As Miley Cyrus prepares to release her new album Younger Now, I was reminded of the brilliance of her underrated record Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz. It was easy to blink-and-miss this album as it wasn’t officially released by the singer’s label RCA. The album was a passion project fully-funded by the singer which she chose to release as a free download through SoundCloud. The album did not have any promotional support or even a physical release, in fact, despite being released in 2015, it was just added to music streaming sites this year. So, why is it important to talk about it today? As I watched the brilliant video for Younger Now, the title track from Cyrus’ new album, I started thinking about the reasons why Miley matters to me.
I was a fan of Miley Cyrus ever since her Hannah Montana days. As the singer grew up and declared her independence through a string of girl-gone-wild antics, my fandom slowly faded. Public reception of the singer’s new image was as bad as the president’s approval rating. Many found her new over-sexed, drug-abusing, DGAF persona a bit fabricated to say the least. After a couple ok-received albums, Miley released Bangerz, an excellent pop record. The album was full of pop gems, great lyrics and vocals, that were often overshadowed by the singer’s tongue, her scantily-clad outfits, and questionable (often culturally appropriated) taste. Because of Bangerz, Miley was slowly growing on me again and I was reminded of her talent as an artist. But it wasn’t until the unconventional release of Dead Petz that I truly became a fan.
The album was a psychedelic trip that often talks about sex, drugs, relationships and her dead pets. It was created in collaboration with the Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne and it was unlike anything she had ever done before. With 23 tracks that often feel self-serving and just plain weird or unnecessary, I can understand people’s hesitation towards giving it a chance. So in this article I will try to make you a believer by sharing my ten favorite tracks from the record. Hopefully you enjoy the songs so I don’t have to go back to door-to-door work.
Karen Don’t Be Sad
Karen has been all of us at some point of our lives. In the song, Karen represents a person struggling with the cruelty of the world. The song is a motivational anthem for anyone who’s feeling down. The production is breezy, acoustic, and slightly spacey, which is a recurrent feel in the record. The performance below is so understated you forget Miley’s outfit halfways through the song. Plus, look at Hillary trying to get that young vote. Good times!
The Floyd Song
The song talks about loss and the struggle of getting back on track. More specifically, the underlying expectation of just going back to normal after grief. I’m sure it can be interpreted otherwise, but that’s what I got from it. It is more of a feeling than a song to me.
Something About Space Dude
Another trippy, spacey song but this time it deals with a relationship. The space dude represents a person who is distant but you try to remember why you can’t let go. It felt like an ode to a person who simply wasn’t there.
Probably one of my favorite Miley Cyrus songs ever. It feels whimsical but heartbreaking at the same time. It allows you to feel (or in my case, remember) a time of complete heartbreak and the feelings that overwhelmed you at the moment.
This song is one that I would understand if I can’t get you into. It’s half part the ramblings of a millennial white girl, half poignant song about the different approaches to a relationship that ultimately ends. It can also be a slight parody about the infantilization of women. The video is a literal mess that makes me feel as if I gave too much credit to Cyrus’ approach to the song. Take a look, but remember, you can’t unsee.
Despite my dislike of the spelling of the song title, this is one of my favorite songs on Dead Petz. It is sexy, raw, and real. “It’s been a while since I’ve been with someone else, ‘cuz I just got too good at doing it myself.” It’s a visceral exploration of female sexuality and regrets.
Miley Cyrus’ lower register is mesmerizing. The song is mellow and powerful and I often imagine it in my head as the backing track to my sexy, neo-noir trailer starring Emma Stone. “I’m still standing here forever without sunshine in my mind. Yeah, I’ve been alive but I’ve been a liar.” Her songwriting skills really surprised me in this album.
Any song that references Grace Jones is going to be a winner in my book. A very self-aware song perhaps about the millennial generation. “We all walk around and waste life… There might be a day where everything goes away to remind us how ungrateful our culture is.” Preach Miley, preach!
Pablow The Blowfish
Did I just cry about a blowfish? An emotional eulogy that wraps around 3:30 minutes has the singer cry (literally) about her dead blowfish. It is also a thoughtful plea towards veganism and an overall ode to love. A highlight of the album for sure.
Miley’s raw vocals here give me chills every time. The song adequately plays like a lullaby recounting crazy dream sequences in a way that feels earnest and honest. When she “screams” you can actually hear someone in pain. The performance below is far from perfect but her emotion and her strained screams speak to my soul.
At 92 minutes Dead Petz could’ve really used some editing. There are some puzzlers and songs that just don’t belong. The opener Dooo It, fails to set the tone of the album while opening it. But the raw emotions, the problematic realness, and the overall amazing production makes this album a must listen for music lovers. If Younger Now can capture at least some of the magic Dead Petz did, Miley Cyrus is bound to continue to change some minds.