Miley Cyrus seems to have quite a presence in the spotlight recently–the VMAs may have helped–and mostly for terrible reasons. I want to start by initially recognizing that her appropriation of black culture is something worth examining and is not only disheartening, but disrespectful and damaging. However, I won’t be addressing that further in this post, as it is strictly a review of her newest music.
Say what you want, but Miley’s new music is arguably the most artful she has ever made. Hands down. First and foremost, Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz doesn’t conform to the cookie-cutter pop form we’ve grown so accustomed to seeing from not only her, but the entire industry. It has been freaking people out. In my book that means she’s doing something right. Making people uncomfortable is one of the greatest facets of art. Second, she isn’t simply singing pop songs, but interpolating many different musical elements and has created something very different. Some of the songs on Dead Petz vaguely resemble what could only be described as Beach House‘s love child with The Beatles–but maybe that’s just me or maybe it’s the fact that one of the songs features Sarah Barthel from Phantogram. Others take the pop-song and break it down to a visceral, broken place. And still others are just way out there, effects on effects on effects. And then there are the few songs of which I am trying so hard to see the musical value, but can’t seem to get passed (see “F#ckin F#cked Up”).
Now on to the main discussion of the public: “Dooo It!”
Is the video nasty? Absolutely. Is the song hard to see at more than face value? Definitely. However, this song is very misrepresentative of this “new Miley” on Dead Petz. Most songs are actually quite listenable. And as much as we all don’t want to admit it, “Dooo It!” will get stuck in your head. But I think it says something that everyone is seeing it as a problem with who she is and are attacking her as a person. “Miley used to be so sweet.” What?! She’s an artist, people. It says way more about her that she’s evolving and changing the pace than it would if she kept singing teeny-bop songs like “Best of Both Worlds.” People have done much more radical things and could be considered great artists. You tell me why a Slipknot song–keep in mind, they’re one of my favorite bands–about slitting someone’s throat open and raping the wound is less controversial than a girl singing about smoking pot and squirting glitter from her mouth, because I’m not understanding that. Is Slipknot more artistic? Is there more substance to their songs?
Expression is endless. It is a vast expanse of feelings wrapped into the tangible. It is an extension of someone. It is confusing and beautiful. Expression is free of boundaries and the less it conforms, the less it is understood, the more it becomes something to examine. We need to examine Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz. It’s about time that people quit being afraid of something they don’t understand. I’m not even going to give this a rating, because no matter what I say, Miley Cyrus is someone you already have judgements on–whether good or bad. What I am suggesting however is that you give it a shot. Jump out of your comfort zone. Embrace the weird.
To help with this, I’ve listed my top eight songs–out of twenty-three–from Dead Petz on Soundcloud in no particular order below:
Karen Don’t Be Sad
Tiger Dreams (feat. Ariel Pink)
Slab of Butter (Scorpion) (Featuring Sarah Barthel of Phantogram)
Something About Space Dude
Evil is But A Shadow
Pablow the Blowfish
Bang Me Box