Duana and I currently have Miley Cyrus on the rundown for the next Show Your Work podcast that we’re recording tomorrow night. We’ve been waiting for the new song to come out, to hear the new sound, this departure from the “twerk era” Miley that we’ve known the last few years. Malibu was released today, with the video. The song is about (or for?) Liam Hemsworth. They live in Malibu. They’re together again. And she wrote a song to celebrate the journey of their relationship:
We are just like the waves
That flow back and forth
Sometimes I feel like I’m drowning
And you’re there to save me
And I wanna thank you with all my heart
It’s a brand new start
A dream come true
When I first read the lyrics I thought maybe Madonna had written them. And while Madonna is good at many things (except impressing Patti LuPone), she is not a strong lyricist. Madonna did not write this song. But I have always said that if there’s any artist who reminds me most of Madonna, who could have the career of a Madonna, it’s Miley. Madonna always reinvented. And at just 24 years old, Miley has already been through two reinventions. You know what I don’t remember Madonna doing though?
I don’t remember Madonna insulting her own reinventions. Or at least dismissing them. Madonna, like Miley, before Miley, borrowed and appropriated. As Kathleen wrote earlier this week though, Miley borrowed blackness, appropriated black culture, and is now sh-t talking the very culture, the vibe, that she leveraged to transition her career. She may have tried to rationalise what she meant when she shaded hip-hop, claiming her words were taken out of context, but you can’t insist on being taken seriously, and blowhard that you have a message of peace and love and understanding to deliver, that that’s your mission now, and then turn around and bitch about the fact that your message got lost. If it got lost, maybe it’s because you weren’t that good at sending it?
But I guess that depends on the audience she’s sending it to. Malibu is for Liam. And who else? The Miley we see in this video is still sexy, running through the fields and on the sand in her underwear, in a bikini, but it’s a certain kind of sexy. A “wholesome” kind of sexy for certain demographics. If that wasn’t obvious enough, just look at the colours. For years now, Miley’s been the rainbow and her tongue:
In Malibu it’s neutral tones, safe greys, oatmeal and cream …and… white. As if to say… I’m clean, I’m cleansed, I’m free of whatever “that” was before. I’m done getting dirty, done with being corrupted by those influences and now I’m back to natural. The right kind of “natural”. If that’s the message then, uh yeah, we got it.