Was? Pop rock? In 2020? Why? And then also “pop rock for the radio”, not, as is at best contemporary, for the Eastern European drug cellar, the South Korean electric scooter garage or at least as an accompaniment to the iPhone video game while jogging.
Anyone who takes the word “direction” seriously in the term “music direction” has long known that pop rock means “in the back”. Names like “Billy Idol” and “Joan Jett” sound like “uncle” and “aunt” today. But Miley Cyrus, not even thirty years old, invites these two to her new record “Plastic Hearts” with the sharpest mischief, as if nothing were more appropriate than that. Well, Dua Lipa is there too, for the little ones, but her guest appearance in the piece “Prisoner” sounds rather boring, albeit in a decadent, so to speak perfumed French way, let’s say: “boring”; not entirely without charm. The hostess, meanwhile, dips every number, every visit into her enigmatic dark voice, palatable like warm olive oil, and sings of “mah frustration” to eighties bass gummi that sounds as if Blondie are back, but this time with one instead of Debbie Harry white-feathered owl on the microphone.
Eighties? When the cinema director Nicolas Winding Refn makes something like that as a film and calls it “Drive” (2011), then all hipsters fall nuts, but with Miley Cyrus they don’t get it and only hear “eclecticism” instead of the black smoke in their stomach who turns memories (of the individual as well as of mass culture) into exactly the kind of energy that is necessary to confront the present, but not obdurately grumbling “Everything was better in the past” (it helps, of course, if one reaches for a past that one has never experienced (see above: Miley Cyrus is twenty-eight years old).
“Charming” as an adjective fits a lot on the record: What is the funny clap of the paws in the title song, are they really church mice? Ms. Cyrus can play three hundred thousand instruments and, as the beginning of the ballad “Angels Like You” shows, hum so finely that nobody has hummed since David Bowie briefly forgot the lyrics on the soundtrack of “Cat People” (1982) .
Finally, in the middle of the record, Kermit the frog chases Billy Idol to the ramp, the number is called “Night Crawling”, and Grandpa sings, winningly sexy, “Sometimes my thoughts are violent”, the last word means both “violent” and “passionate”, and Grandpa has looked surprisingly splendid, perhaps using the drying process. In the background a bazooka shoots with cream and almond muffins, yes: pop rock. The advance single “Midnight Sky” is passably funky (in the sense of: Giorgio Moroder likes to sneeze), and two tracks later comes the biggest one: “Bad Karma” with Joan Jett, “you’re thinking that I’m sleeping when I ‘m creeping in the night “. The word “duet” is far too common for this galactic twosome, but “DuJett” would be silly, so maybe: Mistress evening? Lady dragon sighs with long pink fingernails? In any case, the song of the year, in three minutes, no longer does art have to be, no matter what the many sick people believe, who today no longer comfort themselves in the studio below the contractually guaranteed Wagner opera length. In the midst of so much flavor and finesse, the age-old question remains: What does the artist mean by this? “Plastic Hearts” is initially the living bridge between the Runaways on the one hand (Joan Jett’s best phase) and the complete works of Miley Cyrus’ godmother Dolly Parton on the other. Instead of opting for one genre each (country pop for Parton, pop rock for Jett) like these role models, the younger one has been depicting “Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz” (2015), at least since her collaboration with the Flaming Lips, which was crowned with lotus flowers the idea “the plumper the menu, the more picky the taste”. In other words: Greedy archive access paradoxically vouches for the individuality of the author’s expression stolen from it, a common ear nourishes a special voice, in short, Miley does what Madonna did between around 1990 and 2010, but with the life-threatening difference for the work that that actually doesn’t work anymore; the times are over.
Plastic hearts last longer
Miley Cyrus already knows. Ha, says her dirty laugh all the time, since she happily outgrown her “Hannah Montana” beginnings and an intermittent porn chick masquerade, listen up, old people, my generation has inherited nothing from you but old rubbish, bad karma, but one that does love like a moth-eaten cuddly toy. Madonna’s record industry still had huge budgets for productions, and Madonna’s fans had enough money to collect maxi-CDs. Ms. Cyrus’ age group, however, cannot be splendid. What to do?
To whistle in the dark with an extremely topical metaphor: For Miley Cyrus, the pop luxury foods of the past are vaccines against what happened to this past – pop music as a whole, not just pop rock, is “behind” as a lifestyle. It was about the attempt to feed the cultural work of all kinds of minorities (ethnic, sexual, etc.) into the social mobility of daughters and sons of the so-called middle class in rich countries and perhaps pave the way for one or the other ingenious fringe existence to the center of world attention . This game is over, but so far there is no new one that would work as well as an amalgamation of euphoria, socialization, comfort and dreams. One thing is certain: plastic hearts last longer. Maybe a nightingale is sleeping sweetly inside and dreaming of love to the weirdest possible music, until winter finally runs away again.