Since I Never Talk About Politics Any More

I really, really want to hate Miley Cyrus (mostly because of the sins of her father and that stupid god damned tongue), mostly out of some sort of middle age angst where I hate all the kids on the grass, and in fairness, I do find most of her antics to be unbearable, but she really is quite talented:

You can be blinded by hatred for the girl, but that doesn’t mean you have to be deaf. That’s pretty good music right there.

87 replies
  1. 1
    Keith P says:

    I can’t quite explain it, but I find her sexy as hell. Maybe it’s the eyes (although I do hate the tongue thing she always does)

  2. 2
    Len says:

    She does a passing good job, but that is still Dolly Parton’s song.

  3. 3

    Well, don’t hate me but I’ve met Billy Ray Cyrus several times and he’s actually a really cool guy. Comes from a long line of prominent Kentuclky Democrats. I don’t know what’s up with his daughter and that stupid tongue thing but hey, kids today, what do I know. The music may be meh but Billy Ray the person is really cool.

  4. 4
    kc says:

    I like her. I developed an appreciation for her during her first SNL hosting stint.

  5. 5
    Violet says:

    I like “Wrecking Ball.” Don’t care what anyone else thinks about that. She does have a good voice.

    Dolly Parton is her godmother so the song is also an homage.

  6. 6


    Yeah I’d forgotten about that. That was pretty funny.

  7. 7
    Corner Stone says:

    Since I Never Talk About Politics Any More

    Meh. I’m sure your mancrush Chris Christie will come through this imbroglio just fine.
    After all, I’m pretty sure he’s someone we can work with.

  8. 8
    Keith P says:

    @kc: She does an amazing Justin Bieber impersonation. Spot-on. Seriously.

  9. 9

    Okay so I guess it’s official: we don’t hate Miley Cyrus.

    On the other hand, I thought Daft Punk at the Grammys were ridiculous.

  10. 10
    Joey Maloney says:

    Someone took Dolly Parton’s recording and slowed it down to half speed, you ever hear that? Dropping her voice an octave changes the whole character of the song. Really interesting.

    “The tongue thing” was all part of her declaration of independence from the Disney moppet factory. I think it was stupid-looking but I’m hardly in her target demographic.

  11. 11
    jl says:

    What? Cole is posing as a ‘middle aged’ man who hates Miley Cyrus on elderly ‘get of my lawn’ principles? Yeah, sure. Cole has caught himself in some kind of time warp pretzel.

    I, for one, am a middle age man would never lie to himself that he hates (or ever had the slightest inkling of a desire to hate) someone with the talent (and, OK, looks… maybe) of Miley Cyrus.

    I don’t know what the deal is with her tongue, but I am willing to risk it.

    And I thought this was one of those miserable lefty blogs where everything was political.

  12. 12
    YellowJournalism says:

    I will love her for the great GOP parody she did on SNL where she played Michelle Bacchman and for putting out Party in the USA so Tokyo Police Club could cover it. I think she is a smart girl who is doing Madonna in a way that Britney Spears and others couldn’t do.

  13. 13
    kc says:

    @Keith P:

    I remember that. I found it disturbingly sexy.

  14. 14
    LAC says:

    She doesn’t bother me nor do I hate her. She just turned 21, a wholei lifetime ahead of her. Not like she some bitter alcoholic who spends too much time on this site.

  15. 15
    jl says:


    ” Not like she some bitter alcoholic who spends too much time on this site. ”

    But, hey, she’s still welcome to drop by, in my book, even if she isn’t a bitter alcoholic. I am open minded about people.

  16. 16
    ruemara says:

    She’s quite talented. I found myself liking her when I was bored one afternoon and watched “last song” while working on whatever. Better actor than the godforsaken teen show could ever have prepared me for and can actually sing a real note. The tongue thing only reminds me of giraffe. Which means when she does it, I see a giraffe head on her neck, twerking. I also dislike the cultural appropriation of blackness, in particular the crudest parts, from the safe cocoon of not just whiteness, but blond, rich cuteness-but that’s another discussion.

  17. 17

    I’ve seen better Jolene covers at a karaoke bar. She’s talented at being famous. Which is a talent.

  18. 18
    Wag says:

    That was a great version of a great song

    Here’s another.

