Watch Miley Cyrus Faithfully Cover Paul Simon, the Turtles

19 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Miley Cyrus gives ‘Happy Together’ a smoky makeover in new Happy Hippie Foundation video.

For the final installments of her Backyard Sessions in support of Happy Hippie Foundation, Miley Cyrus performed faithful covers of the Turtles’ “Happy Together” and Paul Simon’s “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover.” Miley takes on the classic tracks by herself, interpreting both songs somberly before showing off her voice on the songs’ booming, catchy choruses. Miley Cyrus has performed with Ariana Grande, Joan Jett, and Against Me!’s Laura Jane Grace for her Happy Hippie Foundation’s Backyard Sessions video series, which raises awareness for vulnerable populations like homeless youth and the LGBT community.

Over the past year, I have become familiar with a particular look that appears on someone’s face when they are considering for the first time that Miley Cyrus might actually be something more than a twerking, smirking, Gremlin-esque Horsewoman of the Apocalypse.Crowded House singer Neil Finn has given his approval to Miley Cyrus and Ariana Grande’s cover of his band’s 1986 hit ‘Don’t Dream It’s Over’. She had previously conquered “50 Ways” at SNL 40, but “Happy Together” is both a new cover and perfect preview of her forthcoming collaborative, psychedelic album with the Flaming Lips. She has also covered Dido’s “No Freedom” and, on Monday, premiered another solo effort through the foundations Facebook partnership, releasing a clip of her covering The Turtles’ 1967 classic, “Happy Together.” Sometimes it’s easy to forget how good Cyrus really is—maybe her outfits sometimes feel louder than her voice. I saw it on the faces of a few friends last week, when we were talking about Miley’s cover of the Replacements’ “Androgynous,” trying to square away our past perceptions of a vacuous Hannah Montana with the startlingly progressive comments Miley has made recently about her gender and sexuality.

Her “Happy Together” cover is streaming below, and you can learn more about her foundation and watch the previously released Backyard Sessions videos on its website. I went mostly out of curiosity: Now that it’s been about two years since “We Can’t Stop,” what would Miley Cyrus even play at this sort of thing? And at almost every turn, the eclectic and uncompromising performance felt like a bit of a fuck-you to anyone who’d come to catch a glimpse of a more polished and conventionally sexy pop star. “I lived a life where I had to be something every day and had to be a character,” Miley said this month in a Time interview, “and it wasn’t necessarily who I wanted to be.

But I also began to wonder if the charity, and discussion around it, has finally given Miley the vocabulary to talk more honestly about her own privilege—a vocabulary she’s been sorely lacking any time she’s been criticized for breezily appropriating black culture. In response to a controversial religious freedom bill that passed in Indiana earlier this year, Cyrus released Senator Tom Cotton’s phone number on social media, encouraging fans to fill his voicemail with messages of protest against the law. 2015 may not bring everything that Back to the Future II promised it would: flying cars, self-lacing shoes, we don’t see ’em happening over the next 12 months. (Then again, don’t bet against Nike.) But this year will definitely pack plenty of punch when it comes to cultural happenings.

More than anything, though, it’s pretty thrilling to watch a female pop star project a sexuality that’s so gleefully liberated from the straitjacket of femininity. Mad Max will roar back out of the apocalypse while Mad Men rides off into the sunset, rock’s Antichrist Superstar and hip-hop’s Yeezus will rise again.

The Miley I saw Wednesday night walked around with a cocksure swagger, even as she was dressed as a glitter-bombed butterfly with pink pasties—a pantomime of femininity so over-the-top it almost felt like drag. (She told the crowd that she always gets her costume ideas “about two days before the show” and fittingly dedicated the night to Amazon Prime.) Toward the end of the set, she covered Khia’s “My Neck, My Back,” seeming to take extra enjoyment in telling the audience of suits to “lick [her] pussy.” Many of them seemed unsure of how to take this. (“Tough crowd,” she’d muttered earlier in the night, and she wasn’t wrong.) “Do you know how many times a day I turn on the radio and it’s some guy telling me to suck his dick?” she asked. The moderates in this debate typically qualify their rhetoric with “We all know we need police, but…” It’s a familiar refrain to those of us who’ve spent years in the streets and the barrios organizing around police violence, only to be confronted by officers who snarl, “But who’ll help you if you get robbed?” We can put a man on the moon, but we’re still lacking creativity down here on Earth. After the VMAs, the media was quick to trot out the old-fashioned female pop-star arc—the Britney narrative—to chastise Miley for her supposed fall from grace. While law enforcers have existed in one form or another for centuries, the modern police have their roots in the relatively recent rise of modern property relations 200 years ago, and the “disorderly conduct” of the urban poor.

I don’t trust Miley to be an exemplary progressive role model at every turn—part of the fun is that she is, unabashedly, a little too sloppy for that—but it’s been nothing short of fascinating to watch her figure all of this out in public. Like every structure we’ve known all our lives, it seems that the policing paradigm is inescapable and everlasting, and the only thing keeping us from the precipice of a dystopic Wild West scenario. Rather than be scared of our impending Road Warrior future, check out just a few of the practicable, real-world alternatives to the modern system known as policing: Unarmed but trained people, often formerly violent offenders themselves, patrolling their neighborhoods to curb violence right where it starts. Stop believing that police are heroes because they are the only ones willing to get in the way of knives or guns – so are the members of groups like Cure Violence, who were the subject of the 2012 documentary The Interrupters.

