1. Shock & Denial
Somewhere on Facebook a friend from high school who you haven’t talked to in years will link to the original Wrecking Ball film clip and proclaim music dead (RIP). You’ll watch the clip and be horrified that some girl is licking a sledgehammer. You’ll cringe at the opening shot of her crying, think that the wrecking ball metaphor is fucking stupid and believe that music is indeed dead.
2. Anger & Bargaining
Disappointed that music is dead, you’ll read Sinead O’Connor’s open letter to Miley and agree that licking a sledgehammer and swinging naked on a wrecking ball is #notcool. Maybe you’ll also read the Amanda Palmer open letter and begin sympathising with some of the stuff she’s writing. Is it really a bad thing that a young woman is exploring and celebrating her sexuality? Conflicted, you’ll think that maybe a girl can have her sledgehammer and lick it too.
3. The Upward Turn
Another friend on Facebook will link to that mash-up of Wrecking Ball and Little Lion Man. Or maybe they’ll send you to the video of Wrecking Ball intercut with Miley’s #enemy Sinead O’Connor singing Nothing Compares 2U. Something will click. Maybe it won’t be the song just yet, but backed by the strings of Sinead’s song, you might at least accept that Miley can sing.
4. Reconstruction & Working Through
Now more than mildly curious, you’ll revisit the Wrecking Ball video on Youtube. But instead of getting the sledgehammer-licking version, you’ll find yourself watching the Director’s Cut. Stark, dignified and well shot, the video will convince you to properly listen to the song for the first time. Noticing the tear running down her face as she sings about not wanting to start a war you’ll begin thinking that the song really isn’t that bad.
5. Acceptance & Hope
2am. Misty eyed and drunk on regret, somewhere on a seedy dance floor it will finally hit you: this song is actually amazing. Marvel at the first time the dubstep inspired chorus hits or the way she says picks apart the syllables of ‘wrecked’. Find yourself agreeing with a friend that yes, the wrecking ball metaphor is indeed the best figure of speech to grace popular music since Rihanna was saying shit about an Umbrella.
And perhaps the finality of the acceptance will say something more to you. Stripped of pretense, popular music remains something more than just an open letter or an argument about whether a young woman is allowed to be sexually aggressive. More than a bizarre film clip or some rando Twitter #fued.
It’s the night you got high and realised Ke$ha’s hedonism wasn’t really that far removed from your own experience of being twenty-one and emotionally unstable. Or maybe it was the first time you heard the blaring horns at the start of Crazy In Love and were left with no doubt that Beyonce was the only reason Destiny’s Child ever existed.
Maybe none of this will happen. You’ll reject the song and Miley from the off; popular music is a distraction, obsessed with conspicuous consumption and warping the minds of vulnerable young people. Of course none of this will matter to Cyrus. Twerking on a pile of hundred dollar bills, Miley probably doesn’t give one fuck about what you think. And maybe that’s the point anyway?