Welcome to Some Songs Considered, a column that recognizes they can’t all be zingers and truly appreciates the ones that are.

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Miley Cyrus – Miley Cyrus & Hear Dead Petz

by Bryce Rudow (@brycetrudow)

I, along with 94% of Rotten Tomatoes, really enjoyed Jim Carey’s cinematic mindfuck The Truman Show. I do still have some slight personal battles with disassociation thanks to its tele-existentialism mindfuckery, but I always eventually take comfort in the fact that there’s no rational way The Truman Show could ever actually exist in real life.

Not because it would take an Unreal-level producer and a small fortune to pull off, but because audiences would never actually want to see all that raw, uninhibited humanity. As entertaining as it would be to get a voyeuristic view at some the ‘aw shucks’ awkward moments that come with growing up, like a first kiss with a first crush, most of the stuff that comes with growing up — especially the stuff done in private settings — would make network executives cringe.

Which brings us to the case of Miley Cyrus…

HannahMontana

For almost 8 years now, beginning with Hannah Montana’s first airing on the Disney Channel, we’ve been able to watch Miley Cyrus grow up right before our very eyes, with unprecedented access. We were there to witness her go through the uncomfortable process of eventually shedding her Mickey Mouse skin — hell, it feels like every step in her puberty launched a thousand blogger op-eds — and we’ve watched as her very public rebellion went from “Partying in the USA” to “We Can’t Stop” to however you want to describe this latest incarnation of the chameleon-like recalcitrant 22-year-old. Right in front us, this real live human being devolved into nothing more than a subject of digital water-cooler fodder.

Jesus Christ, do you remember that she was actually engaged to Liam “The Hunger Games” Hemsworth for a while? Yeah, that happened, and it was only two years ago!

I admittedly didn’t watch the VMAs because time is finite, but no matter where she stands in relation to the public’s ire, it is nothing short of impressive that she’s still one of the most influential celebrities in our the pop culture landscape. In the eight years since we first met her, she’s had her every success questioned and her every failure magnified, and somehow she’s still pushing herself as an artist and a human. You could say that both have come with varying results, but remember that she was supposed to be immolated by the faceless reckoning Twittersphere a long, long time ago:

And it’s not just that she’s simply still around that’s so amazing, it’s that she just dropped one of the best pop albums of the year.

That’s why the insane backlash that I’ve been reading about this album is so flabbergasting. I think it has to do with too many people being unable to divorce “Miley Cyrus, the person” from “Miley Cyrus, the musician behind this album” because there’s only one valid critique that can be levied at this more-mixtape-than-album, and that is that it’s really fucking long. And it’s not just that it’s long, it’s bloated with filler. There are songs on Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz that sound like bad knock-offs of other songs on Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz.

But I’ll be damned if there isn’t a smaller, 2015-defining album one could extract out of it.

So I did…

What follows is not an embed of the full, 23-track mixtape that Miss Cyrus uploaded to Soundcloud and released for free less than a week ago. Instead, it is the official Random Nerds Directors Cut.

These are the 11 best tracks from the album, with all the filler chiseled away — to quote Sum 41, this is all killer and no filler.

“Dooo It”

*Tragically now only available directly on Soundcloud

The first track on the album deservedly keeps its spot in the Directors Cut. This Millennial ennui anthem lets you know from the get-go that you’re in for a crow left of the murder#.

 
“Karen Don’t Be Sad”

*Tragically now only available directly on Soundcloud

Take Wayne Coyne’s your own advice, Karen Miley:

So, Karen don’t be sad
You know the truth is true
The world can still be beautiful
That part’s up to you

 
“The Floyd Song (Sunrise)”

*Tragically now only available directly on Soundcloud

Fun fact: Miley says that during an acid trip, she channeled the spirit of her recently-deceased dog, Floyd. This is his song.

 
“BB Talk”

*Tragically now only available directly on Soundcloud

I’m currently on the fence about the objective quality of this spoken-word #feminist pop jam, but its important to the crux of the album, and “Fuck me so you stop babytalking” is something everyone deserves to hear.

 
“Fweaky”

*Tragically now only available directly on Soundcloud

One of the many pleasant surprises that Mike Will helped make, this piano ballad lets Miley’s underrated voice get the spotlight. This is going to be one of those songs Miley fans point to for years to come whenever ‘haters’ say she doesn’t have talent.

 
“Bang My Box”

*Tragically now only available directly on Soundcloud

Without a doubt, the best song on the album. It’s funky, it’s sexy, it’s catchy. This should be the next single. And btw, if you’re really digging that “Here I ammm, here you arreeee” part, check out J Lima Foxtrot out of my hometown of Washington DC.

 
“Slab of Butter (Scorpion)”

*Tragically now only available directly on Soundcloud

Mike Will Made this one too, but it’s also featuring Sarah Barthel of Phantogram. It is an absolute baby-making jam, and the obvious B-side to “Bang My Box”.

 
“I Forgive Yiew”

*Tragically now only available directly on Soundcloud

Mike Will Made a little “Slab of Butter” callback with the beat, but he whets everything to a sharp enough point that Miley can pull off the line “You’re lucky I’m doing my yoga or you might be dead,” and that’s a pretty impressive feat.

 
“Lighter”

*Tragically now only available directly on Soundcloud

This song is fucking beautiful; all props in the world to Mike Will, who helped make it. With those big 80’s drums and the electric pluck that Cyndi Lauper alchemized, there are at least a baker’s dozen of currently successful musicians who are so jealous this isn’t their song.

 
“Pablow the Blowfish”

*Tragically now only available directly on Soundcloud

This is an ode to a dead blowfish that will shatter your stoic stone heart; just wait until you hear Miley break down sobbing. I don’t know if it’s more impressive if she actually started crying or if she can kayfabe that well, but that’s Dolly Parton’s goddaughter for you.

 
“Twinkle Song”

*Tragically now only available directly on Soundcloud

According to Genius, the Urban Dictionary of Wikipedias: “Miley Cyrus played the song for the first time at Art Basel in Miami on 9 December 2014. She explained the song had been inspired by dreams the night her friend’s cat died, saying, ‘I feel like her cat kind of told me what I was supposed to say to get her through it… It was more therapy to me than anything.'”

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So there it is, the Random Nerds Directors Cut of Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz.

Go listen to it straight through at least once, and then I dare you to tell me that Wayne Coyne-meets-Mike Will Made It isn’t a delicious flavor combination you never knew to try#.

Now I’m not making apologies for anything Miley has ever done or said, to be honest I don’t follow her that closely, but I do think that we need to remember that this a 22-year-old girl who has lived under extraordinary pressure since she first grew into her adult teeth. Throughout Miley’s career, since she was first shackled to the Disney brand, she has been aware that we are aware of almost every facet of her existence.

For her entire adult life, she has been Jim Carey wondering where that door at the end of the sea is:

That’s got to do something to a girl, right?

But completely separate from that discussion, even though it influences this one, it’s important to give her credit where musical credit is due.

I think Wesley Morris of the ‘Do You Like Prince Movies?’ podcast summed it up nicely:

I really don’t like her. I REALLY don’t like her. I think she is a bad dog that somebody needs to take out back and apply a newspaper to immediately. Or take her nose and rub it in all the excrement she leaves everywhere she goes. And yet, as an artist in a recording studio, she. is. great.
 
You can dismiss some of it, but she’s a really interesting recording artist; that is all she should be allowed to do. So it makes it really hard to reckon with how good this album is with all the crap that she does when she’s not in a recording studio.

It may be hard to reckon with, but it’s true. There’s some beautiful music inside Miley Cyrus.