TRACK REVIEW: Lady Gaga & Ariana Grande's new collaboration is lots of fun - but could have been more.
All the way back in February (which feels like literal years ago), Lady Gaga released the lead single for her upcoming album Chromatica. That song, ‘Stupid Love’, received mixed reactions upon its release – reactions that were further complicated by the sudden COVID-19 lockdown resulting in a delay in the release of the rest of the album. Indeed, Chromatica was originally slated for release back in April, before being pushed back to next Friday, the 29th of May.
In anticipation of that release, Gaga has dropped a new, second promotional single – ‘Rain on Me’, a collaboration with Ariana Grande. As soon as the collaboration was announced, many fans started speculating about the stylistic direction of the track. Gaga’s industrial dance pop style seemed like an odd match for Ariana’s much more R&B-influenced take on pop music. Interestingly, the song is a significant stylistic departure for both artists, eschewing the previously mentioned styles in favor of a disco-inspired house beat.
While the song doesn’t reach the heights of what either of these artists have achieved in the past, the song is just so much fucking fun. There is nothing particularly edgy or interesting going on here, but Gaga and Ariana take this genre and run with it, creating a song that is more upbeat and toe-tappingly bubbly than pretty much anything else released this year. It is easy to imagine it being a big success in gay bars and pride festivals once we’re allowed to have those things again.
Where the song really falters, though, is with its lyrics. Thematically, the track has an interesting overall premise of giving in to one’s negative emotions in order to stay alive. To have an upbeat dance song that deals with a heavy theme like that is a fascinating proposition – and one that would have a unique poignancy in the LGBTQIA+ community, which often finds solace for loneliness, fear and loss in the accepting comfort of gay bars and dance clubs.
Unfortunately, the actual execution of these lyrics leaves a lot to be desired. Lines like ‘Hands up to the sky / I’ll be your galaxy / I’m about to fly / rain on me / tsunami’ are… unfortunate. Such deep and emotional ideas deserve a more artful expression than this song gives them. Certainly, a higher level of commitment to the ideals of the track would have gone a long way in giving the entire thing a sense of importance that it currently lacks.
Still, it would be unfair to just write off ‘Rain on Me’ as a catchy but empty dance pop song. There is little doubt that these lyrics – slight as they may be – will resonate with many of Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande’s queer fans. And it’s a rare thing to find catharsis that is this supremely catchy.
‘Rain on Me’ and ‘Stupid Love’ are out now, Chromatica arrives 5/29/2020.