Whose 'Wrecking Ball' Is Better, Springsteen's Or Miley's?

Whose 'Wrecking Ball' Is Better, Springsteen's Or Miley's?

Like when Pixar released A Bug's Life and Dreamworks put out Antz, or two movies came out this spring about terrorists taking over the White House, two very famous artists released songs with the identical title of "Wrecking Ball."  Do you think Bruce Springsteen knew what Miley was up to, so to up the ante, he also released an album of the same name?  Probably not.  He wrote his song in '09 and the album  came out in 2012.  Miley Cyrus didn't write her song (5 other people did), so she probably didn't know at the time of Springsteen's release where her life was going.  Regardless, which song is better?

Whose 'Wrecking Ball' Is Better, Springsteen's Or Miley's?

Even though Springsteen's song has been out longer, more people probably know Miley's "Wrecking Ball."  It's a #1 single in the United States of America.  Springsteen's song was never released as a single, although the song has been performed live for 4 years.  The Wrecking Ball album was also a #1 LP (ha!  LP!).

Let's listen to both songs.  Ladies first.

I know what you're thinking.  'Nice boots.'

Now, on to The Boss's own "Wrecking Ball."  Here it live at the 12/12/12 concert.  Had Miley's song been written yet?

My first thought is that Miley's song is better.  No offense, Bruce, but the melody is catchy, the harmonies sound better, and it's got that power ballad-style arrangement that was invented by God to pull us in.

However - however - Miley's song is missing one thing: Heart.  Her voice isn't natural on the song.  It's got effects on it to make her sound just slightly less human (or more human?) than us.  She's got the power of 5 songwriters and 2 "hot" producers, plus a budget just south of what we paid to fight the Iraq War.  

Bruce?  You know he sat on a bus, in a dressing room, on his hotel toilet, writing this song by himself.  There were two producers on the album, but Springsteen was one of the two.  And as you watch him perform the song, even though it's a little, sorry - dull in the beginning, when it does pick up, it has a certain energy (more human!) than Miley's.  He knew what he was doing because his Rock N Roll Soul led him to that point in the song, where the band came in and they rocked the house.  

Miley's?  A sweet song contrived purely to build her into the biggest star in the world today.

Miley's people succeeded.  The twerking, the look, the song, the publicly acting out - she's arguably the world's #1 star at this moment.

Arguably, that was Bruce Springsteen back in 1974/1975.  Only he got that big through HIS music and HIS passion and touring and playing and working 26 hours a day.  

Bruce never had to sit naked on a metal sphere to get attention.  He wrote songs about girls like Miley before girls like Miley were born.  Listen to "Racing In The Street."  You think that girl is a future Miley Cyrus?  Unless she really knows what she's doing and she's a lot smarter than many of us believe her to be, she's in for a big fall one day.  Maybe not in the next year or two.  But eventually, there will be another Miley Cyrus in 2015.  Another Miley Cyrus in 2017.  Is today's Miley Cyrus good enough to still put out albums in 25 or 35 years?

For her sake, we hope so.

Which version of "Wrecking Ball" do you like better?  Why?

Dave Philp is Assistant Professor of Music Management at William Paterson University and Chief Organizer Guy of YouChoose, a live events music fundraising and social media company that has raised many, many thousands of dollars for non-profit causes. Join the good fight and help change your corner of the world by visiting YouChoose now: http://myyouchoose.com/. To sign up for our email newsletter, click HERE. Mmkay?