Friday 20 April 2018

New Music Friday 20/04

Look, I’ll be honest, I haven’t even bothered listening to anything else but Ariana today. Anne-Marie has an irksome song called 2002 that references a load of songs that in fact didn’t even come out that year. There’s a new Liam Payne track that’s probably rubbish. The Prince version of Nothing Compares 2 U can now be listened to whenever you like. And then there’s some other stuff…I guess…

Ariana Grande – No Tears Left To Cry

Ariana Grande – No Tears Left To Cry

This is weird. It’s slow and it’s fast. It’s yearning and soulful and gospel, yet skittish and upbeat. It flits from minor to major. The vocals soar and purr and rap. And which bit is the chorus?

All this written by Grande and Savan Kotecha, with production from Ilya Salmanzadeh and Max Martin – yes, the guy who said Lorde’s Green Light was “incorrect songwriting”.

Thing is, this weirdness is fitting for an artist whose 2017 Manchester concert was overshadowed by tragedy after a suicide bomber killed 22 of her fans. The song, like Grande, can’t be pinned down. “Ain’t got no tears left to cry,” she sings in a nod to the attack, “I’m lovin’, I’m livin’, I’m pickin’ it up.” It’s a bold anthem of hope: the perfect response, the perfect message to fans, the perfect pop song.

There are hints of Madonna’s Like A Prayer in the gospel opening, before it all erupts in a swirling, heady vortex of dance beats, synth stabs and R&B rhythms, all led by Grande’s voice that expertly traverses melodic and dynamic range. And that’s before the choir step in: celestial voices raised in harmonious defiance. There are so many details in this layered production, creative an addictive track that invites repeat listens.

Above all the musicality, though, is Grande’s voice – literal and metaphorical. This is a young popstar in her prime, delivering assured pop and a powerful statement. Expect this to be played all summer long.

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