Friday, August 28, 2009

Miley Cyrus - "Party in the USA" - Pop Chart Adventure Part 1

Let's talk about "Party in the USA".

Some people, as stupid as it would be, are going to interpret "Party in the USA", as yet another Miley song about growing up or something. It seems like Miley's handlers have been hinting at this almost since she hit the public consciousness, and rightly so: that's pretty much their job. It's the same thing they've already dealt with in the cases of Hillary Duff and Lindsay Lohan (oh my god what do we do when she she's too old to pull of the young and innocent angle?). At first glance, this could be Miley's "Come Clean" - Hillary's moment of transition for Disney tween sensation to almost full on mainstream pop star - and truth be told, it could sound good as a theme song to a better-than-it-should-be reality TV show. "Come Clean" was an obvious ploy, though, in the same way "The Climb" was. It's surprisingly easy to go from tween pop to epic inspirational pop. While the music is slightly heavier and more "adult" sounding, the saccharine sentimentality is the same, and its an easy way to get old people to pay attention to an act that's supposed to be for kids.

"She's talking about the climb? I know all about that! It's like, my job and like, how I went to school and shit? She's not just a kid anymore I think."

But this song has the fucking word "party" in the title, and Miley already did "The Climb". As much as "Come Clean" was a don't even think about it staple of dance parties I attended in 2005-06, it wasn't designed to be a jam, and Hillary never followed it up with much of anything. "Party in the USA" is a perfect follow up to "The Climb", and it works. It's a good enough song, and calculated well enough, to grab the 18-25 year olds that were both too old to get in on the early Miley hysteria and too young to appreciate the syrupy MOR bullshit of "The Climb. Even if my appreciation of its message hinges on a misheard lyric, I'll stump for it.

"I'm nodding my head like yeah" -> "I'm not in my head like yeah"

It's six of one in my book. Miley's songwriters would have written the second if they thought they could get away with it and why? Cause this song's about the ability of music to affect one's mental state and the perception of one's environment. It's a well worn subject in dance music, to be sure ("Music Sounds Better With You" comes to mind), but Miley and her people stumble on it gracefully here. The transcendental, context changing power of music, what I believe to be the primary message of the song, albeit hidden under layers of pop culture reference ("the Jay Z/Britney song was on" - meaning: "look I'm not one of those Jesus freak Jonas kids that doesn't listen to the radio") and standard adolescent unease, what I guess you could unfortunately call emo at this point, the "what am I doing here" shit ("my tummie's turning and I'm feeling kinda homesick").

If you look at the general narrative of the song it goes like this. Miley is going to LA. She feels like she is out of her element. People look different, people dress differently, and she feels self conscious. This partly due to the fact that she finds herself among people she deems to be famous. The only thing that snaps her back into her personal reality is music. She hears songs she knows, songs she can identify with, and she realizes that her current surroundings aren't so different from those she's used to. She is now able to go as apeshit as a caged 16 year old pop star can go (apparently this ends at throwing your hands up, shaking your hips, and doing a couple of other non-disruptive things "like yeah").

This is something we can all identify with, but it ought o be resonate even more for those of us who happen to be in the aforementioned early 20's demographic. Add to that fact that the rock/pop production lends to song some extra credibility and you have a song that might just finally cross Miley over. Kudos.

Unfortunately, it seems like it's impossible to find a version of the track on YouTube that doesn't have some sort of problem. I've chosen the version with the uniformly shitty quality rather than the over the one where the short bitrate results in the oddly distorted mids, or the one with the ridiculously overblown low end. Enjoy.

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