Miley Cyrus — “See You Again”

Released: 12.19.07

Peak: #10

Jane Dark in late 2007: “We have yet to hear a good song from Hannah Montana, but won’t be surprised when we do. It’s like getting a good Christmas present from your uncle who works in Silicon Valley: he’s clueless, but he’s got pockets full of money and friends full of advice, and sooner or later he’s gonna nail it.” Mr. Dark eventually heard what he was listening for in 2009’s autotuned-to-a-pulp celebration of big-tent pop, “Party in the U.S.A.,” about which, personally, I’m only like, yeah. Its melody blends invariably (and not entirely explicably) into Martika’s “Toy Soldiers” in my head, though I’m grateful for the tip that it’s uncool to wear cardigans in L.A., which is maybe why I’ve never been.

I’d heard a few good songs from Miley Cyrus had before that, beginning with “See You Again,” released (but maybe unheard) before JD’s comment. In truth, I’ve yet to hear a good song from Hannah Montana–either Miley has hogged them all from her alter ego, or she’s a better actress when she’s playing “herself.” She’s certainly a better actress when she’s singing–you’d never expect the shouty Disney brat on TV could match the sexy menace of that sneaky spy guitar and synth ominosity with her distinctly brunette huskiness.

Granted, that predatory self-control holds only through the slow build of the verses–the chorus obliterates her composure. “See You Again” brilliantly captures that frustrating high school duality: the utter confidence in private, the embarrassing emotional face-plant in public. The latter is particularly humiliating here, as Miley’s “stu-stu-stuttering” is followed by “My best friend Leslie said/ ‘She’s just being Miley.'” (Thanks for nothing, Leslie.) “See You Again” is that compulsively re-rehearsed pep talk in your bedroom each day after school, that reassurance that next time everything will be different–that next time you will be different. And oddly enough, its success may have as much to do with Miley as with the rich uncles who gifted her with it.

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  • Chris Molanphy  On January 21, 2011 at 9:14 am

    Co-sign this whole post, esp. “See You Again” > “Party in the U.S.A.”

    I’m either a moron or a Miley underestimater, because it took me weeks of hearing the song on my local radio station before the “She’s just being Miley” line registered and I realized this catchy bit of new-new-wave pop was Cyrus.

  • usefulnoise  On January 21, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Yeah, for a minute there, back in ’08, I thought she was really going to be something.

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