45s of the week: Ariana Grande, Sailor Honeymoon, NIKI and more!

New year, new drops. It's the tracks you need to hear this week, reviewed by Rhian Daly


Ariana Grande – ‘yes, and?’

Life is fickle. Sometimes, you’re everybody’s favourite pop star on the planet, and sometimes, you’re pop’s public enemy number one (or, at the very least, in the top 10). It’s a flip that Ariana Grande’s experienced in recent months, thanks to heated speculation about her latest romance, but, on her big comeback single ‘yes, and?’, she sounds completely unfazed. “Now I’m so done with caring / What you think, no I won’t hide,” she sings in the most laissez-faire tone possible. “Underneath your own projections / Or change my most authentic life.” It’s a dazzling, defiant return – if defiance can sound this unperturbed. 

Sailor Honeymoon – ‘Bad Apple’ 

What do you do when you realise a friend isn’t who you thought they were and might, in fact, be a bit prejudiced? Korean punk trio Sailor Honeymoon have some advice on their new single: show them the door. “Don’t let one spoil the bunch / You’re a bad apple, I’ve got a hunch,” they chant on this bitesize banger, before a thorny, guitar-led breakdown casts sonic barbed wire around the band in a bid to keep bigots out.

NIKI – ‘24’

Days before she turns 25, singer-songwriter NIKI has shared her reflections on her 24th year – and her early twenties in general. Inspired by Joni Mitchell’s performance of ‘Both Sides Now’ at the 2022 Newport Folk Festival, ’24’ is a song that fits neatly alongside that track, its shimmering strings and reverberating percussion elevating its atmosphere from intimate to expansive. “I know more than I ever have / And yet nothing at all,” NIKI sings as the track nears its end, summing up the divided nature of being firmly in early adulthood, but still figuring out the world. 

@thefortyfive @NIKI just dropped her first track in a year. Here's our first listen review #niki #nikizefanya #24 #newmusic #trackreview #88rising ♬ 24 – NIKI

Akini Jing – ‘Villain (feat. TeeZandos)’ 

Akini Jing blends unlikely worlds on ‘Villain’, the title track from her latest album. The Chinese singer-songwriter mines the martial arts genre of ‘Wuxia’ on the record and, here, marries it with twinkling piano, intoxicating melodies in both the swooping chorus and lightly bouncing verses, and a piercing guest spot from UK drill star TeeZandos. It’s a mix that most might not think to bring together, but Akini Jing makes sound effortlessly natural.     

Erika de Casier – ‘Lucky’

Over the last few years, 4AD’s Erika de Casier slowly bubbled up from cult concern to one of the pop world’s new favourite stars. She’s remixed Dua Lipa, worked with Blood Orange and Shygirl, and penned some of NewJeans’ best songs – but now she’s putting the spotlight back on her and her alone. ‘Lucky’, the first single from her upcoming third album ‘Still’, crumples up a tumbling, ticking beat and pairs it with dreamy, hopeful melodies and vocals that feel like an invitation to join de Casier on cloud nine. 

Listen to these and more top drops from the week just gone on our BRAND NEW playlist.