While fans have enjoyed the song (produced by Pharrell Williams), they were quick to point out its prominent, repetitive vocal sample. Beginning at 0:05 and sprinkled through the entire song, a man is heard yelling, “You wouldn’t let anybody speak and instead.”
Per usual, the Arianators didn’t hold back their opinions on Twitter. Many were not a fan of the sample.
The light is coming is good but the mans voice in the background throws off the whole song tbh but I still love
— lyssa (@whereduhbeef) June 20, 2018
request: version of “the light is coming” without an old man screaming in the background
— Todd “Jon Mathias” Frinklebottom (@JonWins14) June 20, 2018
The Light is Coming would be 400x better if there wasn’t a voice constantly in the background
— PLS FOLLOW ME ARI (@grandesballoon) June 20, 2018
Fans did some further digging and found out the source of the vocal sample, putting together that it could lend some meaning to the song as a whole. It turns out, the vocal sample is from a 2009 CNN clip featuring a heated exchange between a man and Senator Arlen Spector, serving the state of Pennsylvania at the time. The clip became an infamous CNN moment, referred to as “town hell” in light of the tense atmosphere.
At 1:03 in the clip below, the quote “you wouldn’t let anybody speak” used in the song repetitively can be heard.
This isn’t the first time the infamous clip has been used in a song. At the beginning of the clip (0:20), the moderator of the town hall is heard saying “wait, wait a minute.” This stuttered speech is used in the N.E.R.D and Rihanna collaboration “Lemon.” Pharrell is a lead member of N.E.R.D and also was a writer and producer of the song. Also sampling the clip? “Master Race,” a 2015 hit by Busta Rhymes produced by — you guessed it — Pharrell.
Why the “town hell” clip was used in “The Light Is Coming” is still unclear, however some have theorized that the political undertone in the original clip is meant to apply to the song as well.
Grande has not addressed the sample directly, however she has said that she wants to “try different things” on this album. To get a better understanding for the track and how it fits into the whole album, fans will have to wait until Sweetener is released in full August 17.
Check out “The Light Is Coming” below: