it. He’s dominating by a landslide among producers who are alive. 

Kyle Denis: I think this record is Max Martin’s to keep for a long while. Should Dr. Luke continue to find work despite his public fall from grace, it’s possible he will catch up to him. Nonetheless, I don’t think the producer who passes Max’s mark has gotten their start yet.

Joe Lynch: Well, I don’t think his runner-up (George Martin) is going to prove much competition in the 2020s, but Dr. Luke – who has produced or co-produced 18 No. 1s – could narrow the gap in the upcoming years. Even so, I think it’s pretty unlikely that anyone that he, or anyone, will take the lead from Max in the next five to 10 years.  

Meghan Mahar: No— the first runner up, Dr. Luke, is 6 songs behind Martin’s 24 No. 1 record and Martin is not showing any signs of slowing down. In recent times, it seems as if Dr. Luke has been working with a wider variety of artists, whereas Martin has committed more time to projects with a smaller roster. Martin’s strategy has paid off and aligned him with superstars and some of their best projects, like Taylor Swift’s 1989 (2014) and The Weeknd’s Dawn FM (2022). Securing this level of prestige takes a career lifetime to achieve.

Andrew Unterberger: It’s Martin’s to lose. You could look at someone like Jack Antonoff and think “Well, if he stays as Taylor Swift’s go-to guy for the rest of the decade, could that alone be enough to get him there?” But as ubiquitous as Antonoff has seemed for nearly a decade now, he still only has five No. 1s to his name — which means he’d need about three a year from now until 2030 to beat Martin’s current total. Not impossible, but the head start that Martin has amassed in his near-30-year career — and he ain’t done yet — is not a gap that anyone will be able to bridge without putting in decades of their own high-level work. And probably not then, either.

5. What’s one thing not really covered by “Yes, And?” that you’d like to hear or see from Ariana Grande on this new album and its accompanying promotional cycle?

Rania Aniftos: I don’t know if this necessarily answers the question, but I love how involved Jim Carrey was on The Weeknd’s Dawn FM, and since Eternal Sunshine got its name from Carrey’s 2004 film, it only makes sense for him to be on the album in some capacity. 

Kyle Denis: While “Yes, And?” is a great encapsulation of IDGAF energy, I’d like to hear more about what’s been going through Grande’s head ever since Positions. What has it been like filming your dream role (Glinda in Wicked)? How have you dealt with all the internal and external pressures that come with such an endeavor? In the past few years, it’s clear Grande has done a lot of growing up. From her wardrobe and general demeanor to her overall aesthetic and relationship with social media, she’s clearly matured a lot. And, of course, she went through a divorce in the public eye while juggling her music and acting careers; I’d love to see her dig into those concepts and emotions on Eternal Sunshine, which, judging by the title’s allusion to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, she just might do.

From a purely musical standpoint, I think I’m most intrigued to hear how Wicked has impacted her approach to singing and songwriting. Could another “Jason’s Song” be on the way? I certainly hope so!

Joe Lynch: I’m not saying I want to hear a dance remix of “Popular” on her album, but with the Wicked adaptations occupying so much of her recent time, I’m champing at the bit to see Grande in full-on theater kid mode as she hits the late-night promo cycle. (Shout-out to her performance in 2016’s Hairspray Live!) Do theater kids run the risk of being a bit irritating? Of course. But she’s practically a national icon. Let her hit. 

Meghan Mahar: I love how Grande has showcased her versatility across her discography, but my favorite songs are the R&B selects and ballads. Her vocal range emphasizes the passion behind her lyrics, whether they be about being deeply in love (“pov”) or in deep pain (“ghostin”). “Yes, And?” is such a fun, carefree track — and I love this! It makes me want to dance with my friends in the club — but I also love a good cry. Her musical vulnerability, paired with behind-the-scenes content or stunning visuals (like the “pov” Vevo performance) in the promo cycle, would further cement her range. 

Andrew Unterberger: Ariana Grande has spent most of her career making pop for the bedroom — would she ever consider going full bedroom pop? Would love to hear working with Girl in Red. A Laufey duet could be dope. And how the hell have she and Billie Eilish (an avowed longtime Grande fan) still never worked together?

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