Tuesday, September 8th, 2020

Miley Cyrus – Midnight Sky

[7] things…


Thomas Inskeep: Hard Stevie Nicks-does-electro-disco vibes here, and I’m here for ’em. Say what you will about Cyrus, but a) she’s rarely if ever boring (and certainly isn’t here), and b) she sings her ass off (and certainly does so here). The minimalism of this track, along with the way Cyrus sells it, grabs me. I’m probably overrating it and don’t care.

Katherine St Asaph: It pains me to give this score, given that her stans are still posting on my Instagram what an ugly bitch I am. (When I die, which they probably think is overdue, I half-expect my grave will be vandalized.) But what else am I supposed to do with this, the midpoint of “Edge of Seventeen” — she stops just short of interpolating the white-winged dove — and “Enjoy the Silence”?

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: Miley sounds the best she’s sounded in years, but there’s not a song here, just a collection of ’80s tropes and vocal affectations. We’re at the point where retro styling isn’t even referring to any particular past anymore, just making vague gestures to Springsteen and Fleetwood Mac and hoping that the synths stick.

Alfred Soto: Our impressions of artists calcify as their turns under klieg lights get familiar. How impressive that Miley Cyrus keeps molting, experimenting with a rasp that steers and stamps an arrangement no matter how retro. As those rote synths flicker, she positions as a pop star who has inherited a history through which she’ll continue to rummage.

Scott Mildenhall: An action movie in miniature, with Miley as the star. As it bubbles along with contained aggression, the self-possession is captivating — but it could do with one or two explosions. The “OOH!”s come closest, but ultimately tantalise.

Juana Giaimo: Many pop artists are going back to disco in 2020, but what sets Miley Cyrus apart is her voice. The music is almost too quiet, but it creates a nocturnal atmosphere that lets her shine. She sounds so raw and straightforward that her voice almost breaks in several parts; the vocal effects, and especially her vocal control, create dynamics that many collaborations don’t achieve. My favorite part is when she goes deep in the “oh no” of the chorus after the bridge.

Jackie Powell: “Slide Away” was a gloomy track, but that’s what was expected from Miley Cyrus’s first song post-divorce. In “Midnight Sky,” she’s moved on from the melancholy to embrace the anger and frustration. The listener doesn’t feel sorry for her anymore, and that’s how she likes it. There’s a swagger in Cyrus’s voice — she’s singing from her gut rather than her throat, which most likely is a result of vocal surgery. Her instrument is different, and it’s allowed her to shapeshift once again. When Cyrus sings “fire in my lungs, can’t bite the devil on my tongue, you know” in the final chorus, it’s not gorgeous-sounding at all. It’s a glottal-fest, but an appropriate one. “Midnight Sky” is a homage to Nicks and Blondie in both their aesthetic and vibe. It’s ironic to listen to a song celebrating independence when COVID makes us feel alone a lot, but I’ll also give credit when it’s due: This record is a bisexual anthem, which is something we need more of.

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: Aside from the self-referential quip from “See You Again,” has there ever been a line that encapsulates the Miley Cyrus ethos as perfectly as “I was born to run/I don’t belong to anyone”? “Midnight Sky” plays to all of Miley’s strengths: It’s spunky, dramatic, rebellious, raspy, tragic, and undeniably pretty. Given how inconsistent (and often problematic) her career has been, it’s heartening to see her end up with something so sturdy and signature-sounding. 

William John: Miley’s long been touted a cultural vulture, and has perhaps been all too keen to toss aside this scavenging in the name of authenticity. It’s been hard sometimes to determine which of the appropriation or the contrition has been more loathsome. But “Midnight Sky” is a single where the only surrounding detritus has been “will it be attached to an album?”, and the laundered tropes are fit for purpose. “Edge of Seventeen,” “In the Air Tonight,” and “Cool for the Summer” by way of “Blinding Lights” and Heart together form the outline of a lane that’s as good for Miley as any. Then somehow “Midnight Sky” transcends that patchwork, first in the verses that skip with an imposing self-assured air, and then — and mostly — through the unyielding hunger in her voice. It’s most prominent in the final chorus, and it’s that moment that seals the deal to make this her best single in more than a decade, and perhaps ever.

Reader average: [6.16] (6 votes)

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2 Responses to “Miley Cyrus – Midnight Sky”

  1. If this is Miley’s first time on the sidebar, I’m glad it’s with this song: belting without plodding, and like “Broken English” was polished with a disco finish.

  2. It just occurred to me this evening that none of us mentioned another, rather obvious reference point: M83.