If there was one person who embodied everything you want your musical icon to be in 2017, it was Ariana Grande. After the horrific events at her show in Manchester last May, where 23 people were killed by a homemade bomb in a terror attack, she acted with grace and compassion: meeting the victims families and returning for the One Love Manchester concert to raise funds. Ariana returned to her tour (only missing a handful of shows), even though nobody would blame here if she wanted to take more time off; now, less than a year on, she’s released ‘No Tears Left To Cry’, Ariana’s first piece of new music since the tragedy.
“Right now, I’m in a state of mind/I wanna be in like all the time,” Ariana asserts confidently in the song’s opening. Optimistic and effervescent, ‘No Tears Left To Cry’ is four minutes of euphoria. Beginning with stripped back chorale, Ariana almost tricks you into thinking this could be a weepy ballad; but nah, a disco beat soon kicks in, and subtle house rhythms and an accompanying gospel choir float under Ariana’s powerhouse voice. Juxtaposing the spoken refrain (“Pickin’ it up, pickin’ it up/Lovin’, I’m livin’, so we turnin’ up“) and her trademark vocal licks, we’re left with song that you’re probably going to be hearing all summer.
Throughout, Ariana alludes to last year’s attack. Lyrically she calls on fans to embrace the positivity and love, and to not give into fear: “We’re way too fly to partake in all this hate/We out here vibin’”, whilst in the Dave Meyers-directed video the last thing you see is Manchester’s symbol of a worker bee flying towards the camera, in a touching tribute to the city.
Tackling hate and devastation with hope and disco, ‘No Tears Left To Cry’ is a triumph.