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Sunday, July 08, 2012

Party In The U.S.A.

Guilty pleasure songs.

Oh, come on. Admit it. We all have them.

In fact, I'll be admitting what one of mine is a little bit later in this blog, and maybe if you see me doing it, you'll work up the courage to post some of yours. At least, that's my intention, anyway.

I guess I should probably define what a “guilty pleasure” song is first. I believe it to be a song that a person absolutely can't get enough of, but can't really admit to liking it in public for fear of taunts and teasing from those closest to you because it's “uncool” to like it. There's lots of examples of this in the world of pop culture. Take a look at the novelty hit “Macarena”, which dominated the top of the charts for a huge chunk of 1996. Many people loved the song (and still do), but many more seem to despise it. Another artist that gets a lot of flak is Justin Bieber. I'll admit that while I don't really care for his music, I do respect him as a person, and I won't readily insult or talk badly about him just because others do. Besides, Justin Bieber has already won the hearts of just about every girl under the age of 14 globally, so clearly he must be doing something right.

I guess the point that I'm trying to make is that there are songs that are released in which people seem to feel that it's more fun to make fun of than actually listen to it while keeping an open mind. And for whatever reason, I don't really agree with that logic. In fact, I bet that I can take every artist that has ever recorded a song within the last 50 years, and find one song that I absolutely love of theirs. When I run off the names Britney Spears, Hilary Duff, Lady Gaga, and yes, even Justin Bieber...I can list off at least one song I like from each of these artists. Those songs, respectively, are “Sometimes”, “Stranger”, “Bad Romance”, and...well...I don't mind “Baby” as much. The last one isn't really a favourite, but I do find it tolerable.

Hey, at least give me credit for trying here.

And, for today's blog topic, I thought that I would post another song that I consider to be a “guilty pleasure” song of mine. One that I admittedly still enjoy three years after it was released.

ARTIST: Miley Cyrus
SONG: Party In The U.S.A.
ALBUM: The Time Of Our Lives
DATE RELEASED: July 29, 2009

Yes, I know what you're saying. I'm doing a blog topic on Miley Cyrus. Some of you might be staring at me in disbelief and confusion. But, you know, I'm not ashamed to admit it. I love “Party In The U.S.A.” because it's happy, carefree, you can dance to's probably one of the better songs that came out of the decade known as the noughties.

I imagine that most of you who are at least sixteen years of age or younger may remember Miley Cyrus best from the Disney Channel show “Hannah Montana”, which ran from March 2006 until January 2011.

(On a side note, who knew that it ran for five years? I didn't think it was that popular until I read that in 2008, over 200 million people all over the world watched the program.)

Oh, and Miley's father was this guy.

I STILL can't believe that it was a #1 hit on the charts twenty years ago.

Anyways, there's very little to tell about the life history of Miley Cyrus. Her autobiography only spans nineteen and a half years. But she was born on November 23, 1992 with the given name of Destiny Hope Cyrus. The reason behind her original name was because her parents believed that she would accomplish great things with her life.

So, how did the Miley come into play? Well, according to Billy Ray Cyrus, she always used to smile a lot when she was a baby, and he had given her the nickname “Smiley”. At some point, it was shortened to Miley, and the name stuck. A few years later, she would legally change her name to Miley Ray Cyrus, which she did in memory of her grandfather Ronald Ray Cyrus, who passed away in 2006.

Miley got her first taste of show business when she was quite young, making a cameo appearance in the show “Doc”, which starred Billy Ray Cyrus. She's also done a couple of films in addition to her work on “Hannah Montana” (including a Hannah Montana movie), has released several singles that have charted on both the mainstream and country charts (yes, “The Climb” has been played on some country music stations), and her godmother is country singer Dolly Parton!

Mind you, she's been making headlines recently for some not-so-nice publicity shots...but I don't really want to talk about those. My goal for this blog is to make it as positive as it can be. I want people to walk away with warm fuzzies, not anger and bitterness.

Instead, I thought I would choose this particular song, not just because of the fact that it's a guilty pleasure song...but because it also happens to be her most successful song. It managed to reach #2 on the Billboard Charts in late 2009. I'd call that a success.

But did you know that “Party In The U.S.A.” wasn't originally written for Miley?

The song was originally written by British singer Jessie J, who had a hit a few months ago with the song “Domino”. She worked on the song along with collaborators Claude Kelly and Dr. Luke. It was intended to be released on her debut album, but before she made it to the recording studio, she had changed her mind about the song. She opted not to record it because she felt that it wasn't edgy enough for her.

Flash forward a few months later when Miley herself was working on an album with Dr. Luke. The song “Party In The U.S.A.” resurfaced, and was re-written by a writing team. They felt that somehow they could use the song as a method of promotion, as Miley was working on a clothing line with Max Azria at the time. The song was rewritten by Jessie J, Dr. Luke, and Claude Kelly with Miley as the subject, and the lyrics were fine-tuned to tell the story of how Miley and her family relocated from Tennessee to Hollywood, California.

Here's the kicker, though. When the song was completed, Miley Cyrus did like it enough to record it, and add it onto the album “The Time Of Our Lives”, but she didn't exactly fall in love with it right away. Miley believed that the song didn't really reflect the kind of music she liked to perform. Ironically enough, the main complaint that she had with the song was the fact that she had felt that the song wasn't edgy enough for her...the very reason why Jessie J refused to record the song herself! And, on top of all that, the song lyrics make a reference to her listening to a Jay-Z song on the radio. But in 2009, when the song was released, Cyrus admitted that she had never heard a Jay-Z song prior to the song's release.

But somehow, record producers seemed to believe in the song a little bit more than Cyrus. When the album was released, “Party In The U.S.A.” ended up being the lead single of the whole album, something that surprised Cyrus, as she didn't feel that the song was strong enough to become commercially successful. The single was leaked on radio stations the last week of July, 2009, and within two weeks had taken over the country by storm.

The song itself was also performed live for the first time on August 10, 2009. That performance was at the Teen Choice Awards, and was the subject of some mixed reactions. Everyone agreed that the song was quite good, and it had garnered a lot of critical praise. The performance, on the other hand, was more mixed. You see, Miley decided to perform the song wearing a rather revealing outfit, and part of the choreography of the performance involved an ice cream cart and a pole that she shimmied down. Although that portion of the performance lasted less than a minute, it was thirty-nine seconds too long for some. A lot of people launched complaints over the appropriateness of a sixteen year old girl showing children that it was okay to pole dance at an awards show for teenagers. But, at the same time, others remarked that the focus should have been on the fact that Miley won six awards that night, and not for the sexuality exhibited during her performance.

(I'm curious to know...what do you all think? I'll post a link to the performance HERE. Watch it and weigh in. What do you think? Did she go too far?)

At any rate, while there may have been some controversy linked with this song, it still doesn't take away from the fact that by itself, I kind of like it.

And, here's one final footnote to add onto this. Would you believe that the death of Osama bin Laden was a key ingredient in the re-emergence of this song's popularity? When Osama bin Laden's death was announced in America in the late night hours of May 1, 2011, people flocked onto YouTube, and posted all sorts of pro-America and anti-Osama comments underneath Miley's video! It suddenly became an anthem for the day. I must say that while my first reaction to hearing about the death of a known terrorist would not be to watch a Miley Cyrus video, I get the feeling that for some people, it was a source of comfort.

But for me, it's just a great song. One that I make no apologies in liking.

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