Day 164: It’s Time to Face the Fact that Miley Cyrus Wrote (Recorded) a Good Song
by Tom Noonan
So Miley didn’t write “Wrecking Ball”. I know that, you (probably) know that, and Juicy J definitely knows that. But you know who did (co-)write it? Dr. Luke. And do you know what else Dr. Luke (co-)wrote? That’s right, he (co-)wrote “Since U Been Gone”. Remember that genre-smashing, generation-defying anthem? Remember how it convinced you that Kelly Clarkson had Britney power with none of the weird, swollen childhood baggage weighing her down? Well those days are behind us, and all we have to show for them is Miley and her sledgehammer.
But, for all the hype, I’m not convinced that’s such a bad thing*. For one, “Wrecking Ball” is a good song. I think it might even be a very good song. I even tweeted this admission:
You know, well, the thing about it is... what I guess I'm trying to tell you is that I've thought a lot and decided I like "Wrecking Ball"—
Tom Noonan (@GONEbyNoon) September 26, 2013
Take away the video (maybe**), and I’m willing to argue it’s one of the best pop songs of the year. Sure, it’s got the depth and nuance of a cinder block, but isn’t that why they called it “Wrecking Ball” in the first place? It doesn’t matter if the song swings blindly because it’ll still cause a fuck ton of destruction. Also, those ping-ponging synths are at just the right frequency, and the EDM chorus gives us the hollowest bass drop imaginable; it’s what that thing young people confuse for love might sound like if you shot it into space.
And if you’re still not buying any of this, check out indie-pop darlings HAIM covering “Wrecking Ball”. They bring the song crashing back down to earth, and despite sounding great, it just doesn’t work. They sound too put together, too in control of the world around them. They’re far more deserving than Miley but decided to show up to a gunfight with a scalpel. It turns out Miley was the only one who knew to pack a bazooka.
*I’m also not convinced it’s a good thing. I’ve already written on her troubling practice of cultural cribbing, but “Wrecking Ball” is a good example of how she could let that part of her celebrity go. It did get some good, and some important, discussions going, but I’m not convinced that the gleeful objectification of the bodies of black women is the best entry point for a national discussion on race.
**Hell, I’ll even argue for the video, not as one of the best of the year, but as something worth just a little bit of critical weight. There’s something to be said about that kind of commitment to a vision of dystopian construction sex fantasies. If we keep putting so much of our energy and focus into building things higher and higher, won’t we eventually need to repay the tools that tear it all down and free us from our own vertical greed? (I never said it was a strong argument. I just said it was an argument.)