  19. 19
    danielx says:

    Girl can sing some, for certain.

  20. 20
    srv says:

    I have no problems with her tongue. John, you are such a prude sometimes.

  21. 21
    LAC says:

    @jl: lol! Well a bitter alcoholic with a sense of humor is always welcomed.

  22. 22
    cckids says:

    @Southern Beale:

    I’ve met Billy Ray Cyrus several times and he’s actually a really cool guy.

    I’ve never met him, but from what I’ve read he seems nicer than many celebs. I know this song is cheesy as hell, but with a daughter who just started college last fall, it has a place on my Ipod.

    Also, too – I think with the right song, she does very well. She doesn’t have much range, which is why that “Wrecking Ball” song sets my nerves on edge, but she does have a nice set of pipes.

  23. 23
    srv says:

    @LAC: Has it ever been discussed here which definition of Balloon-Juice this site derives its name?

    I always thought it was a drinking reference.

  24. 24
    Dolly Llama says:


    I think she is a smart girl who is doing Madonna in a way that Britney Spears and others couldn’t do.

    Hope that’s the outcome rather than her ending up as the Millenial Michael Jackson, I guess, talented but FUBARed in every other way. If I had her fame and money, I’d either be dead or living anonymously under a false name by now. She’d be smart as hell to take the money and pursue the latter course, though I know it would require a shit-ton more effort on her part than the average Witness Protection Program client.

  25. 25
    jo6pac says:

    @LAC As an old white male and yes older than the site owner I don’t pay attention to her but she is very talented. I also think good for her to throw up the act to get to where ever she going the music world. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to a young women in this world and she had the name to start with unlike so many others that get thrown under the bus after one hit..

  26. 26
    Darkrose says:


    I also dislike the cultural appropriation of blackness, in particular the crudest parts, from the safe cocoon of not just whiteness, but blond, rich cuteness-but that’s another discussion.

    This would be why I don’t like her. A white artist is making money from the sexual objectivication of black women’s bodies. Ew.

  27. 27
    Tim F. says:

    Please don’t shoot, but this is the first time I heard this song. My reaction is (1) ridiculously good song and (2) pretty good singer. She has more heart than I gave her credit for. It still strikes me as a little overproduced for a ‘backyard sessions’. Clearly someone is still a bit defensive about her a little bit country / a little bit Disney-the-Weyland-Yutani-of-monolithic-entertainment-corporations image.

  28. 28
    Helen says:

    She also did an awesome cover of Melanie Safka’s “Look What they’ve Done To My Song” in the Backyard Sessions.

    And now I have aged myself!

  29. 29
    maeve says:


    @LAC: Has it ever been discussed here which definition of Balloon-Juice this site derives its name?

    I always thought it was a drinking reference.

    The graphic at the top of the site is a clue: “Balloon Juice ” is hot air.

  30. 30
    Comrade Mary says:

    @Tim F.: This is the first time you’ve heard Jolene? I won’t shoot you, but I will sit here with a mildly worried look on my face.

    I, too, also, love deep-voiced Dolly.

  31. 31
    gelfling545 says:

    When my now-high-school age granddaughter was younger I had to sit through many Disney channel programs with her. It was mainly torture but Miley Cyrus could make me laugh out loud even on a stupid Disney show. Her music doesn’t thrill me but I only listen to our local 24/7 classical station and a local classic rock station so I’m no judge. While I find her on stage antics a bit weird I’ve seen weirder & worse done during the 60’s-70’s so that doesn’t trouble me and, at least in the interview she did with Rolling Stone not too long ago, she sounded fairly well grounded for her age.

  32. 32
    jl says:

    @Comrade Mary: If Tim F. doesn’t listen to Dolly Parton, we do not need to shoot him, he is suffering enough already. I can’t even bear to think about it.

  33. 33
    Percysowner says:

    I’m old and I’ve come to the conclusion that it is really hard for someone who becomes a star at a young age to not be troubled. It can be done and some parents of kids who made it big keep them stable and grounded, but more often than not, the pressures and freedom of being a “star” are too much for a kid to deal with. When I’m feeling judgmental, I think it’s because really responsible parents won’t let their kids go into a business when they are still in their teens. But maybe that’s because I would never have let my child go into singing, or acting or even devote themselves to gymnastics or figure skating to the extent that they could become celebrities.

