Ariana Grande‘s first new music offering in 2018 is certainly an interesting choice to lead her upcoming fourth album with.
A mere few days after the single’s release date was announced, Ariana has triumphantly shared the emotional No Tears Left to Cry at the same time as its gorgeous Dave Meyers directed music video (apparently taking a leaf out of K-pop’s book of rapid release schedules).
No Tears Left to Cry is Ariana‘s first proper artistic response to the Manchester tragedy. While the hype pieces declaring that early listens of No Tears Left to Cry had supposedly left people “hysterically crying” feel a tad sensationalist now, No Tears Left to Cry is no doubt a stirring song given the context. However, the buzz around No Tears Left to Cry seems to be more about that context, and what the song represents, than on the actual quality of No Tears Left to Cry‘s production itself.
With its airy pad synths offset with a few jerky chords laid on top of a 1999-esque pop beat, No Tears Left to Cry is sonically bare but quite gorgeous. Plus, the lyrics to No Tears Left to Cry will definitely make for some perfect Instagram captions (to be expected from Instagram’s second most followed account) and are delivered with Ariana‘s signature, if not a little restrained, angelic harmonies. Although No Tears Left to Cry attempts to sound dynamic with its groove, what that sound lacks in overt energy is made up for with the poignant lyrics (which Ariana wrote) and overall uplifting vibe; think of it as Be Alright‘s quirkier sister.
From the dingy, fiery rock sounds of Dangerous Woman to the whisper-chant of Problem‘s buck the trend 808 drop, Ariana Grande‘s lead singles have never been traditional but they have always had an irresistible charm and iconic draw; The Way had those mesmerizing whistle notes, while even the lead-turned-buzz single Focus had its polarizing Jamie Foxx chorus.
Like those, No Tears Left to Cry also stands out too, but not exactly in a good way. No Tears Left to Cry falls a bit flat when compared to the massive amounts of energy Ariana‘s previous leads have all sonically radiated with. No Tears Left to Cry‘s production seems to be lacking… something.
There’s no eruption of entrancing electric guitars and powerhouse vocals.
There’s no insatiably catchy sax hook.
There’s not even a polarizing Jamie Foxx chorus.
The mighty a capella intro of No Tears Left to Cry proves that it had a lot of potential to be a major anthem, but ultimately No Tears Left to Cry‘s sound lacks that oomph! factor all of Ariana‘s previous lead singles have punched through with. Max Martin‘s production is surprisingly sparse in nature and is not the typically catchy, glossy material you’d expect from his addictive production (or even from Ariana herself). At some intervals, No Tears Left to Cry doesn’t even sound finished. Does that bare-bones, almost empty production effectively make this the riskiest lead single yet from one of the world’s biggest pop stars?
Of course, art is supposed to have substance and conjure up emotion: No Tears Left to Cry is a roaring success in that aspect. I only wish that power in its message had also shone through in the song’s production and melodies too, in the same way that it does in something like One Last Time, or even Break Free. No Tears Left to Cry is a triumphant return for sure – it just doesn’t sonically sound like one.
Anyway, now that we’ve got all the crying out of the way… I think we’re ALL ready for Ariana to absolutely nail it with a grand(e) Into You-levels-of-greatness banger.