There has been much interpretation and reading between-the-lines of Ariana Grande’s new single ‘No Tears Left To Cry’. The media have dubbed the song a “tribute to her fans” or a “comeback” after the terrorist attack at the Manchester Arena last year, which saw fans and their families killed and injured, after Grande had left the stage.
Both interpretations equally cheapen Grande’s art. Like all art its layers are complex and deep, and contain a whole spectrum of colours. It is never one thing but many. And anyone who listens to music, whether it be Grande’s or Elvis’, will know this.
Ask someone to write a love song and it will not be about a lover or an ex-lover, it will be about them both but also about neither. It will be about every feeling you have ever felt when you were in love, imaginary or real. It will be about every relationship you have seen firsthand, read about, or listened to. I could go on and on but what I am attempting to say is this; we do not exist in a vacuum and neither does the art we make.
“You are the books you read, the films you watch, the music you listen to, the people you meet, the dreams you have, and the conversations you engage in. You are what you take from these. You are the sound of the ocean, breath of the fresh air, the brightest light and the darkest corner. You are a collective of every experience you have had in your life. You are every single second of every day. – Jac Vanek
‘No Tears Left To Cry’ is devoid of any anger or hate, which isn’t to say there’s no passion but it feels very much above all of that. The song straddles trance-like sounds and EDM, moving away from the R’n’B territory of Dangerous Woman.
The song makes you feel good with its mellow and smooth ambience, the words providing their own rhythm, making your body to move to the beat. The chorus opens the song, soaring above you, and with the words becoming more and more ingrained in you after each passing listen, can’t help but lift you emotionally, leaving you feeling light and free.
Oh I just want you to come with me
We’re on another mentality
Ain’t got no tears left to cry (so don’t cry)
So I’m pickin’ it up, I’m pickin’ up (oh yeah)
I’m lovin’, I’m livin’, I’m pickin’ it up
The refrain is the only “fuck you” in the entire song but it is done with assertiveness not bitterness. There is a finality to it. Grande is drawing her own line in the sand, and pity the unfortunate person who chooses to cross it.
Comin’ out, even when it’s rainin’ down
Can’t stop now, can’t stop so shut your mouth
Shut your mouth, and if you don’t know then now you know it, babe
Know it baby, yeah
The music video that accompanies the single sees Grande in an Escher inspired world, thereby reinforcing the feeling of being detached from the drama and the old way of being, to Grande seeing the world and her place in it with new eyes.
The age old saying, “my world has been turned upside down”is normally used in the pejorative sense but in Grande’s case, her literal world is upside down – she is walking on ceilings in ball gowns, hanging upside down from staircases and falling through walls into glittery spider webs – but instead of fighting against it, or being suffocated by the darkness and instability, she is moving to the rhythm of her new perspective. In her own words,
Ain’t got no tears in my body
I ran out, but boy, I like it, I like it, I like it
Don’t matter how, what, where, who tries it
We’re out here vibin’, we vibin’, we vibin’