    I hope Myley Cyrus finds happiness and is able to use her talent to be happy and have a good life.

    And my favorite version of Jolene comes from The Voice, by Cody Belew here

    And his longer studio version here

  34. 34
    muddy says:

    Probably she does the tongue thing just because it makes people recoil. I’m just grateful there was not video of my wild youth, I did much worse. I do have an associated soft spot for her because she has always reminded me very much of a girl very dear to me. I watched her grow up as well, she is older, but when Miley “graduated” it was very like how this girl carried on at that age. And I’d have fit the description myself as well decades since, maybe why I have the soft spot in the first place.

    Weird how you see someone you don’t know but you fell like you’d like them or not.

    Actually she seems remarkably normal to me, considering the Disney thing. She’s very much sex-positive, and owns her sexuality as a natural part of being a person, it’s refreshing. The thing I liked best about Wrecking Ball is that she is the agent. She didn’t “fall” in love like it’s a pothole, he didn’t seduce her, or magic, she is the action. She “never hit so hard in love”. I find it feminist.

    What’s not feminist is people saying about twerking, and tongues, and oh dear. Meanwhile that creepy guy who was shoving his junk at her crotch and is twice her age is hiding his piggy eyes behind aviators and being congratulated for a rapey plagiarized song.

    O that was ranty. I do just like her even though I’m old, and think she’ll do fine.

  35. 35
    maeve says:

    @Comrade Mary:

    My favorite rendition of Joline is still by Coach Bieste (Dot Jones) from Glee

    they changed the lyrics to “flaming locks of golden hair” to fit Jane Lynch.

    I haven’t watched the last few seasons but I liked the 1st 3 and the adult’s story arcs.

  36. 36
    BGinCHI says:

    Worst. Screen shot. Ever.

  37. 37
    srv says:

    @maeve: I think John, being a crude Army guy, would know the condom reference and added the Carnival Barker to be PC.

    Except he wasn’t PC back in the day. And he killed the barker.

  38. 38
    jl says:

    OK, I looked up for some pics of the ‘tongue thing’ BFD and so what?

    Once cannot go gentle out that Disney light. So careerwise, she had to make a break.

    A lot of young starts have done a lot worse, in career and in life.

    I don’t follow her enough to know what the objectification of black women’s bodies thing is about. What did she do?

  39. 39
    mai naem says:

    My sister really likes Miley. She made me watch some MTV reality kind of show where Miley was arriving at some event and she got really pissed off(in a good “wanting to get everything right” way) when the entrance didn’t go the way it was supposed to. She’s sharper than the pop music tween idol she comes across as. I am guessing Dolly’s mentored her at least a little in how to deal with fame/music etc.

  40. 40
    Suzanne says:

    I heard this Jolene cover a while ago, before the twerking debacle, and I thought it was reasonably good then, and still do.

    But I don’t think her voice is anything special. Her dancing, if you can call it that, sucks, and that is to say nothing of the racist implications of its content, merely her skill. And I don’t know if she writes her songs, but I don’t think they’re very good, so she’s either bad at writing them or bad at picking them.

    Taylor Swift writes better songs. (Just to re-open that debate.)

  41. 41
    Bobby Thomson says:

    Possibly my favorite Dolly song, and that’s saying a lot.

  42. 42
    maeve says:


    I don’t follow her enough to know what the objectification of black women’s bodies thing is about. What did she do?

    She twerked – cultural equivalent of Pat Boone covering R & B songs

    Although not yet born in 1955, I’m aged enough to remember Pat Boone as a very very white singer (rather than a maker of late night commercials) and also to have needed to google “twerk” when the controversy arose.

  43. 43
    Bloix says:

    She sounds like she’s in a different room from the band. I don’t know how much electronic wizardry has been applied to her voice, but she’s not singing along with the musicians.

  44. 44
    chopper says:


    My favorite Jolene (after Dolly’s) is the one by the White Stripes.

  45. 45
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Every time that the Miley Cyrus vocal talent issue comes up, I post this. This time is no exception. She can sing and she seems to have respect for her musical roots. She is, what, 20 or 21? Let her be.

