So I know that Miley Cyrus has been all over the news lately. First it was for her performance at the VMAs with Robin Thicke and now for her newly released music video for her latest single “Wrecking Ball”. She just can’t seem to stop causing controversy, can she? Well, whatever, this post mostly isn’t about her but the band featured in the other video above this, TwentyForSeven. Based out of Canton, MI, TwentyForSeven has been on the scene for almost three years now I believe. Well, okay, that’s how long they’ve been posting videos on YouTube which is sort of the same thing right?
Let’s just jump right into it shall we? Okay. Now, obviously I’m a big fan of TwentyForSeven otherwise I wouldn’t be showing you guys their video. I’m not quite sure I remember exactly how I discovered them but I do know that I’ve known of them since fairly early on in their career. They promote themselves as a pop/rock group which I’ve always found interesting because I tend to think of them more as an acoustic pop or maybe alt-pop group. The point I’m trying to make is that they have a more acoustic sound to their music, even with their original work which is something that I quite enjoy. It’s harder to find good acoustic groups or acoustic-leaning groups, I think, because it means that the music, the rhythms, and the voice all have to be able to hold their own without relying on a heavy bass or back beat from a bass guitar or drum set. It also often times makes the songs more real, giving them a rawer feel which might be why I actually prefer TwentyForSeven’s cover of “Wrecking Ball“ to the original.
I’ve kind of been obsessed with the cover since it came out and there’s probably a few reasons why. The arrangement of the song would be the first one. It also doesn’t hurt that the boys making up TwentyForSeven are good (and cute). But going back to the first point. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of how choppy Miley sings the verses. For those who don’t know what I mean, I’m talking about the fact that during the verses, every few words her voice goes up cutting off the end of the word or phrase. I understand that stylistically speaking that’s just preference but I’m not as crazy about it. So for that I definitely like TwentyForSeven’s version better as they sing it a bit more legato. But also, let’s stop and pay attention to the lyrics for a second, shall we? “Don’t you ever say I just walked away/ I will always want you/ I can’t live a lie, running for my life/I will always want you….I put you high up in the sky/And now, you’re not coming down/It slowly turned, you let me burn/And now, we’re ashes on the ground” are two of the verses from the song, not to mention the chorus: “I came in like a wrecking ball/I never hit so hard in love/All I wanted was to break your walls/All you ever did was break me/Yeah, you wrecked me.” It’s a story about how two people in love crashed and burned. It’s sad, it’s tragic, it’s raw. But it doesn’t necessarily come across as such. And arrangement preferences are only part of that.
Music videos give artists the chance to tell the story of the song in a different light. Some artists stick fairly close to what people would expect while others use the music video to give viewers a new perspective on the song. I think I can speak for most of us that have seen the music video when I say that Miley took it somewhere not many were expecting. Though, I suppose given her post-Hannah Montana makeover, I shouldn’t have been so surprised. I did see the video for “We Can’t Stop” after all. Even so, the teasing nudity and blatant sexuality that oozed throughout the video was unexpected. Who would have that thought you could be sexy while singing (and supposedly mourning) the loss of a close friend or relationship? I think that’s what I find the hardest to believe about this whole thing. The song and the video don’t really relate to each other at all. Yes, there’s a sledgehammer and a wrecking ball in the video and yes, technically she’s crying in the close ups but those are about the only things that make sense in the video. The nudity is unnecessary and I can’t even imagine what the point of her trying to French the sledgehammer is. Even the close ups of her crying though don’t look real. Isn’t she supposed to be an actress? I’m not sure anyone else noticed this but to me her eyes looked dead. Not dead, blank. No emotion. She just stared straight ahead (most likely into one of those bright circle lights to produce the tears) without actually looking at or engaging with the camera.
Conversely, TwentyForSeven’s video interprets the song in a completely different way. It’s a very simple setting, showcasing the members of the band and alternates between focuses on the instruments being played and the boys singing. With the simpler setting and the acoustic-like music, it’s much easier to actually focus on the song itself and I think that the emotions that you would think would be associated with it are better conveyed. It’s not such a mixed message. Also, can we go back to the eyes thing for a minute? Rajiv’s eyes (lead singer) look 100x more sincere than Miley’s. They both have a close up on the same part of the song (Don’t you ever say I just walked away/I will always want you…) but the difference is that he actually shows emotion. His eyes and the rest of his expression actually look a tad sad and nostalgic as if remembering the broken relationship. I know, I know, he’s not crying but I think I’ll take real emotion over blank stares.
I realize that this post kind of sounds like I’m ripping on Miley. I’m not. Okay, well maybe I am a little but either I just reeeaallly did not understand the concept or she missed the mark with this video. I also realize that this is just my opinion so feel free to shoot me a comment if you think differently about either of the “Wrecking Ball” renditions. Or if you agree. And if there’s any group or artist you think I should check, let me know! I’m always on the prowl for new groups.