The nostalgia factor has been dialed up to at least eleven lately with the news that Miley Cyrus,
Selena Gomez, and Ariana Grande would all be releasing new music. The pop mainstays’ new
projects all ring with an unignorable connection to the past, and focus on the sensation of youth
from multiple perspectives.
Miley’s new song, “Used To Be Young” is her first piece of new music since releasing Endless
Summer Vacation back in March. She teased the song with trailers and tweets before the song
and video arrived officially last Friday. Building up to a soft and emotional power ballad, Cyrus takes a stroll down memory lane, immediately invoking a sentimental recollection of her past experiences, debaucheries, teachable moments, and all that comes with a fervent reflection and assessment of all the things that made her who she is today. “I feel proud when reflecting on my past and optimistic when thinking about the future,” Miley said in a press release. The twinkling second chorus when the soft percussion enters reflects this hopefulness, and the fact that the song, according to her, is “unfinished” becomes “a part of its beauty. This is my life at this moment… unfinished yet complete.”
Perhaps even more anticipated is “Single Soon,” the newest song from Selena Gomez. She makes her return to music, following the 2021 majority Spanish language EP Revelación, and her 2020 album Rare, as well as her starring role across three seasons of “Only Murders In The Building.” With its mix of modern, 2000s, and ‘80s electro- and synth-pop, it’s an unfettered, liberating look at someone excited about their impending romantic freedom. Scenes in the video reflect a young woman’s night out; she may be getting used to pouring back into herself. We watch her, with abandon, through a nice dinner, a photo-filled ride to the next location, a carefree karaoke session, clubbing, and innocent but fun debauchery before the night ends. Gomez’s voice sounds very pleasing when she doesn’t attempt to strain it in any way, and just lets it run smooth through the breezy production.
Last but not least, Ariana Grande released the Deluxe Edition of her debut album Yours Truly for its 10 year anniversary. It includes 7 new tracks, including two new versions of “The Way” featuring Mac Miller (a Live version and a Spanglish version.) Alongside the songs, she has also been releasing a series of live performance videos of several songs from the album, including “Tattooed Heart (Live From London),” “Honeymoon Avenue (Live From London),” “Daydreamin’ Live from London),” “Right There (live from london / 2023) ft. Big Sean,” “Baby I (Live From London),” and “The Way (Live From London).” This reimagining of some of her earliest songs coupled with the tone and style of her voice now pulls off a cool mirror trick, and is certainly in line with the refreshing and frequent recycling of existing IP in our current entertainment landscape. In addition to the deluxe album, she’s released a whole slate of merchandise including apparel and a special edition vinyl, and recently hosted two Q&A sessions.
This trifecta of projects comes at a time when people are yearning for the yester-years, feeling fulfilled and motivated by nostalgia because of the uncertain nature of things currently and still to come. They highlight a focus on youth from multiple perspectives: the feeling of being revitalized by it (“Single Soon”); the feeling of realizing you may have finally moved on from those days, feelings, and attitudes (“Used To Be Young”); and finding something new and unique to share from a set of treasured memories (Yours Truly (Tenth Anniversary Edition).)
If these songs don’t do anything else, they remind us of who we were at the times when we first heard Miley, Selena, and Ariana’s music; when we can pinpoint specific moments inside those memories that leave a pang in our current selves, perhaps because we fear we won’t encounter another feeling that.