The Climb

I refer, of course, to the new Miley Cyrus song that is being released to sg. I caught on the local top 40 station on the way home from work the other day. And the short answer is that there’s nothing about the song to shake my initial reaction that it will go exactly nowhere on gospel radio (but then again, this assumes there was a point to releasing it to sg radio other than nestfeathering on the radio promoter’s part).

Lyrically it’s one of those sentimental-struggler songs so common among winsome young female pop stars, and Josh Groban. The singer is facing some indistinct but momentous challenge – growing up, setting off, launching forth, whatever – and doesn’t know if how she’s gonna be able to do it, but with perseverance, faith, hard work, believing, and commitment, she’ll get to the top of the mountain, soar like a bird, sail the high seas, or reach the stars.

But there’s struggling, and then there’s struggling. Kelly Clarkson proved how to break through by singing about breaking free in “Break Away.” Say what you will about pop music, that song really is lyrically brilliant when you think about it as a piece of meta-commentary on her attempt to break free from her AI image as the popular girls’ best friend in high school. Plus it’s a solid piece of pop music composition to boot.

Cyrus is obviously trying to accomplish something similar. But in addition to the problem that she can’t seem to decide if she wants to sex up her post-Hannah image with “accidentally” leaked soft-porn pics of herself, or capitalize on her tweeniness and become a wholesome teen role model, “The Climb” is a pretty ineffective vehicle for much more than a middle-school talent contest. It’s not so much bad as just forgettable. Thus the chorus:

There’s always going to be another mountain
I’m always going to want to make it move
Always going to be an uphill battle,
Sometimes I’m gonna to have to lose,
Ain’t about how fast I get there,
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb. Yeah!

Insert your own swelling strings and vertiginous intervals. “Yeah!”

I guess someone might mistake the vague striving imagery for metaphors about Christian living (if those people aren’t off listening to CCM), but I doubt it will spark a run on religion.

I’ve actually found Cyrus’s voice rather appealing on several of her radio cuts. But all I could think about listening to “The Climb” was how emotionally unconvincing it is to hear a 15-year-old sing about not caring how fast she gets where she’s going so long as she savors each moment of life to its fullest. Who knows if she means any of it, or has any clue what it means. Maybe in addition to being able to sing a lot and act a little, she’s existentially prescient (or maybe not … if I was her age and a worldwide star, I’d probably sing the menu from the local Chinese takeout place if that’s what I thought would keep the ride going). But in any case, hearing Cyrus sing “The Climb” creates the same effect as when grade-school children recite the Gettysburg Address con mucho gusto. Yeah!

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  1. Kyle wrote:

    I have to give Rick credit, though, he’s trying different material on the SG audience. Before Miley’s song, he released a single from Mike English’s latest CD, “Feels Like Redemption,” which I was surprised to hear (there are songs on the CD that I think probably would’ve been a better fit, i.e. “Time”). Probably won’t get a whole lot of airplay, but at least Hendrix is trying something new….which is more than a lot of groups and promoters are doing today.

  2. charles wrote:

    Kyle, I appreciate your positive spin, but Hendrix promotes those secular songs for free so he can use the artist photos to lasso unknown gospelites and invoice them for what he calls promotion.

  3. NonSGfan wrote:

    i’m trying to find the relevance to southern gospel critisism and commentary on this thready and i simply cant find it.

  4. ask me wrote:

    Whoa, charles, that’s astounding. So that’s why Hendrix can put Josh Turner’s picture (for example) as one of the artists he promotes in his advertisements?

    He can say, “Hey, I promote Miley Cyrus, wouldn’t you love to join with artists of her caliber??”

    You gotta give it to him, though, he produces #1 songs - Songs that aren’t even good go #1 if they’re a Hendrix song.

  5. charles wrote:

    Yep. That’s the M O. Brilliantly twisted.

    #1 songs that aren’t even good. That is another problem to discuss. . .

