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Miley Cyrus - Flowers

“New year, new Miley” read the wheatpaste posters beside the exposed slice of stomach that’s somehow recognizable, all by itself, as Miley Cyrus. But even the pop star’s most ambitious aesthetic makeovers never truly manage to detract from the fundamental Miley-ness of her affairs. It’s part of what makes her such a celebrated covers artist; this is the woman who oozes so much charisma they named her for her smile, the one who’s going to revive the moribund state of network TV New Year’s Eve programming through sheer star power.

Sucks that her original material is often not as compelling. “Flowers,” the lead single and first track from the upcoming Endless Summer Vacation, starts in a similar position as 2020’s Plastic Hearts, with a story of a broken relationship that scans as a reference to her split from ex-husband, Liam Hemsworth, in 2019. This time, instead of stomping through heartbreak to the sound of ’80s rock, she’s doing something like twangy disco funk, with a sour string section that gives her revenge anthem the faintest hint of flamenco. But calling it revenge is a reach, not when Shakira is ready to call you a Twingo: What we’re really dealing with here is self-help, and as a pitch for loving yourself first, “Flowers”’ visions of long-stemmed bouquets and long walks on the beach couldn’t be more generic. “No remorse, no regret/I forget every word you said,” Miley sings, and it might have been more interesting if she didn’t sound so sincerely unbothered.

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