It has been a rocky 2020 in more ways than one: this year has seen everyone from Rina Sawayama and Machine Gun Kelly pull influence from the genres of rock and metal (sending many a neckbeard into a frenzy of Caps Lock comments in the process). Miley Cyrus’ forthcoming seventh album ‘Plastic Hearts’ looks to do the same. Lead single ‘Midnight Sky’, released over summer, is a Fleetwood Mac-sampling stadium anthem, while the Dua Lipa featuring ‘Prisoner’ is more rough and ready.
Dua Lipa might be the odd one out on a tracklist that also includes guest spots from old skool rockstars Joan Jett and Billy Idol, but she’s the perfect partner in crime for Miley, as they take the basement snarl of punk and give it some ’80s disco swagger. Pop music with bite, or grunge with a little razzle-dazzle? Either way, it’s the best of both their worlds.
‘Prisoner’ also sees the stars draw influence from Olivia Newton-John’s raunchy ’80s classic ‘Physical’ – but in true 2020 spirit, this track is about feeling trapped in your own emotions rather than lusty contact (hardly COVID-friendly). Packed with attitude and big on Thelma and Louise energy, the track gives Dua’s excitably shiny ‘Future Nostalgia’ space to shine without forcing Miley out of the spotlight. They elevate each other rather than competing. If only every collaboration had this balance.
And don’t be fooled by the isolation-inspired angst (“Strung out on a feeling, my hands are tied / Your face on my ceiling, I fantasise”) because Dua and Miley aren’t standing for anyone’s nonsense. With the bloodstained video – which sees the duo cruising through the US in a kind of goth bus – coming with the dedication “in loving memory all my exes – eat shit”, this heartache anthem is a glam declaration of independence that goes off like a cherry bomb.
This year, both artists have come into their own and taken on the world. True to the song’s title, Miley and Dua really don’t take any prisoners here.