A foray into the world of music criticism

Good morning, everybody!

This week I’m suffering from something of a lack of inspiration, which can, I’m sure, be mostly attributed to the fact that I’ve had the week off work, which doesn’t bode too well for some future time when I’m doing some different job.  I shall probably lack inspiration then, as well.  But then, what do artists (and that is what I am) do when they lack inspiration?  When they can’t produce anything fit for human consumption?  Yes, that’s right!  They become critics!  I thought, therefore, that I would do some music criticism.

Now, I am of the view attributed to Richard Wagner: that music criticism is an immoral profession, and should be abolished.  Nevertheless, I’m going to do it anyway, merely to see whether I can.  So be aware that what follows may veer into immoral territory and that I may do more such veering in the future, should the need arise.

Miley Cyrus has released a new album, entitled ‘Bangerz’.  Which is the sort of thing she does, when she’s not licking a sledgehammer, gyrating against Robin Thicke’s crotch or miming alongside an assembly of (one would presume) handsomely-paid dwarves.  While I can’t possibly cover the whole album here, I thought that I might pass comment on the single ‘We Can’t Stop’.

But then, I realised that I don’t have to.  In fact, you needn’t even listen to it, because the Wikipedia entry contains a surprisingly thorough description:

“We Can’t Stop” is a midtempo pop, R&B, dance track with a length of three minutes and fifty-two seconds. It is written in the key of E major and Cyrus’ vocals span two octaves, from the low note of B2 to a high F#5. It follows the chord progression E—G#m—C#m—A. The song starts with a pitched down voice singing the first verses, then Cyrus’s vocals begin followed by the keyboard chords. The pre-chorus and the chorus are accompanied with heavy beats.

So there you go.  Hassle saved.  In fact, since the rest of the album (probably) follows a similar vein, I could safely end the review here, couldn’t I?  I should probably close with some sort of numerical evaluation, for those too busy or lazy to read what I’ve written.  I’ve observed that it’s a habit among critics to append such things to the end of their opinion (a practice so nonsensical that I’ve just decided to have a whinge about it next week).  Maybe I’ll do it, to.  That’s what those parasites at Metacritic want me to do, is it not?

But no.  I’ve time to pass further comment, and I think it’s only fair that some time is spent addressing this song’s lyrical content, which seems to chronicle Miley Cyrus’s future descent into some inescapable abyss of crack-fuelled hedonism.  I’m sure there are some talking points to be found there.  And indeed, sure enough, I have found a few lines which merit further discussion:

1.

“Hands in the air, like you don’t care.”

Yes, we’ve all heard this one.  It’s woven into our culture to such an extent that I doubt it will ever be removed; in fact I’m sure it’s already been discussed exhaustively elsewhere, over the ages.   The substance of this line has always puzzled me.  I have questions.  What isn’t being cared about, here?  Do people who don’t care put their hands in the air?  Did this start with one person who was one day feeling quite apathetic and then went on to decide – out of some fit of mania entirely unrelated to the aforementioned apathy – to wave his hands around in the air, like some frenzied baboon?  Did someone then put the two together, and deduce some correlation between the waving of the hands in the air and the earlier lack of caring?  If so, this merely serves to illustrate the lasting effect this sort of fallacious reasoning can have on our society, and that we should definitely take such matters very seriously indeed.

I don’t, however, think this scenario all that likely.  More likely is that there came a point in history where a great many people were prone to waving their hands in the air at social occasions (this seems especially likely when you consider that it’s a good deal easier to perform than the robot or the wyrm or the worm).  And it certainly could have been the case that these people didn’t care, so the association does work a little better than something self-evidently untrue like ‘wave your hands in the air like a polar bear’*.

‘Wave your hands in the air like you’ve just gone spare’ might be more suitable, though ‘to go spare’ has fallen into relative disuse, and I don’t think anyone in America ever used the expression ‘go spare’.  Really, I think the fact that ‘care’ and ‘air’ rhyme is what has allowed this cliché to go for so long unchallenged.  We all roll our eyes when we hear it, but it’s down to the fact that we’re heard it before that we find it objectionable, not the fact that it makes no logical sense.  So, everyone, the next time you’re out of your mind in some sticky-floored hellhole, and are invited to wave your hands in the air like you don’t care, you should heed my warning and adjust your behaviour accordingly, because those that don’t care would wave their arms in the following manner:  with very limited enthusiasm, or not at all.

2.

“We run things, things don’t run we.”

Okay, recently I’ve made a conscious effort to reduce the amount of swearing on this blog, and I’m keen to avoid another lapse here; but, that said:  Fiddledy-dee!  What in the name of Holy Mother Mary Maiden Mild is going is going on with this sentence?   “Things don’t run we”?  Run we?  RUN WE!?  Why would anyone do this?  Why have you done this, Miley Cyrus?

