×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Song Review: Ariana Grande’s ‘No Tears Left to Cry’

The track may have been prompted by the tragedy in Manchester last year, but it aims to not leave a wet eye in the house.

The sleek, carefree party jam of the spring… as inspired by the Manchester bombing of last spring? That’s not a contradictory notion, at least not in the intent behind Ariana Grande’s new “No Tears Left to Cry,” which premiered on digital music and video services at the stroke of Friday. The single was rumored to be an “emotional” response to the 2017 tragedy — and maybe it is, in a manner of thinking — but its real aim is to not leave a wet eye in the house.

There’s a fake-out at the beginning, as Grande starts the highly anticipated tune in ballad mode… following in tradition of Barbra Streisand and Donna Summer’s similarly titled oldie “No More Tears,” which segued from a potentially weepy intro into pure disco. Here, Grande spends all of 35 seconds in deceptively choral mode, before a mid-tempo dance beat kicks in to announce the real message: Salt water sucks.

The verses offer some slow-mo house-music synth triplets right out of the ‘80s over that beat. When the chorus kicks in, it’s divided between Grade lifting her voice, pleadingly, for positivity — “Oh, I just want you to come with me / We’re on another mentality” — before lowering it to nearly spoken-word mode for a rhythmically chanted “I’m lovin’, I’m livin’, I’m pickin’ it up.”

The track reunites Swedes Max Martin and Ilya, two of the writer-producers behind Grande’s previous “Problems,” now with Grande listed as co-writer (as she  is for the first time on all of the tracks from her upcoming full-length release, according to sources). It’s not likely to ever be inducted into the Max Martin Hall of Fame, but it does serve its purpose, as an enjoyable teaser in advance of an album that’s probably going to have some grander emotional moments. It announces that Grande is at once affected and not affected by last year’s bombing. If there’s an element of doth-protest-too-much to the tune’s determination to push past and move on, maybe that’s as it should be.

The music video (watch it below), which offers Dave Meyers an unusual directing credit right up front, is a combination of “Inception” and Fred Astaire’s old dancing-on-the-ceiling movie musical routine: Nighttime cityscapes spread out overhead and sideways as well as underfoot (romantically, not menacingly, as in the Christopher Nolan movie). Grande doesn’t quite dance upside down, but she does move up and down the walls of a skyscraper corridor, looking like she’s not quite sure whether to be in the mood for exhilaration or rumination.

“No Tears Left to Cry” hedges its bets by offering a little of both, as the breeziest, most danceable kind of post-traumatic recovery anthem with dark undertones. It works, on that modest I-will-survive level, although if Grande really wants to be seen as growing as an artist, it’ll probably be a good thing if at least one or two other tracks on her upcoming album convince us that she still has it in her… some vestigial crying, that is.

Song Review: Ariana Grande's 'No Tears Left to Cry'

More Music

  • FX's 'Snowfall' Panel TCA Winter Press

    John Singleton Hospitalized After Suffering Stroke

    UPDATED with statements from John Singleton’s family and FX Networks John Singleton, the Oscar nominated director and writer of “Boyz N’ the Hood,” has suffered a stroke. Sources confirm to Variety that Singleton checked himself into the hospital earlier this week after experiencing pain in his leg. The stroke has been characterized by doctors as [...]

  • Childish Gambino Concert Review

    Chance the Rapper Appears at Childish Gambino's Weekend Two Coachella Set

    Though Childish Gambino’s weekend two Coachella set didn’t vary too much from his electrifying first one, it did feature a new but familiar face. When Gambino popped backstage during a band feature, accompanied by the cameramen that made his set in part like watching a concert film on a massive screen, Grammy winning musician Chance [...]

  • Marketing Guru Sour Matt Brings Cannabis,

    A 4/20 Special: Sour Matt on Bringing Cannabis, Hip-Hop and Branding Together

    Sour Matt might be one of the most mysterious yet well-respected figures in the cannabis industry, as well as a growing force in the music business with which it intersects. With more than 100,000 followers on Instagram alone, he describes himself as “someone who likes to connect the dots, working with other creatives to build [...]

  • Jim Jarmusch in 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    Film Review: 'Carmine Street Guitars'

    “Carmine Street Guitars” is a one-of-a-kind documentary that exudes a gentle, homespun magic. It’s a no-fuss, 80-minute-long portrait of Rick Kelly, who builds and sells custom guitars out of a modest storefront on Carmine Street in New York’s Greenwich Village, and the film touches on obsessions that have been popping up, like fragrant weeds, in [...]

  • Will SmithNickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards, Show,

    Will Smith Joins Jaden to Perform 'Icon' at Coachella

    Parents just do understand the importance of Coachella. Jaden Smith was joined in the Sahara tent Friday night by father Will for a performance of “Icon” — as Instagrammed by the proud papa. The footage of Will Smith rapping was shot by Jaden, who turns his smartphone camera around just long enough to photobomb his [...]

  • Anderson .Paak performs at the Coachella

    Brandy, Jay Rock Help Anderson .Paak Light Up Coachella Weekend Two

    Anderson .Paak & the Free Nationals took the Coachella stage at the second weekend of the storied fest as the sun descended, but the musician’s fiery set was more than enough to light up the audience. The performance, which featured pyrotechnics including fireworks and flames alongside the rapper’s slinky stage moves, was relatively heavy on [...]

  • Woodstock 50 Festival Postpones Ticket On-Sale

    Woodstock 50 Festival Postpones Ticket On-Sale Date

    UPDATED: The troubled Woodstock 50 festival has run into more difficulties, as multiple sources told Variety late Friday that the April 22 on-sale date for the event has been postponed. Agents for artists scheduled to perform at the festival — which include Jay-Z, Dead & Company, Chance the Rapper, Miley Cyrus, Imagine Dragons and Halsey [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content