Miley Cyrus may be catching a lot of flak for her anthem to Occupy Wall Street protesters, "Liberty Walk," but in at least one way it is the only piece of protest music ever to personify the very drastic change which its lyrics call for: it relies heavily on auto-tune. In fact, "Auto-Tune This Economy" might have been a way better title, but I'm no Pete Seeger.
And neither is Miley Cyrus, according to a post this morning on the Chronicle of Higher Education by Laurie Essig, who takes the 19-year old pop star to task for creating a song that's "highly produced, slick, and profit motivated," unlike, say, Seeger, who, as popular legend holds, recorded "Bring ‘Em Home" in an aluminum shed and carried the singles around in a knapsack on his U.S. tours to exchange with musically-inclined strangers for a soft bed and maybe a hot meal. I'm sure by "highly produced" Essig means that the lyrics to "Liberty Walk" were probably written in a board room by a cabal of nefarious record producers after they carefully considered a demographics chart and decided that Cyrus' voice was covered with an electronic varnish, but the truth is that is that all music recorded with a big label — as with all movies produced by big studios and all books published with big publishing houses — has discernible characteristics of corporate meddling. Even protest songs. Even protest songs written by Neil Young, Bob Dylan, or Bruce Springsteen, who have all, by the way, profited from exploiting the cultural dissatisfaction or disillusionment of their audiences.