You know, on some level… didn’t we all see this coming?
Okay, maybe not everybody, but when I saw people genuinely surprised that Miley Cyrus was returning to country music – note the word ‘return’, that’s going to be important here – I just had to sigh and shake my head. Right from the very beginning Miley has always played as the L.A. outsider from Nashville – hell, it’s the entire premise behind ‘Party In The USA’ – and with her thicker accent and twang inherited from her country singer father Billy Ray Cyrus, there was a part of me that deep down knew a country pivot was coming.
Granted, if you consider her career over the past decade I can see why some might not have expected it, from electro-pop at the beginning of the club boom to the awkward trap sounds of 2013, a year where her fame was at its unsteady peak, all the way to the nightmarish mess of psychedelia that plagued her disaster of a 2015 record Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz. Because there were some consistent throughlines – reckless provocation without much weighty content to back it up, production that tried and mostly failed to support her, and in her trap-leaning years an approach to hip-hop that all kinds of tasteless and raised some ugly questions about white pop stars pilfering black culture. And now that she got all the partying out of her system, she can leave that job for Post Malone and go back home to a nice, safe, whitebread sound. And as such, I had very little interest in this: if I wanted a pop star dabbling in country I’d stick with Kesha, who at least seemed to care about her art and who I could easily see fitting with those experimenting in the genre, whereas a disheartened Miley after the election last year was claiming she could reach out to a conservative demographic with this new image and genre shift. Now there are all sorts of problems with the assertion without even getting into the optics, but all of it would be irrelevant if we didn’t talk about the music, so what did I find on Younger Now?