Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Miley Cyrus – Party in the USA

And it’s fuckin’ raining in Leeds…


Anthony Miccio: The monoculture still exists, y’all! When I moved to LA back when I was thirteen, I was scared cuz I didn’t think I’d fit in at the clubs! But then they played Britney and Jay-Z! Man, I thought that was Nashville hick music! Common ground, y’all! Corporate hegemony rules! Woop, woop! This ringtone is my ringtone, this ringtone is your ringtone…

Anthony Easton: Is it weird that what bugs me about this is that it assumes that Nashville has no connection with Los Angeles at all? Billy Ray was priming Miley for some kind of fame for a decade before adroitly plugging her into the Hollywood machine. Her work post the second film, attaching an adult interest in allowing her two adolescent personae to flow past the genre signifers of pop, rock and country, continues here, but she seems to have dropped any sense of self awareness; it becomes generic, and for the metric ton of ego that is powering the lyrics, one would assume less of Billy’s power and more self-awareness, more alertness. It does not even unhinge itself in an interesting way.

Dave Moore: She’s been Hannah Montana for a while now, but none of that stuff ever really felt as much like our very own late-00’s Robin Sparkles. This song nails it — my issue with it, actually, is that it isn’t nearly shameless enough. Sure, we get Jay-Z and Britney, but where are the iPhones? The Red Bulls? The Barack Obama T-shirts? The Facebooks? The Rock Bands? The Roombas? The FlipCams? The Nick Jonas combination wallet chain and insulin pump tubes? The-Dreams? The Autotunes? The 808s? The 3OH!3’s? The WTFs, FTWs, FMLs, and FAILs? The Rickrolls? The Rickrosses? The Axe Body Sprays? The Priuses? The purity rings? That gum that you just stick on your tongue so it dissolves? Missed opportunities all.

Al Shipley: It’s somehow appropriate that Miley’s most confident step to date toward modern, Dr. Luke-produced chart pop has such a cheesy-ass Radio Disney title. Unfortunately, all the production sheen in the world can’t buff that Baby Alanis yarl into a good pop vocal, and I just keep wishing that killer synth riff belonged to some other song.

John M. Cunningham: On its face, this chipper single is about the ameliorative powers of music. But it’s also, as the title hints, a celebration of the common American culture, whose death was mourned alongside Michael Jackson’s two months ago. It’s true that there are no blockbuster albums like Thriller anymore, but in the era of Clear Channel, it’s even more possible than ever to hear the same Jay-Z song on the radio in L.A. as you heard yesterday in Nashville. And however you feel about capitalist monopolies, mainstream pop’s ability to elide regional differences is also a demonstrable comfort, even if it’s most deeply felt by the type of teenage girl who routinely jaunts off to Hollywood for a weekend by herself.

John Seroff: That Cyrus, as a reigning franchise herself, pulls this off without cynical sneering or fatuous genuflecting is mostly a triumph of the best production money can buy; you’d be hard pressed to squeeze more smiles out of space-age elastic bass, eighth-second multi-track echoes and sharply delineated tambourine. Give credit where it’s due though: what elevates “Party” to essential bubblegum anthem status is Cyrus’ joie de vivre; her sunny chirrup that so perfectly captures the spirit of eyes closed, hairbrush-as-microphone, dancin’ with muh-seh-helf ecstasy.

Alex Ostroff: Totally inane. The weird urban/rural class stuff is less authentic and grosser than when country music does it. The Jay-Z and Britney namedropping seems off — two past-their-prime giants emblematic of a mythical musical consensus past. But if this pop song about pop songs doesn’t quite manage to be a brilliant and ubiquitous cultural uniter, it understands and aspires to pop universalism — a worthy goal if ever there was one. And when the chorus drops, I almost want to Party in the USA too.

Ian Mathers: The Jay-Z/Britney references manage to play as winking nods to critics/pop-lovers and unselfconscious expressions of fandom simultaneously, which is a neat trick. But they also highlight what’s unsatisfying about “Party in the USA,” namely that this is a song that’s a lot more fun and interesting to theorize about (see, it’s about how we still have a monoculture!) or parse (the “memos/stillettos” part sounds like Akon!) than it is to listen to. A decent chorus would be a good first step to fixing that.

Alfred Soto: Miley’s voice is too nasal for me, but the clipped guitars (more Weezer-esque than Weezer’s capable of lately) match the clever Jay-Z and Britney references. She’s like the smart aleck invited to her first cool kids party trying to keep her distance.

Jonathan Bradley: The set-up is obviously and probably purposefully absurd: Cyrus has not been a clueless hick fresh outta Tennessee in a long time, if ever, and I’m sure even Southern girls know how to get dolled up for a night out on the town without attracting too many stares. But the scripted nature of the story puts the focus on Cyrus’s small moments and minor triumphs, preventing the narrative from devolving into an alienating life and times of the rich and famous fable. The weightless relief in Cyrus’s voice when she describes “put[ting her] hands up” because the DJ is “playing [her] song” is so commonplace and relatable that it belongs equally to a singer on the radio as it does to those of us listening at home in our bedrooms.

