When Lady Gaga writes song lyrics, she often makes up a specific imaginary person, and pretends as if she is talking to him, but the back story is pretty grandiose and stimulating, so it opens the door to a wide range of interpretation.
In Bad romance, for example, she talks about a man whom she desired so much, even though she is acutely aware of his danger. One could tell that it’s a mere love song, but it is also very convincing to interpret this as the perception of fame.
In Million Reasons, Gaga talks about a relationship in which she puts a lot but receives very little. However, as long as there is at least a good reason to stay, she’ll stay. Once again, this could be read as Gaga’s thoughts on being famous and her feeling for her great fans.
This tactic of writing lyrics could also be seen in The edge of glory, You and I and many other songs by Gaga. I can tell this is a really smart move in producing pop songs.
Rain on me was also created with this tactic. The lyrics is so ambiguous that people could relate to it on so many different levels. Some may think of it as a woman’s anger in a broken relationship, while others could refer to PTSD or drug dependence, but the broadest reception would link this song to trauma and healing, going through and seeking beauty in pain (aka “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, and by the way, it’s Nietzsche’s, not Kelly Clarkson’s).
Now, I would love to offer another way of understanding this song. Rain on me could be reminiscent of Gaga’s 2011 hit Born this way.
If we look closely to the lyrics, we know that it is about living our true self and embrace the challenges following it. Take the act of coming out for example, it takes tremendous courage to really step out of the umbrella and endure the rain of harsh criticism from backward minds, but it’s worth trying because at least we could feel truly alive.
“Gotta live my truth, not keep it bottled in”
“I’d rather be dry, but at least I’m alive.
Rain on me, rain, rain.“
And the proof is in the music video, with racially diverse dancers in gender-fluid bodysuits and fierce platform boots under a post-apocalyptic thunderdome. Gaga once said that Chromatica, to her, is a planet for the queer, that when this rigid earth could no longer accommodates its diverse citizens, Gaga and her tokusatsu “stupid love” army would create another world for people of different colors.
At the beginning of the video, the two singers perform almost independently with Gaga in plastic pink theme and Grande in blue, but at the end of the video, they come together and form, let say, a transgender flag (though I think this color scheme trend is somehow dated). Grande even wears butterfly wings which is often regarded as another symbol of transgender people, and there’s also a frame in which their hair was like the pony’s tail (Gaga did relate this image to the embodiment of identity, in Hair).
So the message is, do not conceal your identity and own the guts to “get wet” because you have no idea how beautiful it could be to dance under a downpour. May our tears wash away our condemned sins.
America has been said to be much more divided than ever, maybe partly due to identity politics, yet with Chromatica, Gaga has an ambition to bring back inclusivity and settle things down by spreading love, even “stupid love”. I can tell this is nothing new a creative concept, but it could be entertaining to see whether Gaga could revive her unprecedented glory since Born this way.