Miley Cyrus is rediscovering herself—sound wise, looks wise, spiritually—by basically going back to the old Miley Cyrus. She’s sober and folksy and likes the water, and she’s allegedly given up smoking weed. This is the video for her new love song “Malibu.”
In a Billboard cover story, Miley described her next album (out later this year) as a retreading of her country roots and a return to basics. She’s no longer doing hip-hop. But the reason she still appreciates rappers like Kendrick Lamar is “because it’s not ‘Come sit on my dick, suck on my cock,” which is the type of wild rap she’s since outgrown. “I am so not that,” she said. (Miley later corrected herself, saying she loves everybody.) What most of us got out of her Billboard profile is that, in the process of evolving, she’s grossly discarded the complicated portions of hip-hop she once gluttonously brandished, and done so under the guise of reinvention. It’s a convenient redirection reshaped as artistic evolution and this song isn’t even good.
Who Miley Cyrus is choosing to be at 24, post-rap and post-rock (Dead Petz), is the old Miley Cyrus. Rolling Stone describes “Malibu” as a “stripped-down song that “boasts a plucky guitar vamp and steady thumping drums that buoy Cyrus’ simple vocals and lovestruck lyrics.” Jezebel describes “Malibu” as dull, with a video wherein Miley plays a pensive garden child who’s only high off life. “It’s a brand-new start/ A dream come true in Malibu,” she sings. She wrote the song for her fiancé Liam Hemsworth. “This is Miley leaning into her roots more than I’ve ever heard,” her dad Billy Ray Cyrus told Billboard. “For her, this is honest.”
Maybe this direction would be fine (personal growth is cool), if not for the reasons and explanations behind it. Miley has dreams of unifying America through her music and felt she couldn’t achieve this goal with her previous identity, which involved twerking, nipples and dressing as Nicki Minaj. She’s admittedly toned down in order to appeal to country fans and people who voted for Trump, and has no problem saying so. “I like talking to people that don’t agree with me, but I don’t think I can do that in an aggressive way,” she told Billboard. “I don’t think those people are going to listen to me when I’m sitting there in nipple pasties, you know?” The new Miley wants bigots to listen to her, sounds not unlike a Fox correspondent, and believes we can love our way out of this. “And it’s not because I want to sell records!” she insists.
This version of Miley says she still doesn’t give a fuck—except when it comes to the people who were hurt by her nipple pasties. She has to give some fucks. “Right now is not a time to not give a fuck about people,” she said. “I’m giving the world a hug and saying, ‘Hey, look. We’re good – I love you.’ And I hope you can say you love me back.”