Monday, June 18, 2018
Music News, Concert Reviews

Can't stop talking about Miley's tongue

For Miley Cyrus, her tongue, even more than her twerking, has become her trademark, for better or blech. Put a camera or a crowd in front of her and the former Disney star just can't keep that lolling licker inside her maw, even when it comes to demolition equipment.

So fine, Miley, you have our attention. And that wayward tongue is telling us a lot.

We see a 21-year-old who is no longer a girl but not quite a woman of the world, to paraphrase another controversy-courting poplet, the poet Britney Spears. With a saucy serpentine flick, Cyrus is both brat and seductress. And we the public — both turned off and titillated — can't stop tweeting about this curious emblem of 21st century popular culture: silly, slightly disrespectful and unleashed by a powerful artist who knows how to take full advantage of it.

She's not the first to try such shenanigans. The rock-star tongue has been flapping out there for decades. At one point, especially as the iconic logo for the Rolling Stones, it was a symbol of cool, of rebellion, of winkingly subversive sex appeal. For Gene Simmons of Kiss, it was all about pure backstage lust; it might as well have been forked.

Now the rock-star tongue represents youth-driven, social-media culture, everyone desperate to be noticed, to test boundaries, to take selfies that stand out from all those others.

Miley offers a simple explanation for so much tongue.

"I just stick my tongue out because I hate smiling in pictures," Cyrus told Rolling Stone. "It's so awkward. It looks so cheesy. Now people expect it — like, 'Put your tongue out!' "

And so she does.

Over and over again.

• • •

Whatever the reasons, Cyrus, easily the most talked-about celebrity of 2013, has made her tongue one of the most provocative images in current pop culture. MTV named her its best artist of the year, but rest assured it wasn't only for ubiquitous No. 1 song We Can't Stop.

Even ABC News, hopefully on a slow news day, reported a straight-faced story on the hue of the pop star's mouth: "When a patient's tongue is covered in a grayish-white coating, it's a sign that patient has taken antibiotics that have killed some of the natural bacteria in the mouth, allowing fungus to settle in."

Her tongue also had a pivotal starring role in her Wrecking Ball video, the most viewed of 2013, with 371 million global hits. Cyrus' gamboling about naked on the titular sphere wasn't the only reason so many of us watched (and watched and watched); she also licked a sledgehammer for no apparent reason.

But maybe there actually was a reason for that sledgehammer licking (which is easily the weirdest sentence I've ever written).

"(Sticking your tongue out) starts when we were children," says Vincent Slomin, a retired clinical psychologist from St. Petersburg. "We would put out our tongues as a way to snuff or put a person off."

When we get older, the tongue becomes a sexual symbol. And there's obviously a lot of that going on with Cyrus, who is famously clothes-averse. For the Disney star, Slomin says, "now she's really into Fantasyland."

Sex aside — which is not so easy considering what Cyrus did to a foam finger at the MTV Video Music Awards this year — there's also the matter of her celebrity and her desperate desire to hold on to it.

"This is all about 'how do I get attention from other people,' " says Mark Durand, a professor of psychology at University of South Florida St. Petersburg. "This is all about 'Look at me!' In our society, you have to go pretty far out there to stand out."

If you've seen Miley's tongue, well, it goes pretty far out there.

But sooner or later, we'll get tired of the tongue, and as a matter of adaptability, so will Cyrus. The twerking will cease, too.

"Like Madonna and Lady Gaga, she's going to have to move on and do something else outrageous," Durand says. "The tongue will be irrelevant."

Miley's not licked just yet. Not even close. For now, that tongue will continue its torment and titillation. But sooner or later, the only thing coming out of her mouth will be hits.

Sean Daly can be reached at [email protected] Follow @seandalypoplife on Twitter and Instagram.