  46. 46
    reality-based says:

    well, yes – but Dolly and Melissa Etheridge is a pretty dynamite combination on this song –

  47. 47
    Keith G says:

    I just got in from seeing Jake Bugg live at House of Blues in Houston. If he is near you and you like like rockabilly, skiffle, or folk style rock you need to catch him. At 19 he seems to be a once in a generation talent. One hell of a show.

    Lightening Bolt


  48. 48
  49. 49
    gene108 says:

    I don’t get the Miley hate.

    She’s doing what she has to do to be a star, in this day and age, when becoming a pop star means more than just getting DJ’s to play you on the radio and the kids to buy your 45’s and/or LP’s.

    She’s been working pretty hard, since at a young age and wants to keep going.

    Is she very sexualized? Yes.

    But that seems to be what the entertainment industry has been demanding of female singers, especially since the 1980’s, when looks helped get you on MTV (back when they played music videos) and Madonna took it up a notch by using sexual suggestion to grab attention. Though by today’s standards, Madonna in the mid-1980’s is super-duper tame. Same with Tawny Kitaen in the White Snake videos.

    Miley has to out-do Madonna and Britney and the “dirty” Christina Aguilara phase, in terms of producing the needed “outrage”, to get the headliner pop-star attention the entertainment media seems to demand of female singers.

    If the pop-star culture consuming public has a different wave length for what it tunes into, then we’d see different behavior from female pop-stars.

  50. 50
    trollhattan says:

    I’ll be perfectly content if she ever becomes comfortable in her own skin and finds a path that allows her to make the transition from entertainer to musician. From what little I’ve seen and heard she has some measure of actual talent unlike many that drill into the Uberentertainer-media spectacle aquifer. Time will tell whether she can become a singer or is doomed to be just another Madonna. Sully will buy her records, at least.

  51. 51
    mario says:

    “doomed to be just another Madonna”?

    er, ok.

  52. 52
    Steve Finlay says:

    @Len: Ditto to this. Miley sings it reasonably well, but Dolly is a couple of levels above that.

  53. 53
    Anonne says:

    I think the performance is good, but it doesn’t knock my socks off. She can sing, I won’t deny that, but this song’s range is limited from a technical standpoint. It is still a good rendition.

    I just dislike the fact that she’s made herself into a mental case, far more likely to be Britney than Madonna.

  54. 54
    notorious JRT says:


  55. 55
    EriktheRed says:

    …mostly because of the sins of her father…

    Would that be Achy Breaky Heart, selling his daughter into indentured servitude to the Mouse or that ridiculous mullet he had?

    (or maybe all of the above…?)

  56. 56
    moderateindy says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Have to agree. Can’t say I knew any of her songs, but when I ran across her doing that Dylan tune, and subsequently the previously mentioned Melanie song, I developed a solid respect for her voice, and her taste in songs to cover.

  57. 57
    Cassidy says:

    Oh no. There are lots of young female artists singing niche music to small audiences just waiting to get the spotlight pop stars like her have.

  58. 58
    debbie says:


    The lyrics on that song are pretty weak and too repetitive for even pop, so either Miley needs a creative writing class or to get better writers. Her voice, though, is pretty good.

  59. 59
    Betty Cracker says:

    @Joey Maloney:

    “The tongue thing” was all part of her declaration of independence from the Disney moppet factory. I think it was stupid-looking but I’m hardly in her target demographic.


  60. 60
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    She’s no Dolly, but there’s no shame in that, and Dolly’s not a bad act to follow in terms of having control over your image and your business in the music industry.

  61. 61
    Ajaye says:

    Thank you. That was refreshing.

  62. 62
    ET says:

    I like the Mindy Smith version of this song but the Miley version is better than I think I expected.

  63. 63
    Manyakitty says:

    @Helen: I was just going to post a link to that, so here:

  64. 64
    libarbarian says:

    John Cole,
    John Cole
    John Cole,
    Jooohn Cooole!
    I’m beginning of ya,
    please don’t take my cat!!!

    Seriously. She’d be happier with you but she’s all I have right now.

