This list of songs is inspired by lists published by radio station KEXP-FM from Seattle in 2010, as well as the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part I will faithfully countdown from their lists, starting at Song #500 and going until I reach Song #1. When you see the song title listed as something like: Song #XXX (KEXP)….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. Song XXX (RS) means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: Song #xxx (KTOM), it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In any case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, just so everyone is aware, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Here is the story behind today’s song. Enjoy.
KTOM: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #99: No Tears (Left To Cry) by Ariana Grande.
Today’s song comes from Sophie’s list of Top Ten favourites. Ariana Grande is her favourite singer so, it should come as no surprise that another one of her songs has made the list. “No Tears (Left To Cry)” is a special song in the history of Grande’s career and is one that Sophie and her sister, Leah, both like (which is noteworthy because they don’t often tend to like the exact same song). So, here is the story of “No Tears (Left To Cry)” by Ariana Grande and why it is so special to Sophie.
As we have discussed on previous posts, Ariana Grande was involved in one of the most tragic music events in recent memory, which was the suicide bombing that killed 22 people at a concert of hers in Manchester, England. Sometimes we forget that those people we call celebrities are still, despite their fame and fortune, real people with real emotions, too. For Grande, that original Manchester concert was a chance for her to prove herself in one of the UK’s top cities for music. Being there filled her with a level of excitement that caused that concert to rise a bit above the norm for a show of hers. When the bombing happened, the first reaction she felt was confusion and then fear, followed quickly by immense guilt. Obviously, the deaths of 22 people by way of a suicide bomber was in no way Ariana Grande’s fault……and, nobody in the crowd or the music press blamed her, either…..but, she knew that, if not for her wanting to perform that night, none of those who died would have been there. So, understandably, Ariana Grande blamed herself for what had happened. Consequently, her first personal decision arising out of this tragedy was that she was going to stop performing. Never again would she allow herself to be responsible for “luring innocents” into a venue where they might get hurt.
We all react differently when tragedy strikes. While Ariana Grande was overwhelmed with guilt, others rushed to her side and encouraged her to rally against the Hate that had claimed so many lives. Chris Martin, lead singer of Coldplay and Liam Gallagher, lead singer from Oasis, both agreed to stand by her side and help her to sing again in Manchester so as to show the world that Love trumps Hate. With a lot of encouragement from a lot of other people as well, Ariana Grande came to feel strong enough to organize the “One-Love: Manchester” benefit concert. She, and the other organizers, felt it was important to get back on stage as quickly as possible in order to conquer any fear that may arise from gathering together in large numbers in a public space. The concert was televised around the world and was a huge success. The song, “No Tears (left to Cry)” was Grande’s musical response to the situation she found herself in. It was written, specifically, as a message for the world that she had shed her last tear and was determined to stand on that Manchester stage and sing again.
The song, “No Tears (Left To Cry)” is styled upon another song of female empowerment….Gloria Gaynor’s, “I Will Survive”. Both songs start out slowly, as the lyrics describe the problem each woman had to overcome. But then, mid-way through, both songs kick into a higher gear as Gaynor/Grande make their public vow to be stronger and more powerful and to vanquish their fears. The song became a #1 hit for Ariana Grande. The official video for the song won the award in 2018 for Best Music Video at the MTV Video Awards.
When I asked Sophie about why she liked the song so much, she responded that she liked the beat of the song and the message of it. She and Leah both are drawn to female role models. In Ariana Grande, they both see someone that they have watched on TV (on the teen shows, “Victorious” and “Sam and Cat”) and now, in music videos for #1 songs. Ariana Grande has been a presence in their lives for as long as they can remember so, when she went through the initial crisis of the bombing in Manchester, they felt it, too, in a way. To see “Ari”, as Sophie calls her, rebound in such a strong manner, encourages them, both. She is tiny (like they feel they both are) but, she is mighty, too. So, every time “No Tears (Left To Cry)” gets an airing in our home, both girls feel good about the song and the singer and what the song means in the larger context of Life.
Ariana Grande behaved in a heroic fashion; in that, she overcame adversity and triumphed over her fear. Celebrities do that sometimes. So do ordinary folks, like you and me and Sophie, too. Life is awesome much of the time but, for those moments when things go awry, it is helpful to have friends to help us and a good song to sing in order to help us screw up our courage. Some days, taking that one, single step forward is the bravest act of all.
Here is Ariana Grande with her song about the Manchester bombing, “No Tears (Left To Cry)”. Thanks, as always, to Sophie for her great taste in music and in role models.
The link to the video for the song, “No Tears (Left To Cry) by Ariana Grande, can be found here.
The link to the official website for Ariana Grande, can be found here.