Jordan Sargent: With “The Climb” and “Hoedown Throwdown”, Miley was curiously on her way towards a sort of self-directed irrelevance. Both singles were major hits, of course, but her move towards teen-country had only placed her directly in the shadow of the towering presence that is Taylor Swift. This was magnified most at last year’s Grammys, when Miley guested on Taylor’s own “Fifteen”; though it was a nice performance and a sensical pairing, it seemed a bit odd that Hannah Montana was ceding turf in the war to control her maturing audience. Politically, “Party in the USA” doesn’t do much to wrestle the throne away from Taylor, but it does posit Miley back where she belongs: as the hairbrush-in-the-mirror party music for teen girls who find Demi a bit too punk and Rihanna a bit too out of touch. “Party in the USA”, though, is able to transcend teenpop trappings. It’s a true out-and-out banger, the sort of massive, stomping, attention-demanding single that we haven’t seen since Pink’s “So What”. The only thing it leaves up for debate is what Miley’s favorite Jay-Z song is.

Hillary Brown: While I still think Miley can do better (she’s got a more powerful and interesting voice than 95% of the pop starlets out there), this is an intriguing and catchy choice of tunes, with a Nashville message but not a Nashville sound. I guess it’s about crossover hits while also serving as one. And it’s kinda cute.

Additional Scores

Pete Baran: [4]
Chris Boeckmann: [9]
Michaelangelo Matos: [2]
Martin Skidmore: [8]

32 Responses to “Miley Cyrus – Party in the USA”

  1. in the era of Clear Channel, it’s even more possible than ever to hear the same Jay-Z song on the radio in L.A. as you heard yesterday in Nashville

    Maybe — but how many people actually listen to the radio in their cars anymore? Is it less now than it used to be? Does anyone actually have stats on it? (I’m genuinely curious — I think I asked the same question re: the last Linkin Park single.)

  2. Anyway, I don’t think this song is very monocultural at all — Miley is the poster child of niche stardom that benefits from lowered sales expectations, and she still hasn’t figured out her exit strategy from Disney (this track isn’t helping). I’m guessing Taylor Swift is a happy accident (if you like her), a fluke of a star.

  3. You are all nuts. This is garbage.

  4. great blurb, dave

  5. I’m with Matos, I only gave it a four out of a sense of Disney indoctrination and a fear that Wolverine might come round and be the best at what he does bub at my house.

  6. Jordan S, we should go hairbrush shopping some time.

  7. It is garbage (I like plenty of garbage), but I bumped my score up a point because it’s been stuck in my head for about a month now.

    Jordan, I’m just relieved I can stop making that joke. But yeah, she could have at least thrown us a self-reference. “HELLO I AM MILEY CYRUS AND I HAVE JUST WALKED INTO YOUR LITTLE DANCE CLUB HERE. WORSHIP ME.”

  8. I don’t get why you guys are so hung up on the factually insincere nature of the song. It seems like looking to Miley for authenticity is more than a little misguided. I prefer to see this from the “ameliorative power of music” side, but acknowledge that it’s almost more fun to talk about than it is to listen to. The best Disney track since “Come Clean”, though, easily.

  9. I’m disappointed that Chuck Eddy didn’t blurb this and pretend to be surprised that it’s not a Jonathan Richman cover.

  10. I can only name maybe four or five Jonathan Richman songs off the top of my head, truth be told. And I don’t know when I’ve ever “pretended” to be “surprised” about anything like that; if people can’t see humor in songs sharing titles, that’s their loss. Anyway, I’m on hiatus from having Singles Jukebox opinions until my laptop gets serviced. But when I listened to this song a month or so ago, I probably would have given it a 6 or so. And the only other things I have to say are (1) I actually listen to music on my car radio more now than I have in the past decade (when I was living in New York and not driving much), though I’m not sure whether that adds up to a trend; and (2) I generally don’t find county’s “urban/ rural class stuff” gross. But sometimes I understand why other people do.

  11. The best Disney track since “Come Clean”, though, easily.

    No way, Miley herself, generally an inconsistent artist to say the least, has at least three songs that are much much better than this — “See You Again” is up there with “Come Clean,” and below that are “Fly on the Wall” and “East Northumberland High.” A few of her others are still better than this one.

  12. Twenty better non-Miley Disney tracks since “Come Clean”:
    Vanessa Hudgens – “Don’t Talk”
    Vanessa Hudgens – “Say OK”
    Vanessa Hudgens – “First Bad Habit”
    Aly and AJ – “Rush”
    Aly and AJ – “Potential Break-Up Song”
    Aly and AJ – “Bullseye”
    Aly and AJ – “Not This Year”
    Aly and AJ – “Blush”
    Jordan Pruitt – “Teenager”
    Jordan Pruitt – “I’m Gone”
    Demi Lovato – “La La Land”
    Demi Lovato – “Get Back”
    Demi Lovato – “Trainwreck”
    Demi Lovato – “Every Time You Lie”
    Ashley Tisdale – “Not Like That” (not strictly Disney, since it’s on Warner)
    Hilary Duff – “Happy”
    Hilary Duff – “Play with Fire”
    Hilary Duff – “Dignity”
    Jonas Brothers – “Mandy”
    Jesse McCartney – “How Do You Sleep”

  13. “I generally don’t find county’s “urban/ rural class stuff” gross.”