  65. 65
    Alex Milstein says:

    I was surprised by Miley’s cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go.’ She did it for Amnesty International’s fund-raising CD, ‘Chimes of Freedom.’ I think if she stops trying so hard to be so edgy and hip and relies on good material performed well, she could amount to something more than a singer of empty hit records.

  66. 66
    cal says:

    Love your music threads. Last Christmas you ran a ‘5 Albums you must have on a desert island’ type list and I got a lot of ideas for presents. Have you every heard of the genre ‘Americana’. Well it was new to me a few months ago when Austin City Limits highlighted a few groups. One of them is the ‘Mavericks’. I don’t know much about their country years but their last album ‘In Time’ is a great mix of Rockabilly, Mariachi, and a few others thrown in. Terrific.

  67. 67
    Paul in KY says:

    @Southern Beale: Met Ron Cyrus (Miley’s grandfather) back in the day (say 32 or so years ago). Pretty cool dude, for a legislator.

  68. 68

    I can’t stand Wrecking Ball because she is just yell-singing like Katy Perry. But the reason it really bothers me is because I know she can truly sing. I hope that some day she is able to make real music again and I will listen to her. Until then when I hear her, I change the station.

  69. 69
    coin operated says:

    I’m with y’all on the tongue thing…she’s just achieving escape velocity to break away from Planet Disney.

    Besides that, she has a really good voice and I hope she keeps producing material like the video above.

  70. 70
    Paul in KY says:

    @srv: I thought it was referencing hot air.

  71. 71
    Paul in KY says:

    @muddy: Twas a fine rant :-)

  72. 72
    Paul in KY says:

    @mario: I’m sure she’ll be heartbroken if she is if fact ‘doomed to be another Madonna’. LOLing!

  73. 73
    Pluky says:

    @Len: When I was a wee thing, I heard the (newly released) Dolly Parton version on the radio. I didn’t know who Dolly Parton was, hell I didn’t know what Country music was (Motown and BeBop ruled in my house), but I was enthralled.

  74. 74
    Glocksman says:

    @Betty Cracker:


    As far as talent goes, both Dolly and Miley have it but I can’t stand either of their voices.

    For me, the definitive version of Jolene is Matraca Berg’s

  75. 75
    MCA1 says:

    I’ve heard any number of better Jolene’s. Here’s Mindy Smith’s:

    The trouble for Cyrus is that child music stars seem to have just two paths to adult success in music, if they’re wanting to break free of the Disney mold or similar juggernaut and go it alone. Either be extremely talented and manage to garner critical acceptance very quickly when out on your own (Justin Timberlake, Taylor Swift to some extent), or shock everyone into keeping you in their consciousness (Britney Spears and now Miley Cyrus). In any event, the underlying problem is the pop culture problem of needing to stay relevant ALL THE TIME before you fall off the planet and no one cares about you anymore, but having to do this at an extremely tender age, where even if you do have significant talent it’s not likely polished enough or combined with a preternatural maturity to help you compete with the likes of Jake Bugg and Lorde, not to mention acts that have been together for years and are in their late ’20’s and beyond.

    I think, given her limitations (she has an accurate and fairly strong voice, but somewhat limited range, and not particularly good songwriting skills at her age; her selection of covers feels contrived, as well), Cyrus would have been better off with a gradual maturation and slower emergence from the teeny bop cocoon. I don’t blame her for wanting to declare her independence earlier, but I do think she’s perhaps lacking some of the chops for it. And I do criticize her for choosing to become a tramp as part of that process. I don’t hate her over it, but I have lost whatever respect I otherwise might have for her. There are other ways to declare your independence and adulthood. Yeah, call me a prude. I have a 9 year old daughter. I don’t need her thinking that wearing fishnet dresses with pasties and grinding with your tongue out of your mouth and humping construction implements in a video is acceptable behavior. We have an incredibly sexualized tween/teen world, as it is. So now I have to explain to her why Miley Cyrus is not setting a good example, which is a pain in the rear and difficult to discuss without getting into topics too old for her. Fortunately, from what I understand, all the kids are down on Miley now because she has a stupid new haircut or something, so I’ll take it.

