Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus’ guest appearances on“Twerk,” their collaborative single with friend and noted car-crasher rapper Lil Twist leaked online early Wednesday morning.
Now, two versions of the R&B/Hip-hop hybrid are currently being futilely pulled from the web. One with Lil Twist on it and one without. Futile, because the 2:34 minutes of zeitgeist averageness that is “Twerk” rides a pop culture wave and a moment in time when a dance form that has been a part of black culture for decades is debated as if it’s just been invented, and Oxford Dictionaries Online officially recognized the word yesterday — though Slate disputes that.
With perfect timing after Cyrus’ near-naked twerk-fest with Robin Thicke to perform his hit “Blurred Lines” at MTV’s Video Music Awards five days ago, their unholy pas de deux is being talked up as the fuel behind the present nadir — which it is — albeit mostly because of the outrage it inspired.
So, is the Bieber-Cyrus-Lil Twist “Twerk” trinity any good?
Although it’s a leak and probably not the final cut, first and repeated impressions aren’t great. But it is catchy and it does have the Justin-Miley double whammy to power its ascent up future charts.
First announced in July and produced by Maejor Ali, “Twerk” is most likely destined for Lil Twist’s Young Money album Bad Decisions. The 20-year-old rapper reportedly orchestrated the leak to take advantage of Cyrus’ momentum.
And who can blame him?
“Twerk” version with Cyrus and Bieber only.
Over at Noisey, Miley’s so-called appropriation of black culture is discussed as her “throwing black culture in the face of mainstream white America.” So, perhaps Lil Twist’s alleged leak is his way of clawing a little control back even as he becomes the invisible man on his own creation.
We’re told Miley is having her “Elvis moment,” courtesy of her oxygen-sucking VMAs performance, and Jody Rosen’s much debated antipathy to “its very real ties to minstrelsy.” Mention is made of Bieber’s enthusiasm for rap, hip-hop styling and its mannerisms, as if this is some great sin from a 19-year-old who was mentored by Usher, grew up (pre-record deal) listening to Tupac, Chris Brown and Jay Z to name a few, and is obviously musically and socially open to both black and white culture.
But, while everyone from Kelly Clarkson, Paramore’s Hayley Williams, the Parents Television Council, Teddy Bear Charities, a chunk of older Internet users, and general viewing public, have taken umbrage at the Cyrus-Thicke performance — a record 10.1 million tuned in and Viacom are delighted. Meanwhile the buzz could do wonders for Miley’s upcoming Bangerz album and present “Twerk” track.
Somewhat bizarrely, but it would be in keeping with his persona to cock a hoop at the Establishment, Spin reports Kanye West has invited the new queen of twerk to collaborate on a “Black Skinhead” remix. Oddly enough, I find myself awaiting that opus with genuine anticipation.
“Twerk” offers little in the way of great lyrics. It opens with — “[Hey Girl] I came up in this party time to twerk, I came up in this party and I’m turned… twerk [x 8]”— before Bieber’s verse.
“Hey pretty girl, tell me your name. The way that you move, baby I’m happy you came. I’ve been looking for ya for a while now. Come and talk to ya but it’s [inaudible, possibly “dark now”]. Baby we can take it slow. Don’t need nobody to know. Let me see you get out on the floor girl. We gon’ party all night until it’s over,” the Canadian sings.
Intellectual discussions about African-American appropriation and finger-wagging puritanism aside, I wouldn’t have any problem with “Twerk” the single if it was great. But it really isn’t. On the positive, the hypocritical hand-wringing — given the still-present objectification of women and racial tangents off that — regarding the whole topic is potentially cathartic, and the track’s final cut may yet redeem it.
“Twerk” version with Lil Twist, Bieber, and Cyrus.
[Image via AceShowbiz]