Malibu is the lead single from Miley Cyrus’ as-yet-untitled new album. It’s also a comeback single of sorts: Her last album, recorded with Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips, was a hit-free flop that barely troubled the charts. So, is this the song that will resurrect her flagging recording career? Is this her new Wrecking Ball? Let’s listen and find out!
0:01 – Intro
Oooh – a guitar! Is guitar music making a comeback? Are we at last seeing the great pop pendulum swing away from generic electropop back to the Les Paul?
The Kellogg’s-Kodaline Kerfuffle: Not to be confused with Krusty’s Komedy Klassic.
0:34 – Some more verse
Ok, so we’re getting a double verse. The first verse wasn’t all that memorable or hooky, but it’s fine. It’s common to have a double first verse, as long as they promise to never do it again.
0:48 – Pre-Chorus
It’s the pre, and it’s sparse and clappy. Pulling out the kick – a classic move! (Learn more classic pre-chorus tricks)
1:01 – Chorus
The chorus is here, and boy is it weak! The return of the kick (and its doubling in pace) gives the production some energy, but the topline is a damp squib. There’s no hook, and we’re pretty much in the same note range as the verse. Lyrically, it just repeats the same line a few times, which would be fine if the line wasn’t a ‘you/Malibu’ couplet written by a rhyming dictionary bot.
Also, have I used the ‘Malibu? More like Mali-poo’ line yet? I have no time to read back on what I’ve already written, because we’re diving straight into verse 2.
1:15 – Verse 2
I imagine those Kodaline chaps will soon be Koda-lining up a lawsuit. #zinger
1:56 – More verse 2
Hold on, is verse 2 still going? Are we seriously getting another double verse? The song is 3 minutes 47 seconds – why does it need pointless padding?
2:10 – Pre-Chorus 2
Thanks be to jayzaz, verse 2 is over at last. The sparse, pared-back pre offers some respite. Also: it now includes acoustic guitar strums! Is this the opening salvo of a Hootie and the Blowfish revival?
Ah, the 90s – innocent times. Who could’ve known that ‘Only Wanna Be With You’ wouldn’t be Hootie lead singer Darius Rucker’s worst contribution to music?
2:23 – Chorus 2
This chorus is still incredibly weak. I’m flicking between the first and second choruses, and the only new element here is the aforementioned acoustic guitar strums. This is straight out of Pop Arrangement 101.
2:37 – Bridge (aka Middle 8)
No lyrics, just ‘aaaahs’. That’s some solid non-lexical vocables right there. It’s also another lift from Kodaline’s gift-that-keeps-on-giving All I Want. I imagine John Kodaline will be seething when he hears this.
3:04 – Chorus 3
Well, here we are, a final chorus. Everything is pretty much the same as before. I have nothing new to add, and neither did the producer. #zinger
3:19 – Outro
Oh, and there’s an outro. It’s a pared-back verse-chorus hybrid. It’s also an acknowledgment that the chorus melody is utterly interchangeable with the verse melody. A songwriting fail of the highest order.
So there we have it. A terribly underwritten song backed by a bogstandard production job. Songwriting-wise, you’re better off listening to the original Kodaline track on which it seems to be based. Production-wise, you may as well be listening to my 4-track home recordings from when I was 16. I get that it’s going for that chilled Mr. Probz Waves vibe, but as a lead single for a new album, it’s an embarassingly underwhelming reintroduction to Miley. If this is the best track she had up her sleeve, it’s not a good sign for the rest of the album. While it’s admittedly nice to have her back, Malibu is no Wrecking Ball.
Thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed our latest Live Blog. Is there a new tune you’d like us to listen to next? If so, let us know in the comments!