Lady Gaga featuring Ariana Grande – Rain on Me

TRACK REVIEW: Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande’s new collaboration is buckets of fun – but could have been more.

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.

'Rain on Me' single cover. Via Interscope Records.
'Chromatica' cover art. Via Interscope Records.

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.

'Rain on Me' single cover. Via Interscope Records.

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.

Lady Gaga. Via Chuff Media.

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.

101 Top Tracks: 2019

PLAYLIST: These are my picks for the 101 Top Tracks of 2019. Yes, I know it’s April 2020. Thank you. Shh.

PLAYLIST: These are my picks for the 101 Top Tracks of 2019. Yes, I know it's April 2020. Thank you. Shh.

At the end of every year, I curate a list of my personal picks for the 101 Top Tracks of the year.  Obviously, we are halfway through 2020, so it makes no sense to publish that list now, but I am doing it anyway.  The world is in chaos, and everyone needs good music.

Not every artist on this playlist is a member of the LGBTQIA+ family (although many are), this is just a list of 101 damn good songs to hopefully cheer you up in the coming days.

If you really feel like going back to ancient history, check out this list of recommended tracks from 2018 as well.

Andrew Henderson’s 101 Top Tracks of 2019:

  1. OH DANG DANG – Kopps Non-album single
  2. Get Around It – Midi Matilda Non-album single
  3. I Don’t Wanna Know – Charli XCX Charli
  4. Gimme – BANKS III
  5. fallen alien – FKA Twigs MAGDALENE
  6. Gone – TR/ST The Destroyer Vol. 1
  7. Jerome – Lizzo Cuz I Love You
  8. The One – Betty Who Betty
  9. Picture Me Better – Weyes Blood Titanic Rising
  10. Orange Trees – MARINA Love + Fear
  11. 800 db cloud – 100 gecs 1000 gecs
  12. Rich, White, Straight Men – Kesha Non-album single
  13. Queen of the Rodeo – Orville Peck Pony
  14. Blood of the Fang – clipping. There Existed an Addiction to Blood
  15. Borderline – Florrie Non-album single
  16. bad idea – Ariana Grande thank u, next
  17. Pang – Caroline Polachek Pang
  18. Talk – Two Door Cinema Club False Alarm
  19. Play – Betta Lemme Non-album single
  20. Love Goes On – Hannah Diamond Reflections
  21. Slide Away – Miley Cyrus Non-album single
  22. Borderline – Tame Impala The Slow Rush
  23. Hit the Back – King Princess Cheap Queen
  24. Lightning – Bag Raiders feat. The Kite String Tangle Horizons 
  25. Taste – Donatachi feat. Genes Taste
  26. Do Me – Kim Petras Clarity
  27. Devil is a Lie – Adia Victoria Silences
  28. Adam & Steve – Dorian Electra Flamboyant
  29. New Love Cassette – Angel Olsen All Mirrors
  30. Everything He Needs – Carly Rae Jepsen Dedicated
  31. Love Me Wrong – Allie X feat. Troye Sivan Cape God
  32. The Other Side – Drab Majesty Modern Mirror
  33. Concrete Angel – Hannah Diamond Reflections
  34. Dear Jealousy – MIKA My Name is Michael Holbrook
  35. money machine – 100 gecs 1000 gecs
  36. What Are We Going to Do About the Rich? – Pet Shop Boys Agenda
  37. Old Town Road (Remix) – Lil Nas X, Billy Ray Cyrus 7
  38. Serbia Drums – !!! Wallop
  39. WET – COBRAH Icon
  40. sad day – FKA Twigs MAGDALENE
  41. BITE ME – Kilo Kish Redux
  42. Downhill Lullaby – Sky Ferreira Non-album single
