Why Is Miley's New Song So Shocking?

Bizarre, yes. But is it really that outrageous?

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Rex Features

So, Miley Cyrus has a new song. It’s not a new single, surrounded by Wrecking Ball levels of hype and promo junkets. It’s a fairly unremarkable piano-based ditty called The Twinkle Song. A song ‘I’ve only played before in my living room’, which she tried out during a private performance at the Art Basel festival this week. It’s about a dead cat. And – just for a change – it’s caused her to her come in for a panning on the internet.

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And it IS unusual, we’ll give you that. Wearing a silver tinsel wig, what looked like a mankini and sparkly leggings, Miley’s performance was hardly the stuff of her polished Hannah Montana days. Talking rapidly into the mic, she explained she had been inspired ‘by my friend’s dead cat’, which had visited her ‘in crazy dreams the night the cat died, so I feel like her cat kinda told me what I should say to her to get her through it’. Then, sitting at a tinsel-strewn piano, she hesitantly plinky-plonked through the ballad, which opens with the somewhat unconventional line ‘I had a dream, David Bowie taught us all to skateboard, but he was shaped like Gumby’. Uh huh. See it for yourself below.

Not exactly a legendary rock performance in the making. But let’s face it, we’ve all been subjected to worse when made to listen to the demos of guitar-playing exes/bands of student friends. And it was, y’know, a PRIVATE performance.

But that didn’t stop the online assertions that it’s further proof of a woman off the rails.‘We're not sure if she's started having Messiah-like visions or needs to stop going foraging for mushrooms in the woods without an appropriate guide,’ wrote one site. While another simply settled for: ‘It’s batsh*t crazy’.

Of course, post-twerkgate, taking a pop at Miley is easier than shooting long-dead fish in a very small barrel at point-blank range. And we’re not saying that her behaviour isn’t unpredictable, her costumes aren’t scanty, or that its not possible that these lyrics are inspired by mushrooms not on sale over the counter at Tesco. What we’re saying is, um, so?

Let’s take very brief look back at some rock history. The Beatles wrote ‘I am the eggman, they are the eggmen, I am the walrus’. David Bowie sang that Ziggy Stardust was 'jiving us that we were voodoo'. More recently, we have Noel Gallagher 'slowly walking down the hall, faster than a cannonball'. And as for bad behaviour? Each has spoken openly about their hard-living days. And yet they are national treasures, one and all. More’s to the point: they are men, one and all. Hell, even Pete Doherty is referred to with mild derision as opposed to outright disapproval nowadays.

But the narrative on the female side? Janis Joplin: tragic victim of addiction. Britney Spears: car crash. Rihanna: out-of-control party girl.

And now Miley. It’s true that with our blanket-coverage, pap-all-areas access to today’s stars, there’s a lot more scope for tutting, mocking and shaming of celebrities. But a lot of it does seem to be dumped at the door of women – especially those who deviate from the X Factor template. The archetype of the fallen woman, writ large by rolling news feeds. 

We’re not endorsing anything Miley may or may not be doing – we’re just saying, why is it different to anything male musicians may or may not have done? While we never expected to write a sentence comparing Miley Cyrus to The Beatles, in terms of being ‘batsh*t crazy’, the lyrics to The Twinkle Song are no different to I Am The Walrus. Coo coo ca choo.

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