I liked it as soon as I heard it when I got up this morning. Lady Gaga’s highly anticipated Chromatica drops next week and she and Ariana Grande over the last couple of days have been thirst-building hype for their new song, “Rain On Me”, the first collaboration between the two artists. This is a song about resilience and surviving trauma. As we know, both of these women have been through some f-cksh-t. Today is the third anniversary of the Manchester Arena bombing. So their connection is not just artistic but emotional.
And in a new interview with Zane Lowe for Apple Music, Gaga talks about their relationship and how they built their friendship. She describes how they worked together in studio, how she asked Ariana to let go of her performance comforts and get to a place where she could sing in a different way:
“And then I remember I said to her, "Okay, now everything that you care about while you sing, I want you to forget it and just sing. And by the way, while you're doing that, I'm going to dance in front of you," because we had this huge big window. I was like, "I'm going to dance in front of you." And she was like, "Oh my God. Oh my God, I can't, I can't. I don't know. Oh my God. Okay, okay." And then I did it and she sang, and she started to do things with her voice that was different. And it was the joy of two artists going, "I see you. And I see all the things that we all..." Humans do this. We create things that make us feel comfortable. We put them all around. I do it all the time. We all do things to make ourselves feel safe and I always challenge artists when I work with them. I go, "Make it unsafe, make it super f-cking unsafe and then do it again." And it was just awesome to watch her. You haven't seen the video yet, but she was so open to trying things that she hasn't done before. She was, "I'm going to just trust you." And it was this beautiful, I think very healing process for me top, not necessarily having a female artist that mentored me as I came up. And being able to be with her and hold her and be like, "Anything that you feel chains you, any pop cultural construct that you feel you have to live up to, I'd you to please forget about it and be yourself.”
What’s interesting is that while Gaga recounts how she encouraged Ariana to consider a different approach professionally as an artist, it was Ariana who broke through to Gaga on an emotional level. They understand each other through pain and they found each other with joy:
“That woman has been through some really tough, really hard life testing stuff, undoubtedly. And her ability to move on. When she came into the studio, I was still crying and she was not. And she was like, " You're going to be okay. Call me, here's my number." And she was so persistent. She would try over and over again to be friends with me. And I was too ashamed to hang out with her, because I didn't want to project all of this negativity onto something that was healing and so beautiful.
And eventually she called me on my sh-t. She was, "You're hiding." And I was, "I am hiding. I'm totally hiding." And then this friendship blossomed and this song Rain On Me, the lyrics that I wrote right here in this studio, "I'd rather be dry, but at least I'm alive. Rain on me." This is about an analog of tears being the rain. And you know what it's also a metaphor for, is the amount of drinking that I was doing to numb myself. I'd rather be dry. I'd rather not be drinking, but I haven't died yet. I'm still alive. Rain on me. Okay, I'm going to keep on drinking. This song has many layers.”
I like the idea of artists calling each other on their sh-t the way Gaga says Ariana called her on her sh-t. I wonder if it happens often enough.
Gaga, as we know, pushed back the release of Chromatica (originally April) because of the pandemic. The first song off the album, “Stupid Love”, came out at the end of February and perhaps it was the news cycle, all the cycles, really, being dominated by COVID-19, but I don’t know that it had the impact that it could have. That said, I think “Rain On Me” is a stronger song overall. And it’s now an appetiser for the rest of the album which Gaga is calling an album for people to dance through their troubles so the fact that it’s coming just before summer begins means that the hope is that it’s a summer soundtrack – dance beats to turn up in the club, aka your kitchen (because where else are you going right now?!). This weekend, then, it’s Gaga + Ariana. Next weekend…
Gaga + BLACKPINK!