“RAIN. ON. ME,” declares Lady Gaga in the chorus of her new single, and the beat drops, ushering in a high-tempo mix of echoes and synths. From start to end, the new duet between pop powerhouses Lady Gaga and Ariana Grande, “Rain on Me,” is a wonderfully euphoric and triumphant anthem. In addition to having an earworm of a tune, the song also contains a heartfelt message, as both artists embrace and celebrate their pain.
“Rain On Me” is the second song Gaga has released from her new album Chromatica (2020), and the work of the musical duo arrives at a perfect time, when an acknowledgment of hurt—and gratitude—is needed. The pair also gifted audiences with an accompanying music video that perfectly captured the spirit of the song. Gaga and Grande have both known suffering, whether it be physical, mental, and emotional, and they use their past to forge on in “Rain on Me.”
Gaga’s first verse features her signature belt with only a simple beat as her background. She reveals the unfairness of her situations and the perseverance with which she faced them, nonetheless: “I never asked for the rainfall, / At least I showed up, you showed me nothing at all.” The opening shot of the video immediately encapsulates the defeat Gaga feels. The singer is flat on her back, sprawled on the ground, with scratches on her face and a knife in her thigh. Soon after, Gaga appears at a window. Her empty stare is piercing and unflinching, even as torrents of water cascade down her face.
“It’s coming down on me / Water like misery,” she sings almost desperately, as knives suddenly descend from the stormy sky and the beat becomes louder. Instead of giving up at the impending threat of the falling cutlery or her own agony, she announces, “I’m ready, rain on me.” Gaga slowly drags herself up, and change thrums in the air. The chorus starts, and a fiercely dancing Gaga, in her element and empowered, fills the screen as she stomps with impressively high-heeled boots. A cluster of backup dancers, similarly clad in pink and black skintight harnesses and bodysuits, infuse the video with energy as they pulse and move like a flawless extension of Gaga.
Her refusal to be pinned down is clear; even when she seems to be experiencing the worst, she actively feels her pain and gathers her strength: “I’d rather be dry, but at least I’m alive / Rain on me.” Synths pulse in the background, and Gaga launches into the charged chorus with a determined glint in her eye. The world of the video—and the song—then turns upside down to reveal Grande’s territory. The characteristic sweet, yet undoubtedly powerful, voice of Grande soon rises up against the pumping beat and stands as a harmonious complement to Gaga’s growl.
The visual artistry of the video only heightens as the song continues: Grande and her own entourage wear variations of striking black, silver, and purple corseted ensembles. However, Grande has the addition of wings, perhaps a subtle nod to the release date of May 22, the date of the terrorist attack of 2017 in Manchester, which claims a worker bee as one of its motifs. Lavender accents in her trademark ponytail and shiny black arm warmers add to the disco sci-fi atmosphere of the video. Grande’s effortless vocals shine as she advocates for honesty: “Gotta live my truth, not keep it bottled in / So I don’t lose my mind.” She joins Gaga in supporting the need for a good cry, one interpretation of the rain that the women face.
The rain also stands for more than just a good shedding of tears. Gaga has revealed that the rain is partially a symbol for her relationship with alcohol: “I’d rather be dry, but at least I’m alive.” Gaga alludes to an unhealthy consumption of alcohol during her lowest points and her yearning to, one day, perhaps embrace sobriety more fully than she can at present. Despite the upbeat tempo and infectious tune, the depth of the lyrics speaks to all sorts of obstacles the women face. The song boldly accepts hardships of all kinds, and the pumping beats act as support, encouraging listeners to dance as fearlessly and sing as freely as the pair of singers. The repetition of the lyric “rain on me” is a challenge to any knives, or real-world troubles, that fall from the sky.
The first collaboration between the two is undoubtedly a hit, as the voices of Gaga and Grande blend smoothly over quick percussive elements and rhythmic claps. While Gaga’s lower voice grounds the song, Grande floats, harmonizing and ad-libbing with her agile, breathy vocals. The most exuberant part of the duet comes in the latter half when the two appear in all new outfits and side by side. Dressed in bright pastels, donning eye-catching white eyeliner, and stomping in matching platform boots, Grande lets her voice soar to its highest point with the accelerating, pounding rhythm.
The background becomes softer during the bridge to allow the singers to emphasize the victory of surviving: “Hands up to the sky / I’ll be your galaxy / I’m about to fly.” However, the beat picks back up again with the final and most energetic iteration of the chorus, as the audience gets an aerial view of Grande and Gaga linking arms and skipping. The rain is just rain now, and they revel in the downpour, even anticipating it: “I hear the thunder comin’ down / Won’t you rain on me?”
As the public has been hearing the past few months, these are unprecedented times, but the Chromatica (2020) duet offers a bit of levity without belittling anything. The message is not one that dismisses problems, but rather it celebrates life with all its ups and downs. “Rain On Me” is the perfect song for dancing alone, with your quarantine partners, or over whatever form of video chat you like best. You may listen because of the instantly appealing chorus, healing power, entertaining advertising, or impressive vocals that the two never fail to serve, but at the bottom of it all, Gaga and Grande have managed to bring the sun indoors through a wonderful, musical storm of a song.