Saturday, June 03, 2023

Kat's Korner: Summer means Miley and The Jonas Brothers

Kat:  It's summer.  Really it is.  If you're a kid, it never really lines up by the calendar.  And, even if you're an adult, you know that -- unless you're too old to remember.  School winding down in May means/meant eager hopes and plans for 'the summer' a period of time that lasts until school starts back up.  And summer is a time for bangers and ballads.  Which is why Kyle Mingoue's new "Padam Padam" is already climbing the charts around the world (Australia, the US, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom . . .).  

Two albums already out should make up the main fabric of 2023 summer living and loving: Miley Cyrus' ENDLESS SUMMER VACATION and The Jonas Brothers' THE ALBUM.

The boy group is made up of three decreasingly hairy brothers: Kevin, Joe and Nick Jonas who started out a DISNEY product and got nominated for a Grammy for Best New Artist for their third studio album.  (Take it up with the Grammys, the previous sentence is factually correct.)  They lost to Adele, recorded one more studio album and then split.

And that would be okay, they were pretty pin ups who had their day.  Now  they went solo.  Nick had the big solo career but what they all worked on separately ending up going into the new sound they finally regrouped with for 2019's best seller HAPPINESS BEGINS which featured the number one hit "Sucker."  The non-album single "What a Man Gotta Do" gave them another hit (number 16 on BILLBOARD's Hot 100 and number 14 on BILLBOARD's Top 40 Pop).  Now we have THE ALBUM with 12 tracks including the current charting single "Waffle House" which some wags are downgrading insisting it's a song "written by committee" (the three bothers plus Jon Bellion, Ido Zmishlany, Daniel Tashian, Pete Nappi, TenRoc,  Johnny Simpson and Aldae).  That's a lot of writers to rewrite the concept of "Bacon" -- Nick's top 40 hit from 2016's LAST YEAR WAS COMPLICATED -- and suggest that songwriting credits are being handed out like Flintstones chewables.  

"Montana Sky" is my pick for best song on the album.  

It's gorgeous.  It also makes me really believe that these aren't earned songwriting credits.  If ten people -- including all three brothers -- wrote this song how did no one catch that "Montana Sky" is a phrase that never appears in the song?  It's "Montana skies" over and over in the chorus.

Instead of going with that song, they released the non-hit "Wings."  I say non-hit because, while anything can happen, it was released in February and never charted in the US (it almost made the top twenty in New Zealand).  "Wings" really the weakest recording on the album.

But there are more than enough possible hits on the album.

"Americana" is one.

"Celebrate" would be another.

And "Vacation Eyes" which could be nice slower hit and could be just the theme song for those high school summer romances. 

And I just feel "Summer Baby" perfectly captures August on the beach, when the tan's set in and you know both your favorite spot to lay out and the time you have to arrive by to get the spot.

That said, I find everything memorable and worth listening to (with the exception of "Wings").  

It's a summer soundtrack.  As is Miley's ENDLESS SUMMER VACATION.  

Her album's already a hit and has already delivered the huge number one single "Flowers."

A great song that exposed a lot -- especially in a meme started by Carrie Underwood's more rough-living fans.  The meme went that Miley just tells you to buy yourself flowers while Carrie told her posse of rough 'uns to slash the man's tires.

Yeah, Carrie did do that.  Yeah, she flashed her toxic masculinity in "Before He Cheats."  She flashed it, America was shocked and then they were just disgusted.

Miranda Lambert could have done that song with a sly wink, put it over as a joke.  But Carrie -- like many a simple-minded songstress -- only has one mode: Achingly Determined.  It was enough to make the song a hit but it was too much to help her career.  And now more and more people just don't like her.  She tries to put out a new song and you've got a lot of people remembering her as the manly and violent Carrie who would slash a guy's tires.  

That's destructive and people don't find that funny when they're thinking about their own tires or their boyfriend's tires or their son's tires or . . .

Yeah, she thought going manly was going to save that career that was a dumpster fire -- her 'acting' in  THE SOUND OF MUSIC for NBC being just one example of a dumpster fire.  A few years later, Tyler Farr released a song about his cheating lover:

I'm gonna aim my headlights into your bedroom windows 
Throw empty beer cans at both of your shadows 
I didn't come here to start a fight, but I'm up for anything tonight 
You know you broke the wrong heart baby, and drove me redneck crazy

The worst he was doing was throwing beer cans and flashing headlights.  But big bad ass Carrie's going pound her chest, grab her crotch and show everyone just how much butch she's packing.  The more the song got played, the more people started noticing, the guy she's singing about didn't cheat on her.  He may just be being nice to some lady who doesn't know how to shoot pool.  He might have wanted more -- he might not have --  but he didn't pursue it.  No, Carrie had already keyed his car, smashed both headlights and punctured all four tires.  

It's that kind of song that led to all the jokes about Carrie having a penis and to her sales cratering -- you have to go four albums back to find a platinum one.  The so-called crossover artist hasn't had a solo top forty pop hit since 2014 which means her last 14 solo singles failed to even make the top forty.  It's as though she's Dottie West and it's 1985 -- when the hit making had long ceased.   Although, to West's credit, she really could sing -- and that's more than just hitting notes -- and she left behind an honest to God legacy.  

The memes are right, Carrie's not Miley Cyrus and Miley's not her.

Miley's far too gifted and far too smart to end up like Carrie.

And that's how we end up with ENDLESS SUMMER VACATION which really is close to perfection and may be the best album of 2023.  "Island" is a song you just want to hear while you're laying out in the sun with your eyes closed, letting the music wash over you.  "Muddy" won't make the radio -- not with those lyrics -- but it's my favorite song on the album.  "Wonder Woman" could have been sung as an anthem but Miley took a sadder, live-in take on it that makes the song more moving.  

I also recommend "You."

But, then again, I recommend the whole album.

I didn't get Miley at first.  I didn't get Miley when she was Miley Ray Cyrus -- or when she was Hannah Montana.  Honestly, it took Eli Lieb doing his cover of "Wrecking Ball" to make me really hear the song.  (Here for Eli Lieb's YOUTUBE video channel and I see his cover of "Wrecking Ball" has nine million streams.)  The new album has one song after another that grabs me.

Miley and The Jonas Brothers are set to own the summer.  Check out ENDLESS SUMMER VACATION and THE ALBUM to see why.