By Bernard Dayo
In the opening scenes of Malibu, Miley Cyrus latest track off her yet-to-be titled album, we are shown a bunch of cheery balloons and then the camera quick-cuts to Cyrus, standing against a backdrop of a light waterfall, and sheathed in a white ruffle-patterned dress that seemed like it is sprouting out of her body. The atmosphere is sweetly idylic: beach scenes and flat fields on which Cyrus sings while sprawled languorously, blinking innocent round eyes. But we won’t be bamboozled.
There’s a reason Cyrus chose an all-white palette for Malibu. It is, as we see in her colour choice for clothes in the video, an ode to her Hannah Montana years and sweet-girl naïveté—before her MTV VMAs twerking scandal which ushered in the new, image-shifting Miley Cyrus era. Aside the signifier of innocence in Malibu, the song is a drab, uninspiring borefest only reedemed by Cyrus’ deliberate infusion of her country roots.
“I never would’ have believed you if three years ago you told me,” she sings. “I’d be here writing this song/ But here I am, next to you/ The sky’s more blue in Malibu.”
In an interview with Billboard last week, Cyrus calls Malibu a love song to fiance Liam Hemsworth. If this is what a love song sounds like on her forthcoming album, then Cyrus would need to develop an extra skin for the critics. Bangerz, her fourth studio album released in 2013, was hip hop-drenched, featuring rappers like Nelly, French Montana, and Ludacris. Furthermore, the album gave Cyrus her very first Grammy nomination. Solidifying her graviataion towards pop, Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz, the Flaming Lips-assisted album from 2015 bouyed her to relative ascendency. Mike Will Made It, who helped produce Bangerz, describes Petz as “country Lana Del Rey backed by a choir, except it’s Miley pouring her heart out.”
As it is, Malibu isn’t shockingly offensive. It’s got a breeziness that qualifies Cyrius newly reabsorped identity, a reclaimation of a long-lost innocence.
“This record is a reflection of the fact that yes, I don’t give a fuck, but right now is not a time to not give a fuck about people,” Cyrus 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.”
And yes, we sure do love you, Miley.