Are Arianators taking a shot in the dark? Fans and journalists alike have strong feelings that Ariana Grande's "The Light Is Coming" sample may have a hidden political message, as Teen Vogue revealed on Thursday, June 21.
Throughout Grande's new single, which features vocals from frequent collaborator Nicki Minaj, a seemingly random voice can be heard repeating the phrase, "You wouldn't let anybody speak." Fans were quick to take note of the sample, but, as Buzzfeed reported, it wasn't until MTV News' Madeline Roth did some digging that the clip's origin came to light.
"Soo, the sample in @ArianaGrande’s #TheLightIsComing (“you wouldn’t let anybody speak!”) appears to be from a CNN archive clip of a man shouting at Sen. Arlen Specter at a Pennsylvania town hall meeting in 2009," Roth tweeted on June 20, along with a video of the Obamacare protestor.
So what does it all mean? One easily verifiable fact is that the track's producer Pharrell Williams used the sample once before, in "Lemon," his N.E.R.D. group's song with Rihanna, as also pointed out by Buzzfeed.
Grande has yet to comment on the true meaning behind the inclusion of the sample though, so any other theories rely on assumption. We do know, however, that the four-time Grammy nominee has long been vocal about her own political views. Grande supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 Presidential election and she tweeted, "I'm in tears," when the election results were ultimately revealed in favor of current President Donald Trump.
“We just have to stick together right now," she also wrote on Instagram, per Teen Vogue. "Let's please be active and vocal every day toward making each other feel accepted and loved for our differences.”
In August 2017, she also shared an Instagram photo of an "Obama Forever" t-shirt.
While the sample has undeniable political roots, the message may simply be part of a larger and more literal theme of compassion and listening to one another's viewpoints in trying times. The song also includes the lyric, "The light is coming to give back everything the darkness stole."
Either way, the pop star has previously noted that her upcoming album Sweetener, which will be released on August 17, will mark the beginning of a new era for her producing music with a message.
"I’ve always just been like a shiny, singing, 5-6-7- 8, sexy-dance…sexy thing," she said in her cover story for The FADER’s 2018 Summer Music Issue, also admitting she often cried while writing her new album. "But now it’s like, OK … issa bop — but issa message. Issa bop but also has chunks of my soul in it."
After all, she experienced an emotional, life-changing event not so long ago. Just more than a year has passed since the tragic attack during her Manchester concert last May, which she also told The FADER led her to feel extremely vulnerable and to develop a deeper connection to her music: "I feel like I graduated almost. I feel like for a long time the songs were great, but they weren’t songs that made me feel something the way these songs do."
Still, not everything in this new chapter of her life has been quite so heavy. She returned the favor to Minaj by appearing on the rapper's sultry new single "Bed," which dropped on June 14. Minaj also released a teaser for the "Bed" music video on June 19. In the clip, the duo — who've also teamed up for 2014's "Bang Bang" and "Get On Your Knees," as well as last year's hit "Side To Side" — seem to be having a blast, romping in a bubble-filled poll and in the ocean.
On the personal front, Grande also recently became engaged to Saturday Night Live's Pete Davidson, after a whirlwind romance. Davidson confirmed their engagement on June 20, while appearing on The Tonight Show, telling host Jimmy Fallon their new relationship status has been "lit."
Of course we won't know Grande's true intentions until she comments herself or until we get our hands on more tracks from Sweetener, but the message of listening to one another is worth hearing, regardless.