Our favorite things this week live in the shadow of Miley's tongue and foam finger - for the most part.
Miley and Bradley: One of the beauties of the Internet is its immediacy. It's possible for someone with minimal skills and limited access to conventional media to join a national conversation as it's happening, and not only on Facebook and Twitter. Last week, Miley Cyrus had barely stuck her ass in the air and played with a foam finger before someone created a new tumblr site, Miley Twerking on Things We Should Talk About. It's a one-joke site, with the same photo of Cyrus tweaking (lamely, I might add) in front of screen grabs of news stories on Bradley Manning, poverty, civil rights, Syrian Civil War, and more. Get past the joke and the posts link to stories that show disturbing exercises of power by America's ruling class.
"Miley Cyrus" and "twerking" are already old outrages and old jokes, so the site likely has a very short shelf life, but that too is part of the beauty of the Internet. Sites like these may end up in the giant closet where the web stores old angelfire tributes to grunge bands and alt-country, but they aren't built with an interest in posterity. (Alex Rawls)
Miley vs. Lorde: The first time I heard Lorde's "Royals," it was juxtaposed against the hangover of Miley Cyrus' VMA performance. That juxtaposition is partially to thank for my latching on to Lorde's smash hit, albeit a few months late to the party. But that timing was key. Friends had told me months prior that I'd like what the 16-year-old girl from New Zealand, real name Ella Yelich-O'Connor, had to offer. If I had heeded their advice, I'm sure I still would've enjoyed "Royals," but its introduction among the ever-tightening noose of pop culture think-pieces regarding Cyrus' "art" was revitalizing. I even enjoyed Cyrus' "We Can't Stop" before that fateful night, mainly because it was the only Top 40 radio song I had heard in months that didn't make me switch the station immediately. But where Cyrus' summery slow burner is crass, over-produced and clichéd, Lorde, the first female to top Billboard's alternative singles chart in 17 years, offers some brain and some heart. A wordy blurb under her YouTube video for "Royals" is particularly interesting:
i guess what i tried to do is make something you could understand. a lot of people think teenagers live in this world like "skins" every weekend or whatever, but truth is, half the time we aren't doing anything cooler than playing with lighters, or waiting at some shitty stop. that's why this had to be real …
Lorde's honest, simple statement adds a dimension to "Royals"'s simple songwriting. For once, it's a voice from a generation of high schools kids - whose popular music grows congruently with a non-stop drug culture - reminding you she's still just a teenager. They go to parties and loiter at train stops like typical ne'er-do-wells, but life is not the rave scene painted in songs like Cyrus'. Lorde isn't condemning a lifestyle; she's simply saying it's not the same for her and her friends. It helps that Lorde has already built up an impressive pop catalog, showing more similarities to neo-R&B singers like Jesse Ware than her mainstream counterparts she sits beside on the charts. In nearly a year, Lorde has become a promising and prominent voice in pop, and so far, she's been earnest. (Brian Sibile)
Miley Stole My iPod (well, someone did):Since the recent theft of my iPod, I’ve been banking on satellite radio to keep me entertained during commutes to work and school, and those regretful late night trips to Taco Bell. By far, one of my favorite stations is Backspin, the Sirius XM satellite radio's '90s hip-hop station. So far, it has yet to let me down, playing hits and deep tracks. Tracks from Souls of Mischief, A Tribe Called Quest, Public Enemy, De La Soul, Wu-Tang Clan, and Dr. Dre dominate, along with fantastic lesser-known jams that have quickly become some of my favorite songs.
The '90s was arguably the most important era for hip-hop, fostering new styles and innovations. The sampling wasn’t as lazy, lyrics were often more complex with a focus on storytelling, and there seemed to be more excitement in the music itself. If nothing else, "Backspin" revisits the era when hip-hop became a dominant commercial and cultural sound. (Will Halnon)