"Love Me Harder"
So here's the question: When Ariana Grande coos, "'Cause if you want to keep me, you gotta, gotta, gotta, gotta got to love me harder," what exactly does she mean?
Is she asking her man to do a better job at loving her by trying harder to meet her needs, emotionally and spiritually speaking?
Or is it something just a nudge naughtier?
I really would love to give Ariana Grande full credit for the former interpretation. Because if that were the case, we could say she had enough self-respect to ask to be treated well and loved well—which would be a fine and positive message sent to young fans.
The song's context begs to differ with all that, alas. And guest contributor The Weeknd doesn't even bother to beg at all.
This smoldering R&B jam's chorus (co-written by the Swedish hit-making maestro Max Martin) ponders whether Ariana's beau has what it takes to keep being her man. Virtually everything else, however, is completely focused on the present. And it seems to be a pretty sensual present Ariana has in mind.
"Tell me something, I need to know," she begins. "Then take my breath and never let it go/If you just let me invade your space/I'll take the pleasure, take it with the pain." The suggestions of sex then get a bit bolder: "And if in the moment, I bite my lip/Baby, in that moment, you'll know this is/Something bigger than us and beyond bliss." And then this velvet hammer ultimatum before the chorus: "Give me a reason to believe it." In other words, if her man doesn't utterly satisfy her in those moments of breath taking, space invading, pleasure, pain, lip biting and bliss, well, the implication is that she might just have to hand him his walking papers.
"'Cause if you want to keep me, you gotta, gotta, gotta, gotta, got to love me harder/And if you really need me, you gotta, gotta, gotta, gotta, got to love me harder."
Dispensing with subtlety altogether, The Weeknd chimes in, "When I get you moaning, you know it's real." The next line about how it feels for a woman to have intercourse is followed by another carnal promise: "I'll make it feel like the first time."
Pretty sure by now this isn't a song about a guy being a better boyfriend—at least not morally speaking.
The accompanying video is predictably and purposefully erotic as a scantily clad Ariana sings in low light (sometimes on a bed), alternately caressing herself, pouting, arching and suggestively posing while The Weeknd lurks in the shadows.