There are also feminist models that specifically organize patrols of local women, who reduce everything from cat-calling and partner violence to gang murders in places like Brooklyn. While police forces have benefited from military-grade weapons and equipment, some of the most violent neighborhoods have found success through peace rather than war. Violent offenses count for a fraction of the 11 to 14 million arrests every year, and yet there is no real conversation about what constitutes a crime and what permits society to put a person in chains and a cage. Decriminalization doesn’t work on its own: The cannabis trade that used to employ poor Blacks, Latinos, indigenous and poor whites in its distribution is now starting to be monopolized by already-rich landowners.

To quote investigative journalist Christian Parenti’s remarks on criminal justice reform in his book Lockdown America, what we really need most of all is “less.” Also known as reparative or transformative justice, these models represent an alternative to courts and jails. From hippie communes to the IRA and anti-Apartheid South African guerrillas to even some U.S. cities like Philadelphia’s experiment with community courts, spaces are created where accountability is understood as a community issue and the entire community, along with the so-called perpetrator and the victim of a given offense, try to restore and even transform everyone in the process. Communities that have tools to engage with each other about problems and disputes don’t have to consider what to do after anti-social behaviors are exhibited in the first place. In Mexico, where one of the world’s most corrupt police forces only has credibility as a criminal syndicate, there have been armed groups of Policia Comunitaria and Autodefensas organized by local residents for self-defense from narcotraffickers, femicide and police. Obviously these could become police themselves and then be subject to the same abuses, but as a temporary solution they have been making a real impact.

In New York, Rikers Island jails as many people with mental illnesses “as all 24 psychiatric hospitals in New York State combined,” which is reportedly 40% of the people jailed at Rikers. We have created a tremendous amount of mental illness, and in the real debt and austerity dystopia we’re living in, we have refused to treat each other for our physical and mental wounds.

Mental health has often been a trapdoor for other forms of institutionalized social control as bad as any prison, but shifting toward preventative, supportive and independent living care can help keep those most impacted from ending up in handcuffs or dead on the street. Yesterday, the Hollywood Reporter broke the news that screenwriter Alan Wenkus is writing the authorized screenplay of George Jones’ life for the film No Show Jones. Jones says that Wenkus, who wrote the screenplay for the upcoming N.W.A. film Straight Outta Compton, came onboard after reading an early script for the biopic. “He loved it, and he loves George,” Jones says. “We brought him to town, absolutely loved him, and we’ve been working together since November. I don’t want any lies — I want it exactly the way George started the [script] when he started it six years ago.” Jones says she has sat with Wenkus for nearly 10 interviews so far, answering the writer’s questions about the “He Stopped Loving Her Today” singer’s childhood, love of country music and even his relationships, including his tumultuous marriage to country star Tammy Wynette. “We’ll definitely have Tammy in there.

She says she’d like to see Bradley Cooper or Brad Pitt play her late husband and, in her role, Ashley Judd or Sandra Bullock. “Sandra reminds me of me anyway,” says Jones. “But we don’t know yet. In Wenkus, Nancy Jones has an equally focused partner. “We wanted to let the world know who George Jones is,” she says. “To me, he really made country music. It was about 10 minutes past 8:00 p.m. when the lights dimmed at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena and “Beat on the Brat” by the Ramones began blaring out of U2’s massive sound system, kicking off the group’s long-awaited Innocence + Experience Tour. As the band took the stage to a deafening roar from the sold-out crowd, they launched into “The Miracle (of Joey Ramone)” under a single light bulb suspended from the ceiling, meant to evoke Bono’s childhood bedroom.

The group that took a 29,000-square-foot stage known as the Spaceship around the globe on their last tour was now moving forward by going all the way back to where it began. Take it, the Edge.” Not a single screen was activated, giving the crowd at the front of the general admission floor the sensation of seeing the band at tiny club in Dublin 35 years ago.

After getting the audience into a frantic state with “Vertigo,” they went right back to their earliest days with “I Will Follow” before Bono paid tribute to his late mother with “Iris (Hold Me Close).” A giant curtain of LED screens hung above the catwalk in the middle of the arena, connecting the main stage to the B stage – they came alive with still images of Iris Hewson and video of a young Bono. “This is a night about first experiences,” Bono said before playing the intensely personal song. “We don’t want to stay in the past for too long because I’m told that’s not good, but if you don’t go to the past at all I’m told you end up staying there, so we’re going to visit the past now for a few minutes.” The journey back continued with “Cedarwood Road,” another Songs of Innocence tune about Bono’s early years. Young Bono was shown siting in his room under Clash and Kraftwerk posters, strumming a guitar while present-day Bono stood underneath and belted out the tune.