Now, I am not some grammar zealot (though I am the sort of person whose blood pressure rises appreciably when I see a misplaced apostrophe in a shop sign).  Perhaps you will detect some grammar mistake in some of the things I write, but this is down to genuine error.  This is a multi-million dollar enterprise, which a whole roomful of people collaborated in writing.  “Don’t run we”!? At least “hands in the air like we don’t care” scans reasonably well.  It’s passed the field test.  “Things don’t run we” is just atrocious.  Did you consider the following line (‘we don’t take nothing from nobody’) so stratospherically awesome that you couldn’t come up with something else?  What about “I run things, things don’t run me?”  What’s wrong with that?  You are a monster.

This is too far.  Forget the sledgehammer licking, forget the drugs, and forget the grinding your ass against a man’s crotch before an audience of millions.   This is the point at which I ask:  what sort of message are you sending to our youth, Miss Cyrus?   Please Miley, I’m begging you.  JUST WRITE SOMETHING THAT DOESN’T FUCKING RHYME IF YOU CAN’T BE FUCKING BOTHERED TO OBEY THE RULES OF THE QUEEN’S FUCKING ENGLISH AAAAAAAARRRRGGGGHHH!!!!!!

3.

“Only god can judge us”

This, to me is quite puzzling.  I’ve seen many variants of this; sometimes it’s posted on social networks, though I’ve also seen it tattooed onto human flesh:

‘Only god can judge us’

or

‘Only god can judge me’

or

‘Only god can judge you’

Let me declare my ignorance straight away:  I’m unsure what this even means.  Perhaps it doesn’t mean anything.  Perhaps it’s some sort of hyper-profound word-salad, and is beyond my comprehension, and I’m a fool to try and derive any meaning from it.  Perhaps you are all thinking ‘well, it’s obvious to me what it means’.  If that be the case, then pray indulge me and entertain the fact that you might be mistaken.  Because I am not with you.

What sort of judgement is being passed in this sentence?  One definition of the word judge is ‘to form an opinion of’.  By this definition, I’m quite sure anyone can judge anyone.  For example, if I hear someone repeat this aphorism, I immediately question the thoroughness of their reasoning.  That’s a judgement.  Furthermore, you’re probably judging me right now.  Further than that, I can’t stop you from doing so; I can merely declare that I don’t really give a monkey’s toss about your opinion of me, which I suspect is the general thrust of this lyric.

The word ‘can’ is, therefore, also problematic.   I don’t know what ‘can’ has got to do with it.  Anyone who is capable of judging anything can produce a judgement.  I’m not sure ‘can judge’ should even be used in this manner.  Does ‘can’ in this context mean ‘is able to’?  I suspect that it doesn’t, because then the statement would be so trivial that its pronouncement would be a mark of deepest insanity.  It would be equivalent to:

Only dogs can bark

Only clouds can rain

Only trees can leave

Clearly, the use of ‘can’ here has little to do with a judgement (aha!) on someone’s ability to pass a judgement, rather it’s a statement of apathy toward a judgement already formed, an apathy which probably got Miley onto the whole troublesome business of the waving of the hands in the air.

‘Only’ I actually do get.  It means ‘to the exclusion of every other thingy’.  ‘Only God’ is more troublesome, however; largely because ‘God’ is quite a difficult word to define.  Most people who believe that ‘God’ is a thing (and a thing capable of doing things like passing judgement) would define it as ‘an omnipotent being that created everything that exists’.

So therefore, by a process of amalgamation, I have arrived at an understanding of this lyric, which could be paraphrased thusly:

“The only opinion regarding me or my behaviour that I hold in any esteem is that of an omnipotent being that created everything that exists.”

Okay, I understand this sentence, and I understand that it is insane.  If you’re going to set the standard for whose opinion on you will respect, then I would submit that this is pretty goddam stratospheric.  This is the manner with which serial killers and jihadist respond to their detractors.  Really, all this lyric does is give credence to those that would prefer to ignore the opinions of their friends, relatives, doctor, accountant, lawyer, producer, agent, psychiatrist, record label and the dwarves paid to simulate sex acts on musical instruments which aren’t even really plugged in.  I don’t think that is a message we should be sending to our children.

So there you have it.  Now, about the score:  I’ve decided that, in the interest of fairness, all of my reviews shall be rated out of zero, and this one gets a:

0/0

I hope this has been enlightening for you all.  Until the next time!

*Before you say anything, polar bears don’t have hands.  They have paws.  So shut up.

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