Tuesday night, I stumbled upon a goldmine of procrastination when I discovered that Miley Cyrus’ new album "Bangerz" was streaming free on iTunes Radio. However, as some of you may actually need to focus on your Gov 20 reading, it’s understandable that you may not want to devote an hour of your time to Miley’s chef d’oeuvre. Luckily for you, I’ve compiled a cheat sheet of Miley’s most thought-provoking lyrics along with what paltry analysis a non-English major can provide.
1. “All the way in the back, with a tree on my lap / All the boys like to ask me, what you doing with that / If you say you love me, I ain't fooling with that / They ask me how I keep a man, I keep a battery pack” – “SMS (Bangerz),” featuring Britney Spears
Here, Miley lends a touch of mystery to what seems to be a generic “partying in the club” lyric with her unconventional word choice. What is the “tree” on her lap? Most trees are of the size that won’t fit in a lap, so barring the possibility that Miley has an affinity for bonsai bushes, I must conclude that the “tree” is a) metaphorical or b) a drug reference. According to the Urban Dictionary, “tree” is parent-friendly slang for the drug marijuana. Given that Miley owns a dog named Mary Jane, this explanation is a viable possibility, yet it still remains to be determined why one would have a tree (joint?) in one’s lap. So I venture that this tree is in fact a metaphor for something deeper, her soul perhaps (is she a vegetarian?). Bonus points to anyone who can explain the significance of the “battery pack,” or what the title of the song, “SMS (Bangerz)” means.
2. “I'm a female rebel can't you tell? / Bang on the dashboard, just chipped a nail / Lean out the window that's when I yell / Driving so fast 'bout to piss on myself… / Police want to get him and put him in jail / Imma do whatever to get him his bail / Hooked on donuts and [inaudible]” – “4x4,” featuring Nelly.
In this country-hip-hop crossover jam, Miley’s imagery takes a turn for the literal. Little interpretation is needed. Yet the last phrase seems somehow unrelated to the previous few, and its inaudible ending is frustrating, like the unresolved ending to a French arthouse film. Is it possible that the obfuscated word has implications that will utterly revolutionize our interpretation of the song? Having cross-referenced several sources, the only hypotheses for the missing lyric were “roof satin” (LyricsTranslate) and “pussy tails” (AZ Lyrics). Unfortunately, the world may never know what Miley was intending, but at least we know that next to trees and molly, her favorite drug is donuts.
3. “You think I'm strange bitch / It's bananas like a fucking 'rangatang bitch” – “Do My Thang
Miley marks a subtle distinction here. Many of her fans were previously in danger of conflating the concept of “strange” with “bananas like a fucking 'rangatang.” However, with her lyricism, Miley gently corrects this forgivable misconception with a public service announcement. Yet the question remains: How bananas is a ‘rangatang?
4. “You played my strings like my guitar / When I look in your eyes I see all the stars / Would you believe / I'm dancing in the mirror / I feel like I got no panties on” – “#GETITRIGHT”
Now, listening to this lyric alone by myself makes me feel uncomfortable, but all true artists should test the boundaries of their audience to reach new levels of meaning. In essence, Miley is attempting in this song what Picasso achieved with his Les Demoiselles d’Avignon or what Dada visionary Marcel Duchamp accomplished with his “Fountain.” Lyrically, Miley scores a simile daily double before effortlessly transitioning to her reflection on the feeling of “[having] no panties on,” a sensation that could only be described as, uh… breezy? Unfortunately, I cannot as of yet interpret the juxtaposition of a song whose musical attributes are akin to smooth R&B hip hop and a title that is reminiscent of an overexcited Tweeter.
5. “To my homegirls here with the big butt / Shaking it like we at a strip club / Remember only God can judge ya / Forget the haters, cause somebody loves ya” – “We Can’t Stop”
Here, Miley clearly preaches a message of unconditional acceptance for those of the female gender with bootylicious attributes and provocative dance moves—a group severely marginalized by the rest of the population.
6. “I got two, ooh letters for you / One of them is F and the other one is U / Cause what you gotta do, is go get yourself a clue” – “FU,” featuring French Montana
While the interpretation of the acronym “FU” might seem obvious, consider that Miley might have been trying to send a more subtle hidden message to her ex-beau Liam Hemsworth.