S. and the girls have a new evening routine. She opens up her computer, pulls up the YouTubes, and they watch fun music videos. The vids run the gamut from our favorite kid music singer Laurie Berkner to the Black Eyed Peas and Beyonce. Their favorite song, though, is Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the USA.” No surprise, I think most girls under the age of 10 would say that right now.
It’s been funny to watch M. and C. take to the song. While they do typical kid singing around the house, and will sing parts of songs they know in the car, they’ve never sang all of a song before. Now M. happily sings along to the entire song, throwing her hands up in the air at the appropriate parts. C. is funnier, going into the serious voice of someone who is completely lost in the song. She knows every word, from beginning to end, and as soon as she hears the first notes, she breaks into a smile and starts wiggling in her seat (when we’re in the van). They both shout, “It’s ‘Party in the USA’!” and shush everyone so they can hear all the words.
Generally I’m anti sugary, processed, pop music. But I don’t mind this song at all. Mostly because of the way the girls react. I’m sure we’re slipping down a slope that will have us listening to nothing but the Disney approved teen popsters sooner rather than later. But this isn’t a bad way to start.
There are parts of the song that still bug me, though. A few of the rhymes feel forced, but this isn’t high poetry we’re talking about. What really got me was the chorus. We go from Miley nodding her head, and moving her hips like yeah to it being a party in the USA.
I did not get it. I could not see the connection between going to LA for the first time and trying to fit in to this broad statement about it being a party from coast-to-coast.
I imagined the writers, when they were coming up with the lyrics, hitting a block.
“We have a great beat and a killer hook. But this chorus needs something else…”
Just then, Billy Ray strolls through the room.
“It’s not my place to do your job for you, but in Nashville, anytime we get stuck, we just make the song about America and it seems to work.”
After a moment of silent contemplation, the writing team bursts into applause.
“That’s why he’s Mr. Achy Breaky Heart, ladies and gentlemen!”
Billy Ray dips his head, waves, and says, “Just tryin’ to help.”
Then he shuffles off to get his highlights redone.
But the more I listen to the song, the more I think there may be some real depth to it. It’s the classic story of an outsider going to California, looking for their fortune. Miley Cyrus is the Joad family of the 21st Century! Once there, she learns that despite differences in fashion and local patois, we’re really all the same, and music is the great uniter.
She’s just restating a concept that hip-hop legend <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rakim”>Rakim</a> articulated much more simply over 20 years ago: it ain’t where you’re from, it’s where you’re at.
All that is lead-in to the brilliant piece of video I took Thursday night. The camera can cause the girls to break character a bit, so you don’t get the full, back-of-the-van performance, but you get some bonus dance moves that aren’t possible when strapped into a carseat. And you get a special guest star who steals the show.