[Note: This story is based on a series of false quotes, and Miley Cyrus has since distanced herself from the erroneous remarks. I luh me some Miley, so consider this more of a think piece about iconicity and pop stardom.]
A pop star is just a corporate business agenda personified by a girl or guy that millions of people want to have sex with. Rihanna is a corporation of hit singles — and good for her and her bank account/wardrobe/weave budget. But having talent isn’t even the main criterion for pop stardom. That’s why the problem with pop stars is that some of them really overestimate their own cultural relevance. Kanye West comes to mind. But in a recent interview with Miley Cyrus, girlfriend comes for Beyoncé’s impeccable lace front and talks about how Bey is great, eyeroll, but completely irrelevant on today’s music scene. Here’s what she said, in case you missed it:
Beyonce has been a big inspiration to me but she’s been out for such a long time. She’s so talented and I think she’s at the top of the game now but people are always looking for new blood and that’s what I bring to the game now, new blood. I got the total package you know, the curves, the rhythm, and the voice. I’m just the best…As Beyoncé grows in motherhood and all the crap it does to your body, it will create a vacuum for fresh young faces to rise up and no one else can properly fill that void right now. I’m the only white female singer that could fill that slot right now and do it right, you know? I’m just the total package, you know? All things must start and end and I hope to have the same success as other icons in the game when my run is over.
I mean where do we even begin? Miss Miley tries to cover her tracks by giving Bey her due props, but that’s kind of like saying, “I’m not a homophobe — I have interacted with gay dudes before!” The maneuver here is to praise Beyoncé while at the same time making a call for why we need fresh blood in pop music. According to Miley, Beyoncé is great and all but the bitch is tired and she needs to focus on being a mommy, real talk.
So Beyoncé is serving u some Yoncé with three of the hottest black models in the world and you’re telling me that she’s irrelevant and too tired to make a hit? GURL BYE. I agree that we need fresh new voices in pop music — we always do. But the harsh reality is that the most interesting pop music acts are not household names like Miley Cyrus who need to show their vaginas as much as possible to get their names out there or, as much as I hate to say it, people like Lady Gaga who has recently been obsessed with intellectualizing her own creative work to the interest of absolutely no one.
That fresh new blood that Miley is talking about is pumped by people who are just on the outskirts of the corporate music industry system, people like Jai Paul who will never be as huge as a Katy Perry or a Miley Cyrus, and maybe it’s better that way. The most interesting pop acts aren’t sex bomb robots with curves and they don’t gyrate on demand. They’re the people who don’t rely so heavily on publicity stunts and who are driven by music not sales, and aren’t already talking about their own iconicity. They’re people like Lorde with something to say who come at us from out of nowhere.
That’s the #1 rule of being really, truly fabulous: You shouldn’t have to talk about yourself or your relevance or your artwork or how great it is, because if you’re fabulous, everybody else does the talking for you. You yourself can’t say, “I’m the greatest” and be taken seriously because your resume, accomplishments and raw talent do all the talking. Not talking about yourself is the best PR.
No matter what you think about Beyoncé or Miley Cyrus, you have to admit that her dismissal of Beyoncé is classic ME-ME-ME narcissism, which you do need a great deal of to make it in the competitive, sail or burn field of celebrity. Celebrity is not the place for modesty. Madonna has a huge ego and it has worked for her. I’m sure some of the most successful people in the world have huge egos, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having a big ego or really understanding your artistic or creative gifts.
But most people who have huge egos and actually benefit from that are people who have had to struggle, who have had to prove themselves over and over again, and against all odds. They were told “No,” time and again. They had to fight and clamor and sacrificed everything and sometimes gained and sometimes lost. They might have huge egos, but they earned it.
Does Miley Cyrus capture something about our current cultural moment? Absolutely. Is she talented? In a lot of ways, yes. But she’s certainly not an icon. At least not yet. If you want to be an icon, Miley, you better work, bitch.