Miley Cyrus, Metallica And Why You Can't Truly Love Music If You're A Gatekeeper

Miley Cyrus, Metallica And Why You Can't Truly Love Music If You're A Gatekeeper

The purists need to take a step back...

Miley Cyrus has been on something of a tear.

In recent years, the former Hannah Montana star has dropped classic cover after classic cover of legendary bangers such as Daryl Hall & John Oates’ ‘Maneater’, Blondie’s ‘Heart of Glass’ and even Nine Inch Nails’ ‘Head Like A Hole’ – the latter of which was featured in the rather on-the-nose, Cyrus-starring finale of the latest season of Netflix’s Black Mirror.

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Earlier this month, Cyrus announced that she is planning to release a covers album consisting entirely of... Metallica songs. 2020 really is the wildest of wild years, folks. Naturally, this news set the internet – and Twitter, obviously – ablaze. Conversation about Miley goin’ metal was met with a lot of positivity, with a number of Twitter users correctly pointing out that the project has the potential to introduce younger, new fans to Metallica’s music.

Miley Cyrus has continuously proved herself to be one of the most relevant and almost omnipotent performers in modern music. She seems to reinvent herself every couple of years and, to her credit, absolutely throws herself into her work. To any right-thinking person, this would be enough reason to be optimistic that Cyrus is going to do Metallica proud – especially when you look back at her fantastic cover of ‘Nothing Else Matters’ from last year’s Glastonbury Festival.

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Not everyone is as happy about this news, however. If you spend enough time reading the replies to articles from publications like Kerrang! or Loudwire, you will find a mild-to-moderate amount of negativity from music ‘fans’ who still seem to think ‘pop’ is a dirty word, and that being a popstar is somehow an automatic disqualification from ever being allowed to approach rock and metal. God knows how they’ll react when they see the recent David Hasselhoff news – probably the same way they did when he did that awful cover of David Bowie’s ‘‘Heroes’’.

Gatekeeping has been a very real issue in music culture for basically as long as music fandom has existed. It’s a toxic mindset that has never actually benefitted anyone but gatekeepers themselves because they feel, for some reason, gratified that they get to choose and approve who gets to be interested in their favourite genres and bands as if anyone actually gives a damn about what they have to say. As if Miley flippin’ Cyrus is going to see Joe Lastname’s dismissive tweet and think “y’know what fellers, I might as well just pack it in”.

Newsflash to anyone who thinks that gatekeeping is in any way a good thing to artists and music culture as a whole: you’re not a knight in shining armour, you’re an idiot in tin foil.

The general ostracization of pop music and pop musicians as well as the overarching idea that they somehow require less talent than somebody who knows how to pick up a guitar, crank up the gain on a distortion pedal and press record is not only ridiculous, but incredibly outdated. - Have you seen the chops on some pop performers?! Have you ever listened to ABBA?! Have you ever listened to the bloody Beach Boys?!

You simply can’t love a band, genre or even music as a whole as much as you think you do if you aren’t willing to embrace interpretations of your favourite stuff from artists outside of that particular sphere. Miley Cyrus taking a stab at heavy metal is objectively a good thing. Imagine if Debbie Harry never tried her hand at rapping – Blondie wouldn’t have scored the first number-one single featuring rap vocals in the United States! Blondie made literal music history by daring to venture outside of their comfort zone.

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The former Disney star is looking to do nothing but pay tribute to arguably the most successful heavy metal band that has ever existed, and that’s great. Metallica truly are a band that deserve to be remembered for evermore, and Cyrus’ passion project will do more for preserving the legacy of one of America’s greatest musical acts than any act of gatekeeping ever will. Metallica themselves have yet to comment on the news, but it’s hard to imagine they won’t give their blessing to it. It’s not like Cyrus is fixing to bring Napster back, or anything.

If you are the kind of person to act this way towards somebody who is literally just trying to live their best life free of harassment and entitlement, you should take a long look in the mirror and resolve to change your actions for the better. Stop it. Realise the artists you’re gatekeeping would absolutely hate what you’re doing. You’re only harming the bands, artists and music scenes you claim to love. Help instead of hinder.

Let a wave of new, young and eager fans roll in and enjoy a... mostly good back catalogue of great 75% American heavy metal. Let Miley Cyrus, music’s perennial news magnet, bring that attention to them. The covers album will most likely be good, it’s Miley Cyrus! She’s great! It doesn’t harm anything at all, nothing will be tainted and only good can come of it. If the album does end up a bit Enter Blandman, just go listen to Metallica. Their music will still be as good as it ever was. It’s a literal win/win situation.

Let’s get excited for Miley Goes Metal #1! Cyrus hasn’t confirmed what tracks she’ll be covering for the as yet untitled album, but as long as ‘Lulu’ is adequately represented amongst the immense amount of Metallica goodness, nothing else matters.

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Words: R.A. Hagan

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