    Sorry, Chuck. Gross was the wrong word. I need to parse my blurbs better. When done properly and genuinely, it’s interesting, but more often than not it strikes me as really disingenuous – the equivalent of the bullshit “down with the streets” authenticity that plays out in rap. In the 21st Century, when country superstars are rubbing elbows with Hollywood left and right and their audience is all across the damn country, it’s the faux-naivete of “I sure as heck don’t understand what’s up with all this weird urban behaviour and funny stillettos etc.” is unnecessary, ESPECIALLY in a song that name-drops Jay-Z, but no less in any of the country tunes we’ve reviewed that have pulled the same shtick.

  14. I’m not sure what country tunes we’ve reviewed lately that resort to that schtick, to be honest, though maybe there’s one I’m just not thinking of. Actually, though, after I wrote that, I realized I wasn’t even sure what “urban/rural class stuff” you were referring to. What [i]is[/i] gross, sometimes, is the “we don’t have to lock our doors out here in small town Real America like they do in the dangerous big city” BS (or even “if Jesus walked the world today he’d walk a small town,” or however Alan Jackson put it last year), a fairly pervasive theme in Nashville songwriting for the past decade. (Though if Montgomery Gentry’s “she changed her tune to that hip-hop mess” in 2001’s “She Couldn’t Change Me” is gross, which it might well be, that doesn’t mean it’s not also powerful.)

  15. Just joshing around, dude.

  16. hahaha I was totally hoping this was a Jonathan Richman cover, too

  17. Hell, when even a curmudgeon like me can agree that some of the songs on Dave’s list are better than this (“Say OK” is an 8/9 easy), he probably has a point.

    I thought I gave this a bit of a lower mark, and certainly I think my blurb is more of a 4 or even a three, but ehh. We all have brain farts, and I suppose I was feeling generous that day. I do hate Miley’s voice, though.

  18. Dave, what would I have to do to get you to send me that mixtape?

  19. Ha, just email me, dmoore1 (at) gmail (dot) com. I’ll even throw in some “Chicken” Corbin Bleu.

  20. Yer on.

  21. Jordan: The only thing it leaves up for debate is what Miley’s favorite Jay-Z song is.
    I reckon it’s “Dirt Off Your Shoulder.” The Britney one… “Piece of Me,” maybe?

  22. Probably “99 Problems” and “If U Seek Amy” both of which she prob finds hilarious.

  23. […] Comment Florence and the Machine – Drumming Song [8] Ellie Goulding – Starry Eyed [10] Miley Cyrus – Party in the USA [7] Alexandra Burke ft. Flo Rida – Bad Boys [7] Owl City – Fireflies [7] Martin Solveig […]


  25. Metal Mike Saunders, a convert to this song after hearing this on his favorite Baltimore Top 40 station:

    Party In The USA/dr lukeMylie is actually starting to sound real good now that i’m hearing it on the WMMX! on first hearing back whenever i was all in the hater zone, like “jesus Luke/Max what the fuck’s wrong with you guys. did the O-Town dorkbo steal Luke’s brain cells three years ago?”

    oddly enough it’s the vocal (and vocs sound) that puts the song over as a radio hit, i am starting to think. it sounds like someone enthusiastically reading the words off a lyric sheet — the Britney method! i do believe all 70’s “rock writers” will verify me on that fact that this was THE ABBA METHOD OF STUDIO VOCAL GREATENESS. don’t understand a word you’re singing, just make those words sound cool!


  27. I personally think as a youth today Miley Cyrus’ songs are shameless, and some of them are inappropriate, the song is catchy but its not an instant classic, in my oppinion Miley Cyrus has been crafted to be fit for stardom ever since she was born, after her fathers 1 hit wonder success. She constantly is playing the “Nashville” or “Tennesse” card as is her father, and what I ean by that is every thing they say or do mentions their FORMER home, which they lived in like 10 years ago. I agree with Chuck on this one here “THE ABBA METHOD OF STUDIO VOCAL GREATENESS. don’t understand a word you’re singing, just make those words sound cool!”

  28. You are all mostly asswipes cuz this is THE SONG of 2009…it rocks and gets you singing along and Miley is super-plugged into what teens want and like. Miley is the leader of untold millions of youth around the world!!

  29. The Singles Jukebox: All Mostly Asswipes… since 2009

  30. “super-plugged into what teens want and like”!!!!!!!!!

  31. wat up gurl when can i have a party at your house

  32. Hey, is it OK to wonder if jojo above is also covering Jonathan Richman?