I wasn’t a fan of popular music for most of my life. I’d have to say in retrospect nineties grunge was popular, and really anything popular to the mainstream is considered ‘popular’ but I’m getting ahead of myself here. To me, throughout my angsty teen years up through my troubled artist college years (and ramen-inhaling-due-to-poverty years, it seems), popular music was pale. Thin like paper, white like a ghost, and hard to access (for me). Derivative. Lacking in substance. Completely and irrevocably tethered to junk lyrics, junk beats, junk Idols, and junk sound. Take that ridiculous incessant mind-draining prattle, I can’t even place the name as I’ve blotted it out of my memory, ‘my lady lumps’ song by Fergie. Or was it the Black Eyed Peas? Don’t care, because the only way I’ll listen to the song is if Alanis Morisette sings it. Yeah. That sortof feeling. That all popular music is garbage, and therefore, Pop music is garbage.
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I also hated Miley Cyrus as well. Not even for the music, because honestly though trite, it wasn’t unapproachable. It just didn’t hit me in the way other music did, and so, in years of learning to like the pop jams, I stumbled headfirst into her stint with the Flaming Lips.
And I died a little inside
More like la petite mort, and less like I wanted to stuff my head in a blender. 2015 has been the year of 1989 and E-MO-TION or however Carly pens her fantastic album (too lazy to check). This has brought the eighties back in a huge way. Pop culture has rounded back to the days of my youth and I am feeling, no, I am tasting the color of synth sweat and pops of acrid pink dance on my aural palette.
It is an enjoyable album. I first got into it by listening to BB Talk. For non-believers who think this song is a slab of butter (there’s also a song called Slab of Butter, coincidentally), it is literally a song about how the person she’s with calls her baby-kissy-face names and talks like she’s a living Bratz doll. I think this irritates a good swath of females, and it infantilizes them. In fact, the entire music video is her derping around like a baby. And the pull-away quote from this song?
Dude, as if I’m not fucking awkward enough. I mean, you put me in these fucking situations where I look like a dumbass bitch and I’m not a fucking dumbass bitch
Never has a line so resonated with me. And the apt;
Your baby talk is creeping me out
Fuck me so you stop baby talking
Well, then, yes. Miley. Women sometimes get pissed off when dudes slobber baby names on them and would appreciate being represented as strong sexual entities and not tiny little baby children who fall on their faces and cannot manage finances. Maybe if they have sex with you they’ll respect your autonomy and adult-hood and stop looking at you like you are a toddler.
For reference, I like when Trevor talks to me all cutesy. But it is firmly established that I am not a wee child. I am a verbal bazooka attached to legs.
It’s off-the-cuff. It’s catchy. It’s fun, and hearing her speak is oddly cathartic as I can relate and I’m sure I’ve said many of these things before. The ‘dude’ slang being peppered in while she places spoken word expertly between the chorus is something I can entirely relate to.
We aren’t here to just talk about one song, but I hope you hearing my take on the content of BB Talk can solidify you to at least take an attempt at hearing this.
The album plays like a dreamy, trippy, technicolor wonderland through Willy Wonka’s factory laced with sex, drugs, and eighties colors. The first scent I would relate it to is burning plastic. Miley, in this album, has taken up with the Flaming Lips to grasp her pop style by the genitalia and veer it into a vat of neon jelly while she jello-wrestles the pop music behemoth known as ‘Bland’. And tells you about drugs, and about weird stuff like milky milky milk.
Ok, that one is lost on me, I’ll give you that much.
Karen Don’t Be Sad is a gorgeous slow lower-throat mumble but it lilts effortlessly into singer-songwriter territory, and I think it’s a lot about Miley and her own personal struggles. It’s played over a sortof playful, almost sing-songy beat that reminds me of children’s games. Again, it’s some melding of infant ideas. Perhaps she feels almost a child in this great weight of her career and staggering presence? Tangerine is interesting and sounds two shades away from a Massive Attack song had a baby with FKA Twigs. Lighter has synth beats that make me want to jump into Kate Bush’s arms played with a soft vocal that talks about love and weed smoking.
Very clearly this is a Miley Cyrus album, while many would argue its a Flaming Lips album. No, it’s her’s. And it’s as fun and irreverent as you could ever hope for in a pop album. Fun in the real way, not fun in the we’ve-brainwashed-you-to-like-Rihanna-songs type of way.
Slab of Butter is the pull-away best track on this, paired with it’s sister I Forgive Yiew. They both have the same thrulling (let’s say humming and thrilling and throbbing got a joint marriage) under-track. It’s spacey, it feels like I’m floating in a tube of stars, and I want more of it. But here’s the greatest kicker of this entire thing; Slab of Butter leads with ‘I’m about to get fucked up’ etc, a lot like a Peaches song.
But this isn’t Peaches.
This is Miley fucking Cyrus.
And the entire rest of it is a deceit to that earlier line. A bait and switch. Because it’s beautiful, floaty, and dreamy. Like some cupcake filled with galaxies and sprinkled with crunk Jem and the Holograms glitter.
Self control is not something I’m working on
This line stuck with me hard like a jab into my throat. No, Miley. You don’t care about self control. You care about this decadence of being one hundred percent genuine and not giving a flying lizard’s left buttcheek. Actually, you care about having fun, hedonism, and enjoying your life. I can respect the shit out of that.
In this opulent, messy, caustic, hysteric, trippy side-album you are giving us a whiff of your inner self.
And I adore what I smell, burning plastic and all.
Listen to the whole album in all it’s toxic fruit-loop eighties trippy glory, right here