  6. Rick Hendrix wrote:

    My free assistant, asked me to take a FREE min of my time, to go to my free cell phone and type a free comment on this free web site about me doing FREE work LOL You trip me out man. Nice analogy-I am just sorry to inform you….here are the facts…. I Rick Hendrix and DBA Rick Hendrix Company LLC are the ONLY licensed RIAA and FCC record promoters in ALL of Christian music….What this means is—your theory is not only wrong about my agency–it is illegal for a MAJOR label or artist to hire me for free. Not only is it illegal for me to call on an artist to radio without compensation-it is illegal for the label to use licensed promoters at no charge. I have adhered to these practices in my Southern Gospel side as well…I have exclusive promotions agreements with my SG artist to prevent other record promoters from trying to use my artist names to lobby for work on comp CDs…. So, your theory is true for some promoters and agencies… But, you might wanna get new friends and informants and chase after these smaller companies…because where I am sitting–I think its not only a rip off to do the practice you speak of its a TOTAL injustice to the promoters that fight for our numbers and airplay presence..its robbing the artist to mislead and defraud them of their money by claiming associations…..Not being mean –but you should go after companies that are doing this…not me…And you WILL NOT find a Rick Hendrix artist…..Bill Gaither, Gaither Vocal Band, Ernie Haase and SS, Jason Crabb, Isaac’s, Mike and Kelly Bowling, Michael English, Oak Ridge Boys, Crossway etc……on ANY other companies disc….We just don’t do that…So, pick another fight….The folks posting on here might lay down and die for nothing to work with the artist I have the blessing to work with…But, look at my bio…I dont need them anymore than they need me….

    Rick Hendrix

  7. Charles Brady wrote:

    There is a very reason that Rick Hendrix works with the artists he works with. He works. His team works. And in this industry finding people who actually get off their tails and DO something is a real rare find. There are plenty of armchair quarterbacks giving their assumptions about what they think is true. Problem is about 90% just don’t have a clue.

    Rick is innovative and the guy works and he’s not afraid to try something new. Things that seem foreign to many in this industry.

  8. charles wrote:

    Ummm… touched a nerve! I wouldn’t think the only RIAA / FCC licensed promoter would have time to even think about typing on this page. So what is Miley paying these days?

  9. Terry wrote:

    I find it amusing how people keep kicking the Hendrix brand. Maybe hes just nuts enough to keep doing this.I would have quit. But, more power to him.

  10. Ron F wrote:

    I always look forward to receiving Rick Hendrix disc because I know that there will be some quality music on it. Did you all know Rick is a great song writer as well?

  11. Norm Graham wrote:

    It’s very difficult these days to have success in the world of Southern Gospel Music, a field of music basically ignored by most of the music industry.

    Thus when folks have some success in promoting the music beit Gaither at the highest level or folks like Hendrix or Waller and others why are some people so eager to take shots at them? Do they want the SGM industry to completely disappear? That’s what will happen if no one in SGM succeeds.

  12. charles wrote:

    Hold on now fellows. I would never put the a Southern Gospel Radio promoter in the same sentence with Gaither or Waller. Concert promoters are one animal. Radio promoters, especially Southern Gospel ones - now we all know that’s a bird of a different color.

    Let’s just be real for a minute. It is all just business. And, I am sure it makes someone enough money to possibly run for public office someday. Do you think Miley Cyrus pays month to month for Southern Gospel radio promo like the local groups and hometown soloists that are contracted? Do you really believe that Aretha Franklin or Jennifer Hudson use the same contract requiring x amount to be on a disc and x amount for promotion and x amount for “tracking”
    - - - to quote the title from a country song and a gospel song from two different clients that were name dropped in comment #6 - Dream On!

    Nobody said it wasn’t brilliant to use the likenesses of big stars to impress those who want to be. Why the big stink?

  13. GH wrote:

    Ive been to his myspace and seen pics of his house. I just cant believe that Southern Gospel is making him that living. So he must be getting paid to do what he does. Im sure the secular clients dont pay the same as SG I would think they would pay more because they should have larger budgets.

  14. Terry wrote:

    U sound like another promoter or a vindictive client. I know very little about the inner workings of a music company-But I am sure a Gaither song is charged on a different scale than an Aretha project. You really make very little sense. Maybe you wish you could be close enough to success to even be able to name drop–I am sure the people you know couldnt even drop an extra fry in my happy meal

  15. CVH wrote:

    The thread has drifted into a referendum on Rick Hendrix which doesn’t interest me. He’s probably worse than a few and better than most but, whatever…

    Doug’s point on “The Climb” is well taken. I’ve listened through it several times and saw her do it live and my biggest impression is the utter lack of passion with which she sings it. Granted, she’s only 15 and still developing as a vocalist, but she won’t have a lot of time or many opportunities to reposition herself artistically as she goes through her mid and late teen years. So was this a quasi-crossover attempt? A bit of Celine Dion mimicry?