  76. 76
    Glocksman says:


    Weird Al puts it best

    You can torture me
    With Donnie & Marie
    You can play some Barry Manilow
    Or you can play some schlock
    Like New Kids On The Block
    Or any Village People song you know
    Or play Vanilla Ice
    Hey, you can play him twice
    And you can play the Bee Gees any day
    But Mr. DJ, please
    I’m beggin’ on my knees
    I just can’t take no more of Billy Ray

    Don’t play that song
    That “Achy Breaky” song
    The most annoying song I know
    And if you play that song
    That “Achy Breaky” song
    I might blow up my radio, oooh…

    You can clear the room
    By playing Debbie Boone
    Or crank your ABBA records until dawn
    Oh, I could even hear
    Slim Whitman or Zamfir
    Don’t mind a Yoko Ono marathon
    Or play some Tiffany
    On 8-track or CD
    Or scrape your fingernails across the board
    Or tie me to a chair
    And kick me down the stairs
    Just please don’t play that stupid song no more

    Don’t play that song
    That “Achy Breaky” song
    You know I hate that song a bunch
    And if you play that song
    That nauseating song
    It might just make me lose my lunch, oooh…

    Don’t play that song
    That “Achy Breaky” song
    I think it’s driving me insane
    Oh, please don’t play that song
    That irritating song
    I’d rather have a pitchfork in my brain…

    Don’t play that song
    That “Achy Breaky” song
    The most annoying song I know
    And if you play that song
    That “Achy Breaky” song
    I might blow up my radio, oooh-woo…

  77. 77
    MDC says:

    @Tim F.:

    It still strikes me as a little overproduced for a ‘backyard sessions’.

    There’s no way that what we’re hearing was actually recorded at the same time as the video was shot. Most of the instruments don’t even appear to be properly miked. Why call it a “backyard session” and then overdub it with a studio recording?

  78. 78
    Paul in KY says:

    @MCA1: She says she’s playing a character when she does alot of that.

  79. 79
    Paul in KY says:

    @MDC: You know, they could have boom mikes just out of the shot. Been known to happen…

  80. 80
    Nutella says:

    @Joey Maloney:

    “The tongue thing” was all part of her declaration of independence from the Disney moppet factory.

    Nope, because oddly enough, the tongue thing is something she’s been doing for years, even in her moppet stage. Details, possibly more details than you really want to see, are

  81. 81
    MCA1 says:

    @Paul in KY: Yes, that’s sort of obvious, though, right? So was Hannah Montana. In any event, a character, yes, but as what, some sort of satire? Making a statement about people who act like that? Secret wish fulfillment? Lots of acts have a stage persona or two; it’s more powerful if it’s clear what the point of them is, though. If the point here is, as I suspect, as simple as “I’m a grownup now,” well, point poorly made and this particular reader begs to differ. Also, whether it’s her true self or not is sort of immaterial when a large part of her audience is still too young to grasp the difference, and/or irony.

  82. 82
    Glocksman says:


    I’m no audio engineer, but they could have recorded it in the backyard and then mixed in some studio recorded instrumentals during post-production, or the producer just digitally enhanced the shit out of it to the point of making it sound like a studio recording.

  83. 83
    Anna in PDX says:

    Probably been posted, I can’t listen to YouTube links at work, but I am partial to Rhonda Vincent’s bluegrassy version of Jolene. I also love the original Dolly Parton and the slowed-down version. Miley’s version is OK, and I don’t mind her entertainment shenanigans in general, also she did a nice cover of Dylan’s “You’re gonna make me lonesome when you go” on Amnesty’s Chimes of Freedom compilation, and I think she has a decent voice.

  84. 84
    Anna in PDX says:

    @Nutella: Good grief. I think the Fug Girls are funny, but that slideshow was incredibly over the top – I wonder how much time it took them to create it?

  85. 85
    Paul in KY says:

    @MCA1: Liberated party grrl. You need to read the article they had about her in Rolling Stone (around a month ago). Explains her point of view.

  86. 86
    MCA1 says:

    @Paul in KY: If you need a feature in Rolling Stone to describe wtf you’re doing, then I’d suggest that, as the kids say, you’re doing it wrong. :^)

  87. 87
    Paul in KY says:

    @MCA1: She only needed to ‘explain’ it to us people who never come in personal contact with her. You need to read the article.

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