When the tune ended, Larry Mullen Jr. strapped a single drum onto his chest, marching band-style, and began pounding out the familiar beat to “Sunday Bloody Sunday” as he walked toward the center of the catwalk. What came next wasn’t so much an intermission as a video interlude that ran while the band briefly left the stage – a montage of 1970s punk icons like the Clash, the Sex Pistols, Patti Smith and Devo talking and playing bits of their music. U2 haven’t had much of a connection to the punk scene since the early days of the Reagan administration, but it clearly remains close to their hearts.

The night throttled back into high gear with a one-two shot of “Bullet the Blue Sky” and “Pride (In the Name of Love).” The former song was accompanied by images of the stock market and Wall Street workers, seemingly suggesting that the damage once done by American fighter jets is now being done by men in suits at giant financial institutions. When the encore began, the first voice to emerge from the speakers was that of Stephen Hawking: “One planet, one human race,” he said through his famous speech-generating computer. “We are not the same, but we are one.” It sure seemed like the setup for “One,” but it was “City of Blinding Lights” followed by “Beautiful Day.” They were good reminders that U2’s run of hits lasted far beyond the 1980s and 1990s. After a brief speech about the AIDS crisis, they played a portion of Paul Simon’s “Mother and Child Reunion.” It was paired with a video about the disease. “Every day there are more than 600 children born with AIDS,” the screen read. “We can make it zero.” This sentiment got the crowd roaring, and the roar grew louder when the Edge played the opening notes of “Where the Streets Have No Name.” It’s clear why they’ve played this at practically every show they’ve done since the song was new nearly 30 years ago: It can whip a crowd into a frenzy like few songs in rock history. He’s healed up quite nicely, even though he’s still unable to play guitar. “We were gonna end on this,” Bono said. “But we’ll do one more.” It was “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” a concert staple that had previously never been used as a closer.

The third, Terrell Brown Jr., from Florissant, just north of Ferguson, is pleading guilty to a charge of second-degree murder. “Any noise you make, any outbursts in the courtroom, can only hurt Terrell,” a defense attorney tells the assembled family members. Meanwhile, off the lobby, Johnson – who raps under the name Swagg Huncho – reaches his hand up under a vending-machine slot to steal a bag of Red Hot Riplets, a type of local spicy potato chip. He was killed before he could be put away. “Don’t say sorry to me, say sorry to them,” the judge says, gesturing to Faulstich’s parents, the gaunt mother battling tears. “Because I won’t even remember your name by the time I sit down to dinner.” 3 Problems’ best song is called “Come Around.” In it, the guys explain in clear, heartbreaking detail why a young kid would turn to a life of crime. “They say fuck our applications, so we slangin’ dope,” raps Merriweather. “‘Cause you ain’t gotta fill an app just to cop a ‘o.'” (An ‘o’ is an ounce.) Their “For a Fcknigga” video features them pointing semiautomatic guns at the camera in front of an abandoned shipping container. 3 Problems started as something of a boy band. PG singalongs like “Tell the D.J.” (“You can tell the DJ to play our song”) helped them build a following, but were eventually replaced by the more ominous tones of their newer music. Johnson – instantly relatable, exuding charisma – is their ringleader, while Merriweather is the obvious breakout star, with a Drake-like ability to switch between rapping and singing, his braids bouncing as he gleefully threatens adversaries. 3 Problems have opened shows for popular acts like Rich Kidz and Webbie, and are allied with a local crew called Street Sweepers.

But he met a valuable connection inside, a music-industry veteran who taught him how to shape an act. “Hopefully they’ll make it out of a bad situation into a good situation,” he says. Merriweather and Johnson have both been shot at – Merriweather has been hit, though the bullet passed through his arm, and he says he used to steal cars. Louis police, because they thought he had drugs on him. “They took me down to the station and tried to charge me with assaulting an officer, but they didn’t have anything so they let me go.” According to St. Louis PD’s official report on the incident, police had been called “after a report of subjects armed with guns.” Several people dispersed after officers arrived, including Merriweather, but an officer caught up with him. Merriweather “struck the officer in the face with a closed fist,” the report said, adding that a struggle ensued and Merriweather continued to resist arrest until he was pepper-sprayed.

Neither Merriweather nor Johnson knows why Geno was killed, and no one has been convicted of the murder. “He ain’t made it to 18 like we did,” laments Merriweather. To commemorate Geno, he and Johnson got tattoos of his name across their jugulars. (Brown, Jr.’s older brother was also murdered, back in 2007.) Johnson and Merriweather are set to graduate this month. In March, police Chief Thomas Jackson resigned, following the Justice Department’s report in the wake of Brown’s shooting, showing Ferguson’s unjust collection of fines and fees from residents, as well as false arrests.

Brown’s murder didn’t surprise 3 Problems, but it angered them that Darren Wilson was not indicted. “A black officer would have got slammed,” Johnson says. Behind them, another family member’s car plays 3 Problems’ song “Come Around.” Merriweather’s voice comes through the open window: “They say, ‘The worst feeling being broke,’ I say ‘Man I know.’ Where I’m from we got no hope, so we rob folks.”

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