Friday, May 4th, 2018

Ariana Grande – No Tears Left to Cry

With that score I would hope so…


Alex Clifton: I cried the first time I heard this, sobs so big and violent that I was glad I work from home so nobody could hear me. The Manchester attack shook me more than many other terrorist attacks, in part because I’ve always viewed pop music as a sacred space: when I’m listening to my favourite songs, nothing bad can ever happen to me, and I’m forever angry that thousands of people had that joy snatched away from them. I expected a sweeping, mournful ballad from Ariana as her comeback tune, and was delighted to get a dance number that stares hatred down in the face and refuses to give in. We’ve heard protest pop over the past year, but I can’t think of many, if any songs, this effervescent and fun and hopeful. I didn’t know mainstream pop could be this defiant, to be honest. It’s a brave and bold move, and I love it.

Nortey Dowuona: Powerful, massive hums, howls and coos introduce ferocious, heavy synth revs before the rumbling, fleeting drums and locked-in chord drops and popping synths that dribble over the edges.

Leonel Manzanares de la Rosa: There’s an unsettling vibe, a certain tension, in the harmonic foundations of the track that, combined with the garage beat, create such a harrowing atmosphere. If “No Tears Left to Cry” is supposed to be both grief and celebration, then the harmony is grief in celebration. It’s the source of the song’s incredible power. 

Stephen Eisermann: This song is a beautiful dream. Like a dream, the music is ethereal and fun and seems to adapt and change numerous times throughout. Like a dream, I can only understand about half of what is said, but it makes me smile and feel good. And, finally, like a dream, once it’s over I don’t really remember too much other than how much it made me smile. 

Alfred Soto: She’s going for the Kylie market that Kylie’s last album challenged, and I’d dance to it if I heard it, but the vocal performance on the chorus is too plummy for my taste — and Kylie’s.

Katherine St Asaph: A disco song half-submerged in pop-radio melancholy, the sort from “Disturbia,” “Say It Right,” and — particularly on the verses — the brooding synth chords from “Don’t Play It Safe.” But only half-submerged; it’s never quite joyous, never totally moody and charged, though the resulting tension does tilt it toward that end. I guess the “loving living” (no “laughing”?) bit is this single’s “become who I really are.”

Iain Mew: Not catchy at all, but enjoyably unusual and more than addictive enough to compensate. The big trick is being two different songs slipped into the space of one, like a much more seamless version one of those optical illusion pictures that become a duck or a rabbit or whatever from different angles. So one moment it’s an earthier version of Emeli Sandé beseeching breakbeat heaven, the next it’s a fun bit of f(x)-style slink, and Ariana sings it all with the conviction that she’s got enough emotions competing for space that it all makes sense together.

Jonathan Bogart: Rarely has a song about getting so stoned you can’t feel the pain anymore sounded so ecstatic.

Will Adams: How else to read, “Right now I’m in a state of mind I wanna be in all the time” set to descending chords and wistful, trance-y breaks? The chorus hangs over the song like a cloud, despite the verses managing to break through the haze with a funkier bent. It might not sound overtly liberating, but it’s fitting. Gone are the days of apocalypse pop; now it’s just dystopia, where there’s no foreseeable end in sight and you’re trying to love living when you know things just won’t be the same.

Cédric Le Merrer: You can’t dismiss the power of a story. I was getting bored with Ariana’s when this dropped, all caught up in my own about-to-be rebooted story, so self centered I didn’t even remember that terrible thing with the bomb at first. Who can keep track of all the bombs these days? After the totally expected “Good Girl Gone Bad” last episode I could have been expecting either a tropical party album or a terrible “authenticité” love à la Miley. Clearly I hadn’t been paying attention. How refreshing is it that this sounds like UK garage and not a bit like any other pop star right now? Who knew Ariana can also talk-sing? This is probably part of why this song feels to me not like any empty “we’ll keep on partying anyway” would be anthem. Rather, it packs a punch that reminds me of 120 BPM, a French film about Act Up in the ’90s which was also the only good response my sorry country has yet come up with post terror. Playing this song for the first fifty times is why I keep paying attention to pop music.

Reader average: [6.63] (41 votes)

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8 Responses to “Ariana Grande – No Tears Left to Cry”

  1. I don’t love this in the way other people do (I would have given it a [6] or [7]) but I’m happy to see it get this score anyway.

  2. Will Adams’ blurb is beautiful

  3. wish i had time to blurb this but i would’ve gave it an 8

  4. I second Ryo’s wish, happy to see TSJ look after Queen Ari and pay her necessary tribute tho (which is at the very least a [6] but better a [7])

  5. picking it up – picking it up – loving living picking it up — that part is amazing

  6. you guys are so fucking corny.

  7. oh shit hey jermaine

    sorry I gave you a [0] that one time

  8. I think it sounds like Rihanna’s “Disturbia” everytime I hear the chorus. Still a good song though.