The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

Why Are We Giving Miley Cyrus’ “Flowers” Its Undeserved Flowers?

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The 66th Annual Grammy Awards premiered on Sunday, February 4, 2024. Of the main categories, the Recording Academy awarded Miley Cyrus’ “Flowers” for “Record of the Year,” Taylor Swift’s “Midnights” for “Album of the Year,” Billie Eilish’s “What Was I Made For?” for “Song of the Year,” and Victoria Monet for “Best New Artist.” 

I want to preface that I lost my faith in the Grammy’s as a legit assessment of music when Adele’s derivative “25” beat Beyonce’s masterful blend of R&B, country, and rap, “Lemonade” in 2016. Thus, if my contentious tone is discomforting to you, Dear Reader, “Sorry (I ain’t sorry!).” The Grammys are rife with corruption, as the Weeknd tweeted: “The Grammys remain corrupt. You owe me, my fans and the industry transparency…” After the Grammys snubbed his chart-dominating album, After Hours, of any nominations, The Weeknd told The New York Times that he decided to stop submitting his music for nomination by the institution “because of the secret committees.”

The voting process is deliberately mysterious to protect the privacy of voters. Drew Schwartz of Vice reported that the “nominations review committees” examine the top 20 submissions in 59 different categories. They eventually narrow down the submissions to roughly seven or eight nominees, as reported by Billboard. “The identities of the individuals who make up these committees, all of whom are Grammy voters, are kept confidential. These are the “secret committees” the Weeknd is ostensibly talking about,” Schwartz wrote. 

Essentially, the Recording Academy holds musicians to a standard not based on the quality of music but on politics and the music’s marketing. This is exactly why the dreadfully mediocre “Flowers” took home “Record of the Year.” 

I cannot emphasize enough how much I detest Miley Cyrus’ smash hit. It’s truly a shame that Cyrus finally earned her first Grammy Award after 20 years in the business with such a terrible song. Sonically, the verses on “Flowers” are unmemorable and painfully average with the most basic chord progressions. 

Lyrically, they are as bland as bread: “We were good, we were gold / Kinda dream that can’t be sold / We were right ’til we weren’t / Built a home and watched it burn.” A vapid portrayal of a happy relationship shifting from right to wrong, these lines are devoid of any rawness, which is surprising considering this song is about her divorce from Liam Hemsworth.

Somehow (I didn’t know this was possible), the chorus is worse. Trying to replicate Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” and subvert Bruno Mars’ “When I Was Your Man,” the chorus instead culminates into an insipid self-empowerment anthem. These lines are painfully cringeworthy: “I can buy myself flowers / Write my name in the sand / Talk to myself for hours.” C’mon, people! Do these lines suffice as inspirational to you? All the chorus has going for it is its catchiness factor. 

The production is another weakness; trying to emulate funk with a groovy baseline, but its standard drum beat just sounds like a toddler pouting and stomping around the house. Instead, it sounds like a weak Dua Lipa backtrack. 

Thankfully for radio listeners, her fiery, husky voice carries the song’s mediocrity on its back. However, her voice is not at its full potential here. “Midnight Sky” is a stellar record and a far superior divorce anthem to “Flowers.” In “Midnight Sky,” Cyrus assumes her status as a musical chameleon as she traverses into rock territory. With unfiltered rawness and 70s rock-infused production fused with glossy disco-pop, this song deserved all the recognition “Flowers” is receiving.

Despite its flaws, the song achieved tremendous streaming success. In the United States, the single entered the charts at the top spot and remained there for eight non-consecutive weeks on the Billboard Hot 100. This achievement marked Cyrus’s second chart-topping song since “Wrecking Ball” in 2013.

However, this success is a testament to her label, Columbia Records. After leaving RCA Records and joining Columbia Records, she aligned herself with one of the biggest record labels in the country, Columbia Records, the premier frontline label of Sony Music Entertainment. The record label is the same label that made mega-hits out of the egregiously mediocre songs, “Old Town Road (Remix)” by Lil Nas X and “Closer” by the Chainsmokers. 

The domination of “Flowers” in sales and at the Grammy’s is more of a testament to Columbia’s marketing strategies than the quality of the song. At the Music Week Awards in 2022, Columbia Records won in the Artist Marketing Campaign category for the massively successful campaign of Adele’s “Easy On Me.” Columbia Records has successfully cracked the campaign formula, and “Flowers” stands as their brilliant marketing product. However, I can’t say the same about “Flowers” as a piece of art.

I want to conclude with a note to any “Flowers” superfans; this article is simply my humble opinion. If I hurt your feelings with my critique, I do not wish to offend you. However–I apologize for quoting Beyonce twice–“Sorry (I ain’t sorry)!!!!”

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About the Contributor
Anastasia Fowler, Managing Arts & Leisure Editor
Ana is a senior from Westfield, NJ double-majoring in English and Politics. In her free time, Ana enjoys singing with her a cappella group, photosynthesizing in the quad or at the beach, kicking the soccer ball around with buddies, and seeing live music. Previously, Ana served as a Contributing Writer for The Student.

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