Comments
Kesha, 311, ‘Walking Dead,’ more announce cruises departing from Tampa

Kesha, 311, ‘Walking Dead,’ more announce cruises departing from Tampa

Kesha faced the camera with a gleam behind her sunglasses and addressed her fans."We're going on a cruise!" she said in an announcement video unveiled Thursday. "We should all go on this cruise together. So I'll see you on the high seas of the Caribb...
Published: 06/15/18
Hall and Oates are cool again, and they talked to us

Hall and Oates are cool again, and they talked to us

We will, in a minute, get to how Daryl Hall and John Oates suddenly got so cool.But first, Oates has to tell you about the time he almost wrestled Skrillex on stage.It happened at the 2016 Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival in South Florida. Oates, w...
Published: 06/14/18
Auditions for ‘America’s Got Talent’ coming to Tampa

Auditions for ‘America’s Got Talent’ coming to Tampa

Do you sing? Tell jokes? Dance? Can you balance your Scottish terrier on your nose?Then circle Dec. 10 on your calendar, because that's the day America's Got Talent auditions are coming to Tampa. The show will set up camp and judge your talents start...
Published: 06/13/18
This week’s best Tampa Bay concerts: Maroon 5, Joan Jett, Styx and more

This week’s best Tampa Bay concerts: Maroon 5, Joan Jett, Styx and more

MANY VOICES: Maroon 5Remember when Adam Levine crooned the hook on Kanye West’s 2005 single Heard ’Em Say? Feels like a lifetime ago; it’s hard to imagine ’Ye and the Maroon 5 frontman booking studio time together in 2018. Or at least, it would be, i...
Published: 06/13/18
Photos: Royal Blood brings lean rock riffs to Jannus Live in St. Petersburg

Photos: Royal Blood brings lean rock riffs to Jannus Live in St. Petersburg

The Jannus Live courtyard was packed and primed for some serious rock 'n' roll business Tuesday night as British rock duo Royal Blood made their local debut in St. Petersburg.Singer-bassist Mike Kerr and drummer Ben Thatcher brought about as lean a m...
Published: 06/13/18
USF Sun Dome’s new name: The Yuengling Center

USF Sun Dome’s new name: The Yuengling Center

One of Tampa Bay's biggest concert venues is getting a new name.The USF Sun Dome — home over the years to concerts by the likes of Madonna, Frank Sinatra, U2, Whitney Houston, Elton John and Arcade Fire — is changing its name to the Yueng...
Published: 06/12/18
SoundBytes: Nick Cannon, Jeremih, Teyana Taylor, Echosmith and more

SoundBytes: Nick Cannon, Jeremih, Teyana Taylor, Echosmith and more

— Nick Cannon is taking his popular MTV series Wild 'N Out on tour, and it's coming to Tampa. The show — which will feature game segments, stand-up from some of its most popular stars and "a live music performance from today's most popula...
Published: 06/12/18
Toto will bless the rains down in Africa at Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall this fall

Toto will bless the rains down in Africa at Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall this fall

We're officially living in a world owned by Toto's Africa.The 1982 hit seems to keep finding new, more vibrant life online every day. The most recent example: Weezer's fan-mandated cover version, which this week actually landed on Billboard's Hot 100...
Published: 06/12/18
Ticket window: Nick Cannon, Romeo Santos, Toto, Howie Mandell, more on sale this week

Ticket window: Nick Cannon, Romeo Santos, Toto, Howie Mandell, more on sale this week

Tickets for the following events go on sale this week:• Romeo Santos, 8 p.m. Oct. 12 at Amalie Arena, Tampa, $35.75-$496.25, on sale at 10 a.m. Friday at the box office, 401 Channelside Drive (walk-up only), and via Ticketmaster at Ticketmaster.com, ...
Published: 06/11/18
Updated: 06/13/18
SoundBytes: Steve Aoki, Orgy, Alkaline Trio, the Toasters and more

SoundBytes: Steve Aoki, Orgy, Alkaline Trio, the Toasters and more

— Superstar DJ Steve Aoki is coming back to the Ritz Ybor on Nov. 2. Tickets go on sale Tuesday. Click here for details.— Alkaline Trio is bringing their upcoming summer tour to the House of Blues in Orlando on Aug. 26. Tickets are $23 an...
Published: 06/11/18