    It’s all bidness so whatever her “people’s”
    motivation for cutting the tune was, her hardcore fans will probably embrace it and the rest of us will just sit back and yawn. I think what she does career-wise in the next 2-3 years will be more telling than this overreaching, transitional piece. I may be way off but barring lightning being captured in a bottle, I’m not convinced her personal trajectory is going to continue to rise regardless of all the ‘noise’ that surrounds her, her family and her career to this point.


  16. ask me wrote:

    So Rick personally signed a contract with Miley Cyrus…yeah right.

  17. Charles Brady wrote:

    I’m thinking he is promoting her upcoming Hannah Montana movie to be released in April and the contract was probably signed with that little company called Disney….

    Since I have had paid promotional deals promoting for George Foreman & Ruben Studdard, Sony Music, The Homecoming Magazine and the BBC it is not at all hard to think that someone in Rick’s league could land a promo deal with Disney….

    I don’t know about Rick but for my part I don’t care who signs the paperwork as long as the check clears! I especially enjoyed spending those Salem Communication Dollars!! LOL!!!

    Bidness is Bidness…you know..

  18. wackythinker wrote:

    Some have questioned here why folks are involved in bashing Rick Hendrix. I can tell you: it’s the same reason folks spend so much time and energy here (and elsewhere) bashing Bill Gaither.

    Pick up the old self-help book “I’m Ok, You’re Ok,” and you’ll figure it out REAL quick. Too many people feel “not ok” about themselves, and choose to find people who they perceive as being “too ok,” and bring them down. That seems to make them feel better about themselves.

    Why not take the other approach, and find someone who is less ok than yourself, and build them up? You’ll get the same “more ok-ness” about yourself, and do the rest of the world a lot more good.

    I know, that’s just TOO wacky!

  19. charles wrote:

    Talk about wacky, I am getting in line for my Hendrix Homecoming Tour tickets. Featuring . . . Miley Cyrus, Jericho, Garth Brooks, Adam’s Voice, Jennifer Hudson, The Bethels, Aretha Franklin, Master’s Voice (not to be confused with Adam’s), George Strait, The Oxendines, Mariah Carey (who is Mr. Hendrix’ spiritual advisor, according to his page), Blake Bolerjack, Gaither Vocal Band and everybody else! Bound to be a great show!

  20. Charles Brady wrote:

    wackythinker that’s about the smartest thing I’ve seen posted here in a while!

  21. Ron wrote:

    I’m surprised you’re wasting your time with a song directed toward 8-12 year-olds, particularly that you’d apply your much more mature and advanced perspective. My 9 year old daughter would be inspired and motivated by this ‘unconvincing’ effort. So, it’s easy to slam this music as a failure because it’s not designed for anyone over the age of 12. My 13 year old daughters won’t listen to it. Perhaps a better song to analyze would be something from someone like Emmy Lou Harris or any new efforts (if there are some) from an Amy Grant or Leann Rimes.

  22. Terry wrote:

    Thats stupid–So are you saying Bill Gaither only inspires 73 year olds??? Mileys song “Climb” could touch me and I am 26…. thats stupid to say Mileys song only relate to kids…..

  23. pk wrote:

    There is a Miley Cyrus video for this song that I saw on GMC channel during the block that has CCM music videos on. Shrugs, song didn’t work for me, but I can see a lot of tweenies and younger getting into it.

  24. SASSY wrote:


  25. Hailey wrote:

    First off, this is such a negative article. Why waste your time and I wonder why I am wasting my own right now. You say that it is unconvincing to hear a 15 year old sing that she doesn’t care how long it takes her to get where she is going, well Miley isn’t a regular high schooler. She is a millionaire who has her own show and before that grew up with a famous father. Second, you say anything negative about Rick Hendrix again and I promise you will regret it. He has many followers and has spread a lot of good in this world that you are so quick to put negativity in.

  26. AT wrote:

    THUMBS up Hailey

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