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Party in the U.S.A.: Guilty Pleasure

Jordan Gamble | Tuesday, September 29, 2009

I like it but I’m too ashamed to tell anyone except the entire readership of The Observer. Hello, my name is Jordan, and I’m a Mileyholic.After watching the Irish crush Purdue’s hopes and dreams last Saturday night, after screaming and singing our fight song and weaving through throngs of disheartened Boilermaker fans, after trudging 4.8 miles to the public pay lot on the southern edge of Purdue’s campus, I felt the urge. The urge to crank up Miley Cyrus in my Pontiac and belt out, “I throw my hands up, they’re playin’ my song, the butterflies fly away …”Miley Cyrus’s latest release is one of those songs that you don’t like to admit to liking. It’s derivative, nasally and ridiculous, which is exactly why I love it. I absolutely adore “Party in the U.S.A.” because it never fails to make me nostalgic, giggly and incredibly confident in my singing ability all at once.

It’s derivative. It mashes together all the carefree summer songs of my youth, the ones that I enjoyed on my neon-colored stereo with the detached purple speakers. My sister and I would put on Hanson and sing along to the entire album on repeat. Then we graduated to the Spice Girls and their sassy pop. Then it was Britney Spears. Obviously, Miley Cyrus’ people understand that about half her demographic consists of closet listeners who are yearning for the mindless, lyrically simple and catchy-as-heck music of the late 1990s. Miley’s producers shrewdly dissected each of these songs, harvesting the catchiest elements of each.

It’s nasally. Duh. Everyone knows Miley Cyrus can’t sing. (Or act, or dance, or speak whole sentences, or refrain from taking MySpace shots of herself to send to a Jonas Brother.) She is physically incapable of technicalities like “singing.” She just yells the words in random order while standing in a recording booth and hopes for the best. Her lack of talent is useful, of course. With a little computer help, Miley’s voice is just tuneful enough that just about every hearing person on Earth can sing along with gusto. I will snicker about how terrible she sounds, but inside, I’m so happy she’s mediocre. Mediocre is accessible.Take, for comparison, “She Wolf.” It’s not fun to sing along to Shakira, guys. She’s so experimental and high-pitched, and she howls. It’s too darn complicated. “Party in the U.S.A.” makes me feel good about myself because I can sing along competently. No one will look at me and think, “Oh, great, there’s that girl who thinks she can sing but totally cannot. What a sad excuse for a human being.”

It’s ridiculous. While I appreciate that the song rhymes “stilettos” with “memo,” the lyrics are truly awful. “Nodding my head like yeah, moving my hips like yeah.” What is this “yeah” you speak of, Miley? The song references Britney (one word), which I can understand. Like I said before, this song is a shameless reiteration of every feel-good pop ditty ever. But why a Jay-Z shout-out? Does Miley even know he does other things besides be Beyonce’s husband? If she does, maybe Miley Cyrus deserves an Oscar, because she’s really been fooling me. Yet if the lyrics weren’t ridiculous, I probably wouldn’t even like this song. I wouldn’t like any Miley Cyrus songs if I couldn’t play it “ironically” and sing along to the inane lyrics “ironically.” As if I don’t enjoy it and am only putting myself through the horror to partake in some college ritual that demands I listen to Disney stars in order to proclaim my college-fostered love of “irony.”Don’t even pretend you don’t relish the chance to sing along to all three minutes and 25 seconds of that insidious ear crack that is “Party in the U.S.A.” It’s already a dorm party staple, obliterating the rule that stipulates songs must spend five months in popular release before they enter the iTunes of Notre Dame students. Obviously this song is the devil’s work. (But I love it. I do.)