Well, here we are. After a couple weeks of Katy Perry's grrrrl power anthem (and shout out to boxing references) "Roar" being atop the charts, Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" is the number one single on the Billboard Hot 100. Now I've got to deal with this nonsense. What have I gotten myself in to? I've never heard a Miley Cyrus song, although I certainly have heard a bunch of inane stuff in recent months because she is very popular on the internets. I listen to the Girls in Hoodies podcast, and they love her. I've made my thoughts on Billy Ray Cyrus, her father, known in my Songs We Wish We Could Forget article on "Achy Breaky Heart." Long story short, I despise that asshole. This isn't about him, though. This is about his daughter and her song and, probably, her video.
Call me jaded, call my eye jaundiced, but I have a strong sense of why this song is number one. In this modern era, YouTube hits and stuff like that play into being the number one song, and "Wrecking Ball" has a music video that has gotten a lot of coverage. I haven't seen it, but what I know if it makes it seem like it sprung forth from the brain of a John Waters character who is just learning about the concept of "eroticism." Also, they have access to a construction site.
Anywho, the video is being frequented by pervs, and creeps, and other assorted ne'er-do-wells. Miscreant teenagers and the like. Sure, also some looky-loos and curious folks, and maybe some people who just want to listen to the song. I'm not heard to discuss that stuff really, although my disdain has already probably shown through. I'm hear to listen to this song and then get on with my life. Also, to point out that when I saw a headline on Vulture about a wrecking ball at a college that was being sullied in the wake of this video, I knew it was Grand Valley State, because I happened to go there for a semester. I have been atop said ball, which isn't really a wrecking ball, it's like a pendulum thing, a one-part Newton's cradle. Anyway, me and some friends all stood atop it and swung it around and tried to knock each other off. Why do people nostalgize their teenaged years again?
While I have been expressing exasperation and resignation about listening to Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" for Hit Parade, I was being slightly tongue in cheek. I treat every song with an open mind. I just figured I wouldn't like it. However, in truth, the song isn't all that bad. It is a heartbreak ballad, which makes the music videos attempt at sexy sexiness really weird. It has a quiet, loud, quiet, loud thing going on. Miley Cyrus is apparently following in Pixies footsteps (I know their thing was loud, quiet, loud but my point stands).
The song actually got me to pause for a moment and really listen closely, in part because, for once, I could understand all the lyrics clearly. Thanks, production team! In some sort of twist of irony, Miley is the wrecking ball, but she ends up wrecked by his love interest. There are some clunky metaphors and such, but, lyrically, the song is all right. I mean, it has substance to it. It isn't clumsy or awkward or ridiculous. It actually feels like a reasonable take on love lost and relationships broken. What the hell is going on here?
Plus, Cyrus, if this song is indicative of other efforts, can sing pretty well. The big, booming chorus is fairly generic. It isn't all that different from what Perry is doing in "Roar," but slightly less polished and slightly less empty. It is the quiet parts that I like best. The sort of synthy sound is good, and Cyrus' more souful singing feels more indicative of the emotions of this song.
So yeah, "Wrecking Ball" is the second best number one of the year, behind Bruno Mars' "Locked Out of Heaven." I wouldn't mind hearing it again. I kind of enjoyed it. I wish it wasn't tied to its atrocious, bizarre music video. I wish the song got the chance to stand on its own merits away from the swirling mess around Cyrus and her performances and her weird race stuff and the other things serious people on serious blogs write about. There is talent here. There is something worthwhile here. And odds are it will be destroyed and cast aside and buried in the sand. Look upon Miley Cyrus' works, ye mighty, and despair.