The Time of Our Lives

Band: Miley Cyrus
Album: The Time of Our Lives
Best song: “Party in the U.S.A.,” of course.
Worst song: Oh, whatever.

In a radio┬áinterview I can’t find now, Ricky Gervais was talking about different types of art and called a song (any song) “The greatest piece of art someone can create.”

Since the album’s resurgence in the mid- to late-1990s, technology has — in my eyes — made it such that singles have become the preeminent want to digest music. iTunes and other such MP3 services make it so everyone can make their own playlist of songs they enjoy. Hit singles mean more and more songs become hits.

I mention Gervais for two reasons. The first is because his quote is odd for a person responsible for some very critically-acclaimed comedy, elevating music over his own art.

Secondarily, it brings me to a conversation I was having recently. I’ve been recently getting into Gervais and writing partner Stephen Merchant’s non-Extras/Office work; indeed, it’s mostly his work with Karl Pilkington. An Idiot Abroad truly is work of genius in its combination of a travel show and exploration of cultural exchange. The animated Ricky Gervais Show shows Pilkington at his Little Englander best, with odd flights of fancy toward the Elephant Man (Karl’s favorite freak), evolution and weird stories about Karl’s strange family.

This is to say this: I don’t want a ton of TV — comparatively, I’d say — but almost all of the TV I watch is scripted. When people complain about the popularity of reality TV, I can’t relate. I watch NBC’s Thursday lineup and a few cable dramas (I’m in Game of Thrones and Mad Men season now; in the summer/fall, I’ll get to Breaking Bad, Louie and Sons of Anarchy), but I’ve never seen Intervention, any of the Real Housewives franchise, any of those pawn/storage shows, etc.

I know about Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. I don’t know anything about this reality shows. This may be in my DNA, as my high school years had me actively ignoring Seinfeld, despite it since becoming a favorite show of mine. I didn’t see Titanic until nearly 10 years after it had been released. I kept up some with the mainstream music of the era, but that was largely because of my involvement in radio.

Miley Cyrus’ music isn’t geared toward me, so it’s hard to blame me for ignoring her records in the past however long she’s been singing. I’m not a teenage girl and have never been one. Moreover, I’m more than ten years her senior, so any interest I’d have in her is awfully close to creepy.

With that said, “Party in the U.S.A.” is a pretty great record. It’s the power that Gervais mentions, in that a great song never really gets out of your head. No real offense to Ms. Cyrus is intended, but her performance is close to forgettable; the hook is so cheesy, it’s absolutely brilliant, but otherwise, it’s pretty average.

But, like so many records, when a song hits a Lil Wayne mixtape — as this song did — it causes a listener to reexamine its merits. “Party in the U.S.A.” is a hook that is undeniable and having Lil Wayne rap over it makes it wonderful. It also gives — me, at least — a new appreciation for the simplicity of such a song.

I’ve said it before, but not everything is going to be the record that you play at a funeral, wedding or whatever. Some songs are just wonderful earworms. It is the greatest form of art, indeed.

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  • About Me

    I'm Ross Jordan Gianfortune. I am not a writer, but I sometimes write here about music and my life. I live in Washington, DC.

    I used to review each of Rolling Stone Magazine's top 500 albums of all time. Now I'm writing about albums I own.

    My work has appeared in The Washington Post, The Gazette, The Atlantic, Sno-Cone and a bunch of defunct zines.

    You can contact me at rjgianfortune at gmail dot com.

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