The first single from Miley Cyrus’s new album, “Malibu,” sparked a flurry of think pieces that both doubled down on the criticism that the singer has received over the years for her cultural appropriation of hip-hop signifiers while also rebuking her for abandoning it. That Miley adopted a more mellow pop-rock sound and traded grillz and twerking for a more squeaky-clean image and frolicking in a country meadow, respectively, was seen as proof that hip-hop was nothing more than a costume.
The title track from Miley’s upcoming album, Younger Now, seems to obliquely reference the controversy: “Even though it’s not who I am/I’m not afraid of who I used to be,” she declares. The music video, directed by Diane Martel and co-directed by Cyrus, finds the artist paying homage to none other than Elvis Presley, at one point donning a poodle skirt that will no doubt further irk her detractors. Not to put too fine a point on it, the song’s lyrics, including the line “NO ONE STAYS THE SAME,” appear on screen in big bright letters.
“Younger Now” reprise’s its predecessor’s sunny pop aesthetic, subtly evoking early-’90s dream-pop, but the new song is more immediate than both “Malibu” or “Inspired,” the twangy acoustic ballad that closes the album.
Younger Now drops September 29th on RCA Records.