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WHY THE WORLD NEEDS MILEY: AN OPEN LETTER TO THE HATERS

“Yeah, I smoke pot, yeah, I love peace, but I don't give a fuck; I ain't no hippie.” That’s the opening line of Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz—the experimental, psychedelic album the beloved chameleon known as Miley dropped in 2015.

2015 was also the year she launched her charity for LGBTQ and homeless youth, the Happy Hippie Foundation. You see the contradiction. But isn’t that the point? Miley is just that—a walking contradiction. She’s defined by her very inability to be categorized and put in a so-called box. For example, the ganja enthusiast, who can apparently “smoke more weed in one week than most rappers,” according to producer Mike Will Made-It, is currently living a substance-free lifestyle. That’s not to say she’s in treatment or now against marijuana. It was just time for a fresh mental state, a new perspective. See, Miley doesn’t do things for any other reason than to do what’s right for her at that time. And she doesn’t let labels hold her back, in her music and her personal life for that matter; she sees herself as a pansexual, or someone who’s “not limited in sexual choice with regard to biological sex, gender, or gender identity.“

If I wasn’t so against labeling artists at the moment, I’d say her methods are actually quite punk rock, but then I’d be shooting myself in the foot, wouldn’t I?

It’s this fearlessness for the sake of self-exploration, connectivity, truth and art that may very well solidify Miley as the greatest creative of our generation. “Sing about love, love is what you need… loving what you sing, and loving smoking weed. Sing about peace, being high and free. So, if you don't give a fuck, sing along with me,” she continues on the aforementioned opening track, “Dooo It!,” before begging the question, “Why are bitches bored?”


Maybe bitches are bored because celebrities (and plain, ol’ socially aware human beings, if we’re being real) are encouraged to play the game, stay in their lane, stick to their vein. Who else would do (or could do) what Miley has? I’ll give you Gaga (who can go from a Tony Bennett duet to a Metallica stage in an effortless heartbeat), but for the most part, radio is homogenized, and the public is scared of change. Other pop stars cut off their hair, tat themselves up and/or go out on a limb to make newfound political/social statements and the world freaks out. Miley does the same and it’s just another day of the week.

Maybe it’s her authenticity; you know she’s not just doing this shit as a gimmick to sell albums. Maybe it’s her chutzpah. Maybe she’s an alien. Who knows? Who cares? My point: Let her be. Right now, our divided society needs nothing more than a little Miley and the notions of freedom and solidarity that come as part of her package.


To rewind, Miley rose to notoriety as the star of a Disney Channel show and gracefully transitioned into pop stardom (2009’s “Party in the U.S.A.” is now seven-times platinum, making it bigger than the #1 song at iTunes that year, The Black Eyed Peas’ “Boom Boom Pow”). 2010 brought the aptly titled Can’t Be Tamed, which still portrayed her as a midriff-top wearing (yet very successful and convincing) pop princess, and then in 2011, the last episode of Hannah Montana aired. The first iteration of her stripped-down, acoustic Backyard Sessions (presented in sunlit, grassy videos on YouTube) came shortly thereafter, a well-timed move that proved her vocal prowess and maturity with covers of heartstring-tugging classics “Lilac Wine,” “Look What They’ve Done to My Song” and “Jolene.” “Lilac Wine” was penned by James Shelton in 1950, lifted by Nina Simone, popularized by Jeff Buckley as a part of his career-defining Grace and has been covered by an array of greats, and yes, Miley freakin’ Cyrus still nails it. From her delivery of the opening line, “I lost myself on a cool damp night,” which she dishes out in a manner that’s both chilling and warm, soft yet direct, to the strength of her howl on the question, “Where is my love?,” Miley touches her listener. That’s what she does. She climbs into your ear, finds her way to the emotional part of your brain and gives it a squeeze. The way her voice dances and grows on a ballad is truly stunning. The dazzler knows precisely when to tremble and precisely when to punch, and that sentiment rings true on her rendition of "Jolene" as well, but I digress…

In 2013, she hired longtime rep of Britney Spears, Larry
Rudolph
, as her manager, before shocking everyone with a brand-new (and quite controversial) image that metaphorically beat Hannah Montana to a bloody pulp. If this pissed you off at the time, you can fuck off. This turning point was necessary for the public to view her as her own entity.

Miley embraced a hip-hop sound and teamed up with Mike Will
Made-It and Pharrell for the sexy and frankly in-your-face Bangerz. She was also featured on myriad hip-hop singles that year (Snoop Lion’s “Ashtrays and Heartbreaks,” will.i.am’s “Fall Down,” Mike Will f/Wiz Khalifa & Juicy J’s “23,” Future’s “Real and True”). This was the year of twerking, tongue-wagging and Thicke-gate, and potentially when the masses began to believe that child stardom had taken its toll and caused her to crack. (No way. She was just “being Miley.”)

Maybe it was the immense pot-smoking that seemed to enter her life around the same time as hip-hop that led her to psychedelia as a culture. Segue to Wayne Coyne—the Flaming Lips eccentric, who befriended Cyrus at a crucial time and nurtured her “Fweaky” side. Whatever the reason was for this era, we as consumers should be thankful for it. Call Dead Petz what you will; you can’t argue that it isn’t honest. Really, Bangerz made her relevant to the 18-25 demo, Dead Petz made her cool and "Malibu," the just-released single, makes her approachable. Genre doesn't matter.

Bless Miley the pop princess, Miley the party animal, Miley the hippie, Miley the stoner, Miley the activist and Miley the circus freak, as well as Miley the incredible vocalist, Miley the poet and Miley the heiress of country. Why not let Miley be Miley? Just think how bland your watercooler talk would be without her. Why not allow her, if not praise her, for embracing her singer/songwriter side. It is, after all, at the Tennessee native’s core. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: She’s the daughter of Billy Ray Cyrus and goddaughter of Dolly Parton (and has a tattoo of a signature Johnny Cash gave her that reads "I'm in your corner"), for Christ’s sake. Her father has even said that Waylon Jennings himself, who notably taught a young Miley how to play "Good Hearted Woman," used to give her guitar lessons at the kitchen table.

“Malibu” is a tender love song. It’s lyrically and melodically endearing. The fact that its performer can hang with rappers and acid-takers shouldn’t discredit this musical moment, and it certainly doesn’t in my book. I, for one, eagerly await the album and hope there are even rootsier flavors in store.

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