  43. Divine Goldmine – Lou Asril Louasril
  44. Tuesday – Malibu Ken Malibu Ken
  45. Click (No Boys Remix) – Charli XCX feat. Kim Petras & Slayyyter Non-album single
  46. I Want to Live with You – Alex Lahey The Best Luck Club
  47. Sympathy – Vampire Weekend Father of the Bride
  48. Heavenly – Cigarettes After Sex Cry
  49. Prophet – King Princess Cheap Queen
  50. Norman fucking Rockwell – Lana Del Rey Norman Fucking Rockwell!
  51. Sanremo – MIKA My Name is Michael Holbrook
  52. Juice – Lizzo Cuz I Love You
  53. Parachute – Caroline Polachek Pang
  54. Whiplash – Theophilus London feat. Tame Impala Bebey
  55. Want You in My Room – Carly Rae Jepsen Dedicated
  56. Lifeline – A.G. Cook Non-album single
  57. Enjoy Your Life – MARINA Love + Fear
  58. White Mercedes – Charli XCX Charli
  59. Movies – Weyes Blood Titanic Rising
  60. Obsession – Joywave Possession
  61. Goodbye Honeymoon Phase – Kitten Goodbye Honeymoon Phase
  62. God Must Be Doing Cocaine – Charlotte Lawrence Non-album single
  63. 626 Bedford Avenue – The Drums Brutalism
  64. Black Magic – Backxwash God Has Nothing to Do With This, Leave Him Out of It
  65. Ice Cream – MIKA My name is Michael Holbrook
  66. Bad Vibes – K.Flay Solutions
  67. when the party’s over – Billie Eilish WHEN WE ALL FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?
  68. So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings – Caroline Polachek Pang
  69. Psycho – slowthai, Denzel Curry Non-album single
  70. STFU! – Rina Sawayama SAWAYAMA
  71. Patience – Tame Impala Non-album single
  72. stupid horse – 100 gecs 1000 gecs
  73. Cross You Out – Charli XCX feat. Sky Ferierra Charli
  74. Fuck it I love you – Lana Del Rey Norman Fucking Rockwell!
  75. High Beams – Flume feat. HWLS & slowthai Hi This is Flume
  76. Haunted House – Sir Babygirl Crush on Me
  77. Friday’s No Fun Anymore – Kitten Goodbye Honeymoon Phase
  78. Julien – Carly Rae Jepsen Dedicated
  79. Tokyo – White Lies Five V2
  80. Unconditional – Touch Sensitive feat. Kitten Non-album single
  81. Fresh Laundry – Allie X Cape God
  82. Sea at Night – GFOTY If You Think I’m a Bitch, You Should Meet GFOTY
  83. Pretty Please – Allan Rayman Christian
  84. Boy – The Asteroids Galaxy Tour Non-album Single
  85. Hope to Die – Orville Peck Pony
  86. PrettyGirlz – WILLOW WILLOW
  87. Caroline Shut Up – Caroline Polachek Pang
  88. Young Republicans – Lower Dens The Competition
  89. Flamboyant – Dorian Electra Flamboyant
  90. Like a Kennedy – Joywave Possession
  91. mary magdalene – FKA Twigs MAGDALENE
  92. 2099 – Charli XCX feat. Troye Sivan Charli
  93. Harmony Hall – Vampire Weekend Father of the Bride
  94. The greatest – Lana Del Rey Norman Fucking Rockwell!
  95. Don’t Be So Hard on Yourself – Alex Lahey The Best Luck Club
  96. fReAkY 4 Life – Dorian Electra Flamboyant
  97. cellophane – FKA Twigs MAGDALENE
  98. Door – Caroline Polachek Pang
  99. Jailbreak the Tesla – Injury Reserve feat. Aminé Injury Reserve
  100. All Mirrors – Angel Olsen All Mirrors
  101. Gone – Charli XCX feat. Christine and The Queens Charli
Cover: FKA Twigs from the 'Cellophane' music video. Design by Andrew Henderson.

After listening to my list, be sure to pop on down to the comments and let me know what your favorite songs of 2019 were.  What did I miss on this list?  What did I include that I shouldn’t have?