Have Fun Decrypting the Slurred Lyrics in Ariana Grande's New Jam


Hmmm: Ariana Grande, “No Tears Left to Cry” — She’s back, and she’s completely reverted to her incomprehensible lyric roots! (Remember the all-too-brief period when Grande explored enunciating and placed a human-level of emphasis on her consonants? On “No Tears Left to Cry,” she’s back to slurring her speech (she might be messing with us at this point). But at least the song is fun as hell—Pharrell’s production is clear, Grande belts, and, in the video, she even defies gravity and removes her ROBOT FACES (plural). It’s an unexpected joy, one I will listen to 100 more times today to try and lay down some lyrics that aren’t just “I’m pickin’ it up.” –Maria Sherman

Y: Janelle Monáe, “I Like That” — Another record from her future “emotion film,” this is sonically stark but continues the thread of depicting Monáe as a singular rebel since youth: “I’m always left of center/And that’s right where I belong,” she sings. –Clover Hope

Y: Lykke Li, “hard rain” — SHE’S BAAAACK! Lykke Li, certified maker of bops, released two new singles this week, but this one is my favorite. Her voice rings out at the start with such clarity and ease that I both remember why she’s so good at this and am excited to see wherever she goes next. The stripped-down, quieter quality of this song definitely deviates from her earlier hits—less shout-y, more confessional than pep rally—but in a good way. –Frida Garza

No, mijos: Liam Payne and J. Balvin, “Familiar” — I am, despite all rhyme or reason, a huge fan of pop-reggaetonero J. Balvin, and not Liam Payne, though I’ve dedicated most of the last five years to thinking about One Direction. Together, both dudes have created the inoffensively offensive “Familiar,” an obvious play on Payne’s part to get in on that “Despacito” coinage. Here’s the thing, though—the Brit doesn’t even attempt a Spanish-language verse like bad boy Bieber, and Balvin’s is the only salvageable part of the entire three minutes. Skip this one. –MS

Y: Let’s Eat Grandma, “It’s Not Just Me” — This duo Rosa Walton and Jenny Hollingworth came out with their delightfully creepy and kooky debut I, Gemini in 2016 when they were just teenagers. Now they’ve grown up, just a bit, and their new song “It’s Not Just Me,” co-produced by SOPHIE, funnels all the feelings of a youthful crush into a surprisingly sleek pop song. –Hazel Cills

Not really: Billie Eilish ft. Khalid, “Lovely” Up-and-comer Billie Eilish does one particular thing very well, and she does it in every song she releases: whisper-sung vocals and ethereal production that lifts only so slightly at the chorus. It makes for a really relaxing, romantic listen, but that gets tiresome and redundant after a while. That said, Khalid is a welcome addition into Eilish’s universe and “Lovely” is, well, lovely—but nothing more than that. It’s the sonic equivalent of someone describing you as “nice.” –MS

Y: Miguel, Daniel Caesar’s “Get You” cover — I like how Miguel put his sensual stank on this song from one of my favorite young R&B singers but kept the smooth, gentle mood going. –CH

No, I don’t think so: Sugaland feat. Taylor Swift, “Babe” Any whiff of goodwill I might have had for Taylor Alison Swift was whisked away after her desecration of Earth Wind & Fire’s “September,” so I’m really struggling to find objectivity when listening to this song, sung competently by Sugaland’s Jennifer Nettles and backed by the wispy vocal stylings of Swift. Apparently, Swift declined to use this record for Red, but gave it to Sugaland instead. It’s fine, summery in parts, but overall, not my cup of tea. –Megan Reynolds

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