Tuesday, September 3rd, 2019

Miley Cyrus – Slide Away

Baby let all them voices slide away-e-yay-e-ay-e-yay [massive wall of sound appears]


Jackie Powell: “Slide Away” might be Miley Cyrus’s most focused song since “Wrecking Ball,” but it also represents so much more than just similar lyrical themes. It illustrates her evolution as an artist and a queer human being. Cyrus was trying to fit in a box with both that 2013 music video and her very short hair. In 2019, she’s wearing black in her VMA performance of “Slide Away” with her wavy dirty blonde hair. She’s no longer embarrassed to wear a cowboy hat nor is she shoving her love of women down our throats. We all just know that this is who she is. Her desire is to be herself, but she also craves substance and quality over just plain erraticism. She doesn’t want to be milquetoast. “Slide Away” also proves that Cyrus understands which collaborators allow her to shine. I was pleasantly surprised by MikeWillMadeIt’s involvement on this track. I didn’t think he had the potential to contribute something so subtle yet fruitful. Cyrus has found her match with Andrew Wyatt. Alma has also assisted on this one as with “Mother’s Daughter” without taking the song away from its artist. This combination just works. “Slide Away” is a breakup song about not only letting go of someone but Cyrus liberating herself simultaneously. She doesn’t drown in sadness but rather rises and reflects gracefully. She did this purposely.

Tobi Tella: Refreshingly mature and grounded, it’s always nice to hear a Miley Cyrus song without the forced guise of The Music I’ve Always Wanted To Make. It’s a meandering, repetitive song and while that’s normally something to criticize, here it’s just another addition to the sullen, mellow vibe. It lacks the theatrics of something like “Wrecking Ball” because that’s not where she or the relationship is. People grow up, grow apart and stop being compatible. Despite not feeling the need to announce it, it’s the first time I’ve been able to feel real artistic growth from her.

Pedro João Santos: It’s alright. The sound is translucent; the words distribute the overbearing weight of a breakup between mature avowals and trite metaphors. Aside from poor hooks and metrics, “Slide Away” is full of gaps, which is not counting that crystalline outro. You’re free (even encouraged) to fill those in — second-hand People literature and even Cyrus’s recent tell-all Twitter thread are not just supplemental gossip, they charge the anodyne lyrics with meaning. The VMAs rendition is gaining traction for a reason: it taps onto something rawer — not sure whether in spite of, or due to the vocal strain. Perhaps the latter is more enchanting as a natural flaw, unlike the studio version’s disconcerting vocal treatment — the stinging, affected “won’t you slide away” parts awake you from even trying to indulge in its vibey, patched nature. Can’t let this one slide.

Scott Mildenhall: Hackneyed as it may be to call something like this “raw,” there is a particular rawness to that call to “move on,” both for its surface-level sting and the pain it belies. It’s the pretence of greater control — I’m fine, you’re not and I can affect superiority with that lie. It’s a front that brings extra texture to a desperate bask in angst for which the tone is struck just right; so right that it’s more of a mood piece than something that would jump out of the radio.

Kylo Nocom: I wish I loved this, but every one of my qualms feels so damn fixable that I can’t even bother to like this. The pre-chorus’s piano presets are ugly and out of place, those constant pitchy distorted moans are like nails on a chalkboard, and the fact that the song ends on the weak pre-chorus and a full minute of meandering strings is confusing. All of these make that sun bleached chorus of alternating shouts and swoons sound so much better, and for the briefest moments I can feel immersed in Miley’s pop psychedelia. Unfortunately, moments aren’t enough to make “Slide Away” sound like anything revelatory, or even just a simple return to form.

Alfred Soto: Her voice starchier, Miley Cyrus sings country lyrics over a basic chord pattern, mourning the collapse of something or other. Her ability to personalize any genre into which she chooses to insert herself remains impressive as gesture.

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: Miley’s music has always sounded very calculated, but I’ve never quite had a grip on who she genuinely is as an artist. This isn’t to take anything away from her creative agency, but rather to say that, as opposed to a Lady Gaga or Beyoncé who can proactively bend pop’s trends to their will, Miley’s constant persona changes seem mostly reactionary: the Hannah Montana era was curated by Disney, Can’t Be Tamed was built to disown the show, Bangerz attempted to ride the waves of hip-hop’s popularity and Younger Now shed blackness in favor of country-lite during the Trump era when early 2010s pop was dying and pop stars were appealing to authenticity. (Note: I refuse to acknowledge Her Dead Petz.) Even her most recent work follows this pattern: the SHE IS COMING EP’s excessive vulgarity felt like another reaction to the underwhelming fan reaction to Younger Now‘s mellower tones. It’s interesting then, that post-starring in a Black Mirror episode satirising the process of pop music creation, that she released “Slide Away,” the most at home she’s ever sounded singing anything. There’s nothing gimmicky here, just an honest reflection about her life and career, sung compellingly. It’s full of songwriting gems: the subtle inflection of her past being both a “paradise” despite feeling “paralyzed”; the 180 from life being “made for us” to being “turned to dust”; and the tender assuredness with which she sings “It’s time to let it go.” Never has she crafted her own narrative so simply or so powerfully. Over and over again she sings, “I’m not who I used to be,” reflecting on her persona rather than labouring to create a new one. Finally, she sounds at peace as an artist. 

Reader average: [9] (1 vote)

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10 Responses to “Miley Cyrus – Slide Away”

  1. Extremely good subhead and great writing all around.

  2. just googled what “milquetoast” means and it’s my new fav word

  3. There are so many things to h a t e about this song; from the eyyy before the first verse and the diluted, wannabe trap beat, so much of the song feels disjointed, a cluttered hodgepodge of ideas that never come together to form the “sea” that Cyrus actually yearns for. Yet somehow, beneath all that surface muck, the nostalgia trapped within those hazy guitar chords, the hope in those smiling piano arpeggios, totters on redeeming. Of course, that doesn’t excuse the other sins (random, operatic oooh’s anyone?), but it saves it from a [5] and gives it a [6].

  4. Just want to say that I appreciate all of your comments, please never stop.

  5. Okay, so you know all those moments when you see someone wave at you at school, at work, or at in the why-the-hell-am-seeing-someone-I-know-out-in-PUBLIC streets, but you don’t really know if they’re waving at you or someone behind you, so you do that little half-wave? and point to yourself while nodding in disbelief to see if you are, in fact, the person they are waving to? Yea, I didn’t know that could happen online until now because I’m QUITE confused and socially inept…so Joshua, is that comment…for me?

  6. Austin I was talking about you, yes! I legitimately and sincerely appreciate all your comments and look forward to reading them when I see your name on the sidebar.

  7. Thank you for your kind words and for encouraging me Joshua :) That’s the only thing I can think of to say because I still don’t know how to take a compliment!

  8. is this the same Austin or are there two Austin Ns in the TSJ/OWOB orbit

  9. MY APOLOGIES, Jessica! I never saw your comment, but YES! This is the same Austin/Austin N who writes Major Cringe Content in the TSJ/OWOB orbit. In other news though, I just came here because I don’t have a Twitter and wanted to say @Joshua (Kim), I simultaneously and endearingly hate-love your “Fetch The Bolt Cutters” bracket :)

  10. And I thought my situation with Joshua’s comment was bad….as Sky Ferreira once said (and said truly), “everything is embarrassing.”