In case you didn’t know, pop’s wild child Miley Cyrus has prepared some new tunes to shove down our throats again. Except this time, the wildest thing about Miley is that she’s being as inoffensive as humanly possible. Well… trying to be, anyway.
“Malibu” is the former Disney act’s first serving from her upcoming sixth album, and there’s no denying that it is a bop. “Malibu” is a sunshiny, dreamy LA pop song, which hears Miley’s rich and raspy vocals celebrate love through some scenic lyrics about boats or something. But (and there’s always a ‘but’ when it comes to Miley Cyrus) during the first major interview with Billboard Magazine for the LP, Miley made this questionable observation about hip-hop music:
“But I also love that new Kendrick [Lamar] song [“Humble”]: “Show me somethin’ natural like ass with some stretch marks.” I love that because it’s not “Come sit on my dick, suck on my cock.” I can’t listen to that anymore. That’s what pushed me out of the hip-hop scene a little. It was too much “Lamborghini, got my Rolex, got a girl on my cock” — I am so not that.”
Okay – what? We need to flash back to the “three years ago” Miley alludes to in “Malibu”’s lyrics – you know, when she was ‘just being Miley’ by twerking on national television? Bangerz was (and still is) an incredible album, and one which will certainly be remembered for years to come. But Miley’s entire branding for her era was that after years of playing Hannah Montana, we were experiencing Miley Cyrus in her true and real form. That realness? Miley’s major affinity with hip-hop music.
In her basketball jersey, huge gold chains and even huger gold rings, everything for the outspoken hip-hop head was “dope, yo.” “I back it up, cause I don’t give a fuck / If you’re a lame, that’s a shame you can’t hang with us,” a grills-donning Miley aggressively boasted on Mike Will Made-It’s 2013 rap hit “23”. The “Needed Me” producer contributed seven tracks to the Bangerz record, such as “Love Money Party (feat. Big Sean)” and “My Darlin’ (feat. Future)”, and served as its executive producer alongside Miley. According to Rock City, the writers for the album’s major party hymn and lead single “We Can’t Stop”, the Nashville native disgracefully demanded “something that just feels black.” Miley’s drastic image overhaul sparked a wave of discussion about its authenticity, which she neither confirmed nor denied when quizzed by the media: “Well, that’s a character,” Miley began in defence of her VMA stage persona to the New York Times, before backtracking with the remark that she “would rather have everything [she does] be 100 percent honest”; “I just want to be who I am.”
“People see change as a bad thing,” Miley obtusely maundered during one radio interview for “Malibu”. Of course, people change over time. It happens. “When I look at “Party in the U.S.A.,” that was really who I was then,” she confessed to Elle. Well, when I look at Bangerz, Miley… I see an insensitive FRAUD. Sure, Miley may have been acting real then – although, based on her comments about characterization and selling records, it seems decidedly dubious. But ultimately, what we’re dealing with here is just another white artist exploiting black excellence and wearing it as a costume to appear ‘edgy’; a costume Miley has now hung up after gaining everything she could by wearing it, in the walk-in wardrobe of her $2.5million Malibu mansion. And how dare she – how dare she! Miley had zero problems with that side of the hip-hop scene, when she was milking it to desperately smash those Disney shackles. As Miley admitted to Billboard, that Bangerz era “got [her] to where [she is] now” and, although she claims that she was “not, like, making fun of a culture,” to now lampoon the genre which she so desperately begged to be a part of is unbelievably problematic. Calling up black producers and rappers in attempts to rebrand as a ‘mature’ performer is not uncommon behavior from white artists (it’s one of the reasons why I loathe Justin Timberlake so much), but it’s exhausting when they start to publically demonize the genre like this.
It’s not just the offhanded comment to Billboard which is the problem here though; it’s her brand new look which accentuates the uneasiness of her attitudes. Just watch “Malibu”’s music video. Really watch it. The whiteness and brightness omits vibes of angelic purity, especially against those natural backdrops. Miley’s philosophy about people wondering “what the hell is she doing” is in full force yet again – the public are eating up Miley 6.0 and feasting on the “cleaned up, natural beauty” of her white (!) clothing, blonde pig tails and eyes bluer than the sky she refers to in “Malibu”. In a shrewd and calculated business tactic, the rebrand of Miley Cyrus confirms that she is yet another white popstar who will do absolutely to get what she wants (attention and $£€₡؋₪₩¥), at the cost of absolutely nothing and nobody.
Pleasingly, the backlash towards Miley Montana’s little comment in the Billboard issue was so huge that she had to dedicate an entire Instagram post defending herself. The Happy Hippie founder tried to achieve redemption with a humble brag about how she will “continue to love and celebrate hip hop as [she has] collaborated with some of the very best!” I’m… Anyway… For Miley to deprecate a culture that she joyfully appropriated for profit indicates that she was desperately craving attention and headlines the whole time (we been knew, though). “At the end of the day I want people to buy my records… I want people to want to hear my records and the more that they’re wondering what the hell is she doing, the more they’re going to want to listen to my record,” the businesswoman and apparent branding and PR guru bluntly admitted to Hunger. Miley’s theory panned out well for the Bangerz costume, as the album has since sold a commendable 4.5 million copies. Seems to be working for her new one too – really well. “Malibu” went straight to number one on iTunes and has been streamed over eight million times on Spotify, whereas the breezy music video easily surpassed twenty-six million YouTube views.
Miley’s ability to reinvent herself harkens back to Madonna’s glory days (Bedtime Stories, anyone?). The fact Miley’s all but washed her hands of the hip-hop scene, which she so frantically besought validation from three years ago, by rebranding as a clean country star is nothing short of disgusting ingenuity. It’s Miley’s “brand new start” to refresh and keep the public’s eyes fervently on her, and their coins even more fervently in her pockets. But is it a respected move? No. At least, not by me anyway.
Thanks to @thepoopculture for the featured image.