I don’t usually publicize it, but Ariana Grande’s music has always been a guilty pleasure for me. My Everything and Dangerous Woman are my go-to albums for when I’m bored or have exhausted my playlists on a road trip, and while there’s not much to most of her songs beyond catchy pop hooks and slighty-suggestive romantic commentary, her sound always gets me dancing.
Lady Gaga is a whole different ball game. Edgy, experimental, and often weird to the point of making me uncomfortable, her songs either send me running or totally captivate me. I avoided her at all costs until I heard the 2013 song Applause, which paved the way for me to fall in love with quite of a few of the songs on her latest album, Chromatica.
The first time I heard Rain on Me, one of my friends played it for me with this preface: “It’s really weird, but I keep listening to it and I kinda like it. Except for one part that I really hate, I’ll tell you when it comes.” With that intro, I had low expectations. By the time it got the part my friend hated (when Lady Gaga chants “Rain. On. Me.” in her low-pitch robotic voice) my head was already bobbing and I was like “I actually kind of like that part.” (To which my friend responded, “Yeah I actually kind of like it too.”) By that evening, I had learned most of the lyrics and listened to it more times than I could count.
What is it about Rain on Me that was so alluring? It’s just another shallow Top 40 hit, right? There’s nothing in the sound that is that original juxtaposed with the rest of either of the artists’ songs… It’s got the quintessential build-up into the chorus, the sugary pop beat that’s hard not to like, the over-sized vocal range that few pop singers besides Ariana and Lady Gaga can actually pull off… so what was so different and fresh about it?
Certainly not the music video, from which my entire takeaway was:
Either Ariana forgot how to dance, or she couldn’t due to the legwarmers on her arms. Or maybe she was just too weighed down by her hair extensions.
Is this an intentional part of the dance routine? Or are they calling for help from a passing airplane?
But that’s beside the point. My music video commentary could be a whole other article on it’s own.
I think the weight of Rain on Me is in the lyrics, right from the get-go:
“At least I showed up, you showed me nothing at all / It’s coming down on me / Water like misery … I’m ready, rain on me”
How often do you get a bangin’ pop track with lyrics that are (1) depicting the singer in a position where they are completely defeated and heartbroken, and (2) welcoming the pain because they know it could be worse?
I’m going to venture a guess that Lady Gaga wrote WAYYY more of the lyrics than Ariana Grande, though they were both credited. Ariana’s strongsuit is high ponytails, not personal reflection.
But regardless of who wrote what lines, Rain on Me is the ultimate unique hype song. Some of the first (and most important) moves toward recovery are acknowledging your losses, coming to terms with your disappointment, and accepting that things aren’t great – but could always be worse.
“I’d rather be dry, but at least I’m alive” they sing before repeatedly welcoming the pain, asking it to “rain on me.” There aren’t many different lyrics, but something about the repetition of “rain on me” between the verses and even throughout the bridge gives this song a motivating, “you got this” vibe, almost like they are saying “is that all you got? Bring it on, I can handle anything.” And sometimes that is the mentality you need to put on to get you through difficult times.
Singing along to “I didn’t ask for the rainfall,” but “I’m ready, rain on me” is strangely empowering every time I listen to it. Come dark days, let-downs, mistreatment… you can get through anything with the right outlook. And isn’t that just the kind of message we need right now?
While the music video is as hot of a mess as it could be, this end shot is unbearably cute and almost redeems the sketchy aesthetic of the rest of the video:
And just for good measure, I’ll leave you with some food for thought.
Leave a comment if you agree, disagree, or want to see more of this kind of #unpopularopinion!
Until next week…