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    January 12, 2024

Pop’s Teflon princess is improvising her way out of a scandalous press cycle.

January is where major films go to flop. Pop stars are a different story: After years dominated by Miley Cyrus’ “Flowers” (January 12), The Weeknd’s Dawn FM (January 7), and Olivia Rodrigo’s “Drivers License” (January 8), it feels like anything could happen this week. Nobody needs the narrative shift more than Ariana Grande, whose on-set romance with Wicked costar Ethan Slater is the headline that just keeps headlining. But she theater-catchphrased herself out of a sticky tabloid situation once before, so why not go for an encore? The chipper new single “yes, and?” cribs the golden rule of improv for a lightweight dance shuffle with a few barbed words for the critics, culminating in the line, “Why do you care so much whose ! I ride?” The critics, depicted in the video as a bunch of frumpy whiners, are all predictably won over by the end. Close your eyes, tap your heels together three times, and repeat Madonna’s ad-lib from the top of “Vogue”: What are you lookin’ at?