Ignore the haters. Be who you want to be. Do what you want to do.
That’s Ariana Grande’s advice in her new single, “Yes, And?”
This track, the lead single from her forthcoming album Eternal Sunshine, has been out for less than a week and it’s already sitting at No. 1 on YouTube with more than 20 million views. That’s not uncommon for Grande, who has over 53 million subscribers on YouTube and 308 million followers on Instagram.
That’s a lot. And with this song, Grande is reaching all those people with a message that has all the hallmarks of a pop anthem: Do what you want–no matter what it is–and be your most authentic selves regardless of criticism.
Because that’s what’s most important, she says.
There’s a bit of positivity here in that Grande believes it’s best to keep pushing forward, despite negative commentary (“And if you find yourself in a dark situation/Just turn on your light…”).
Grande also doesn’t appreciate people making comments about her body, and she says as much: “Don’t comment on my body, do not reply/Your business is yours and mine is mine”).
The message Grande is putting forth is one steeped in sarcasm. She tells her fans to shoot back an aggressive and profane response anytime they don’t like what they hear: “Yes, and?/Say that s— with your chest, and/Be your own f—in’ best friend”.
This goes for women and men alike, no matter their preferences–particularly their sexual ones. (“Boy, come on, put your lipstick on (no one can tell you nothin’)/Come on and walk this way through the fire [Don’t care what’s on their mind”]).
Grande tells listeners to not care at all about anything negative that anyone has to say, and that’s just not wise advice, especially if that “negative” advice can help one to grow.
Still, Grande stands behind this belief, especially for herself as she says she’s “so done with caring” what others think. She refuses to “hide/Underneath your own projections/Or change my most authentic life”.
Ultimately, she will say what she wants to say (“My tongue is sacred, I speak what I like”), protect herself and her space (“protected, sexy, discerning with my time/Your energy is yours and mine is mine”) and be intimate with whomever she should choose. And, of course, the song is filled with profanities.
In the video for this track, male backup dancers dress in an effeminate fashion and women wear revealing clothes, including crop tops, body suits and short skirts. One man says, “oh my god.”
It’s impossible to ignore the fact that this song has been released following Ariana’s recent relationship with her Wicked costar Ethan Slater, a relationship that has fans calling Grande a “homewrecker” as Slater is now divorced.
I can’t say whether or not this song is about Grande casting off comments she doesn’t want to hear despite her life choices.
But I can say that a song, albeit catchy, that profanely promotes all forms of self-expression (especially for men, as highlighted in the song) and “you doing you” no matter what, isn’t great advice. And it certainly isn’t Biblical.
Is it good to ignore useless, hateful speech? Absolutely? Is it good to mind your own business? Again, yes.
But casting off all commentary just because you don’t want to hear what others have to say? That’s teaching an entire generation, which follows Grande, that their opinion and their desires are the most important. Above all else.
And that sounds like hedonism to me.
Kristin Smith joined the Plugged In team in 2017. Formerly a Spanish and English teacher, Kristin loves reading literature and eating authentic Mexican tacos. She and her husband, Eddy, love raising their children Judah and Selah. Kristin also has a deep affection for coffee, music, her dog (Cali) and cat (Aslan).