Deconstructing Youth: My Nieces are Doomed or I’m Just Too Old (Already)

There’s no one hotter right now than Miley Cyrus. She’s got a hit TV show, sells out arenas across the country, is the only artist to still sell records and is easily the richest kid alive right now. Little girls idolize her (or Hannah Montana) and even her recent Vanity Fair photo controversy doesn’t appear to be slowing her down at all. The girl is 15 years old. When I was fifteen I was knocking people’s books over at school and living up to expectations of an angst filled youth.

But really, can we attribute the success to Miley herself or more likely her managers, her formerly famous father, Disney, her handlers and songwriters? While I’m sure she is a sweet girl, Miley Cyrus or Hannah Montana is just a shell and image, just like Hilary Duff (Lizzy McGuire) and Britney Spears before her. I hope the best for her and continued success but she needs to know when to cash in her chips and move on to the next big thing. Kids grow up and have quick memories. Those royalty checks won’t be coming in forever. I just hope she’s smart enough to learn from those who have crashed and burned before her.

“Oh, Miley!”


My beef is with the machine. There will always be a Miley Cyrus around for young girls (and boys) to worship. Labels crank out talent for consumption every five years or so for the next wave of fans and they usually disappear as quickly as they arrived. But somewhere along the line, Miley has started to cross over from a teeny-bopper to a true pop-star. Case in point: her latest hit, “See You Again,” which can be heard every five minutes on the Disney channel as well as in regular rotation on your local KISS radio station. For the sake of my rant, let’s break down this pop masterpiece.

Right off the bat, the beat is minimal but catchy, electronic yet accessible. It’s no “Bohemian Rhapsody” but that’s the beauty. Miley’s southern drawl comes through so subtly that it’s scarily sexy. But more deplorable than the pure mechanics of the track is the pervasive lyrical content.

The first verse opens so:

I got my sight set on you
And I’m ready to wait
I have a heart that will
Will never be tamed
I knew you were somethin’ special
When you spoke my name
Now I can’t wait, To see you again

Ok, am I completely naïve or does Miley not know that she’s singing about sex? I get the appeal of the good girl gone bad and naughty schoolgirl fantasy (See: Britney Spears, who was older and much hotter). But her audience is predominantly parents and girls under the age of thirteen. Sure, she could be singing about puppy love and a first crush on a boy but I highly doubt it. Her baritone lower register oozes seduction and a come-hither attitude. It’s just wrong on so many levels.

Then, the chorus kicks in and I don’t know whether to puke or throw my hands in the air and scream like I just hit puberty.

The last time I freaked out
I just kept lookin’ down
I st-st-stuttered when
You asked me what I’m thinkin’ ’bout

Felt like I couldn’t breathe
You asked what’s wrong with me
My best friend Leslie said
“Oh, She’s just bein’ Miley”

And next time we hang out
I will redeem myself
My heart can’t rest ’til then
Whoa, whoa, I
I can’t wait
To see you again

Where do I begin? The refrain is so saccharin, so sweet and so disposable that it’s completely perfect. It’s like we get a glimpse into a supervised slumber party at Miley’s house where all her friends (boys too!) are just chilaxin’ in her mansion, popping corn and doing silly karaoke routines. But when Miley’s crush stops by after football practice, she gets all nervous and quiet. Aww, I’m sure he’s so dreamy. The boy, let’s call him Chad, tries to be smooth, noticing that she’s acting weird but oh you know, “SHE’S JUST BEING MILEY!”

Really???

We as the listener are supposed to believe that Miley Cyrus gets boy crazy with butterflies in the stomach when she sees her crush and that her BFF always comes to the rescue to avoid a total OMG moment that would like totally ruin her chances with the cute quarterback. I could maybe buy that if the song wasn’t written by five dudes over the age of forty.

But wait. It’s not over. Not only is she “just being Miley,” but she also feels that she messed up her chances so bad by freezing up around her boo, that she needs to fucking REDEEM HERSELF. Sweet redemption Jesus, save her! Miley will not rest until the next time they hang out and she acts way cooler. That clearly is the most important thing in life. The question is, HOW are you going to redeem yourself, Miley? Bat your eyelashes, smile, fetch him a soda pop out of the icebox… give him a hand job?

All of this, of course is up for interpretation and the power of suggestion is like a Mack truck. The songwriters know exactly what they are doing.Sly innuendos, vocal melodies, subtle hints at true emotions. Dirty. Old. Men. Money, Money, Money.

I wouldn’t have such a problem if the girl singing and the girls listening weren’t so young. Call me old, call me out of touch, call me repetitive and preaching to the choir. But I’m just not comfortable with it. Maybe it’s because last year my nieces discovered Hannah Montana and High School Musical, ten years before their content will become a reality. Maybe it’s because I’m sick of the pop cycle. Maybe it’s because I’m jealous. But when impressionable girls half my age hang on every word that Miley sings (or songwriters pen) and can’t tell the difference between genuine emotion and fake pop records, I fear for future music generations. There is nothing innocent about being a corporate puppet. I really don’t have any answers but I know that I don’t like it and there’s really nothing I can do about it. Oh well. I’ve said my piece.

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Filed under Cultural Criticism, Music

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