Lady Gaga had just dropped what is sure to be the song of the summer, “Rain on Me,” an irresistibly earwormy ‘90s throwback featuring Ariana Grande. The house music banger’s new music video, which premiered Friday morning, features the two pop-queen warriors reigning over an anime rave on the fantastic planet Chromatica, in a dazzling display of cyberpunk girl power.
But surprisingly, Gaga, whose Chromatica album drops next week, confessed in a recent interview with Apple Music’s Beats 1 host Zane Lowe that she was initially “ashamed” to pursue a friendship with Grande — and that this dynamite duet would have never happened if Grande hadn’t pursued and encouraged her.
Gaga revealed that she initially pushed Grande away because she was worried that she would be a bad influence on her younger peer — who was coping with the trauma from the 2017 bombing at her Manchester concert and the 2018 overdose death of her ex-boyfriend, Mac Miller.
“[Grande] was so persistent. She would try over and over again to be friends with me,” Gaga told Lowe. “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.” But, Gaga explained, “eventually she called me on my s***. She [said], ‘You’re hiding.’ And I was, ‘I am hiding. I’m totally hiding.’ And then this friendship blossomed.”
After that conversation, that very night an inspired Gaga wrote “Rain on Me” — a song that she said “has many layers” and is “a metaphor for the amount of drinking that I was doing to numb myself” while dealing with her own trauma (including the aftermath of a sexual assault by an unnamed music producer, which will be the topic of another Chromatica track, “Free Woman”).
Gaga said the “true partnership” she and Grande forged while recording “Rain on Me” and shooting its music video was crucial to her own healing process. “She was so open to trying things that she hasn’t done before. She was, ‘I’m going to just trust you.’ … [I did] not necessarily [have] 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 like you to please forget about it and be yourself.’ That woman has been through some really tough, really hard life-testing stuff, undoubtedly, and her ability to move on. … It was the joy of two artists going, ‘I see you.'”
Celebrating the Thursday evening release of the “Rain on Me” track and the Friday morning premiere of the video, Gaga and Grande took to social media to celebrate each other.
Thank you for reminding me I’m strong, I’m super emotional and love you so very much, I cherish you @ArianaGrande and little monsters without you I don’t know how I would survive. I’d rather be dry, but at least I’m alive.
“One time I felt like I was crying so much it would never stop. Instead of fighting it, I thought bring it on, I can do hard things. @arianagrande I love you for your strength and friendship. Let’s show them what we’ve got,” Gaga posted.
“one time ….. i met a woman who knew pain the same way i did… who cried as much as i did, drank as much wine as i did, ate as much pasta as i did and who’s heart was bigger than her whole body. she immediately felt like a sister to me,” Grande tweeted. “She then held my hand and invited me into the beautiful world of chromatica and together, we got to express how beautiful and healing it feels to mothaf***innnn cry ! i hope this makes u all feel as uplifted as it does for us both. i love u @ladygaga, u stunning superwoman !”
Chromatica, which Gaga has described as a “beautiful abstraction,” comes out May 29 and will also feature collaborations with her longtime friend Elton John and K-pop girl group Blackpink. While her sixth studio LP will obviously delve into some serious subject matter, Gaga told Lowe, “I think that the beginning of the album really symbolizes, for me, what I would call the beginning of my journey to healing, and what I would hope would be an inspiration for people that are in need of healing through happiness, through dance. … If you’re listening to this album and you’re suffering in any type of way, just know that that suffering within itself is a sign of your humanity and you are not broken. You are connected to the whole world and we are one giant body. We are one full entity.