Noah Cyrus released her second EP on May 15, 2020 titled THE END OF EVERYTHING. Most of the songs on THE END OF EVERYTHING have a strong presence of piano and guitar, leaving the listener with a delicate base in which Cyrus uses her lyrics to move you. The sounds that Noah Cyrus uses are very unique when combined with her delicate voice and powerful lyrics.
Many have heard of Noah Cyrus because of her family and background. Her father, Billy Ray Cyrus, is a famous country artist, and her sister, Miley Cyrus, has been a fixture of popular culture since her debut as Hannah Montana. Her roots in Nashville and growing up surrounded by talented musicians can be seen through her immaculate technique of hitting notes and carrying her voice in a mature way for a 20-year-old. The raw emotion that I feel when I listen to her voice gave me goosebumps the first time I heard “July” and “Lonely.” The visuals in the music videos show her connection to Nashville depicted by farmland, in “July,” or wandering around a pond, a forest, and a field with a white horse in “I Got So High That I Saw Jesus.” Cyrus choosing the location of the music videos as farmland is symbolic and connects to the EP’s message as it shows that no matter how far you go, or the relationships you may lose, your home and family are there to support you.
Cyrus’s first EP was released in 2018 and titled Good Cry. Good Cry differs from THE END OF EVERYTHING in that the vocals have a faster tempo and more of a drum presence. Cyrus’s true talent is seen on “Topanga” which is recorded on a voice memo app accompanied solely by a guitar. The combination of her upbringing and her own personal experiences gives Cyrus a lot of material to write songs that provoke real emotions from her listeners.
The song “July” describes her feelings about a toxic relationship with her ex-boyfriend. However, one of my favorite things about Noah Cyrus’ lyrics is that she does not only sing about relationships. And if she does, like in “July,” she does so in an unconventional way that showcases her true feelings and does not romanticize every relationship. Her vulnerability with her lyrics is something to be admired. Many artists don’t sing about their own faults, but Noah Cyrus does, for example, in “Liar” when she says “You asked a question and I lied / I think about it all the time” and “When you look at me / I will always be a liar.” Admitting that she also has a negative impact on a relationship on a public album takes courage on Cyrus’s part. In other songs from the EP, Cyrus sings about topics such as fear of death, loneliness, and depression.
The sounds that I have noticed the most on THE END OF EVERYTHING are a piano and a guitar. Usually in songs, the first thing noticed is the drum beat, but Cyrus makes the conscious decision to have her songs begin with either a piano or a guitar and then the drum or other instruments come in later. In “I Got So High That I Saw Jesus,” the drum arrives in the middle of the song. In the music video, it is clear at the exact moment it begins: the lyrics are, “He said ‘It’s all going to be okay, You just need me in your heart.’” Cyrus combines this with the visual of hitting her chest right above her heart which shows her intention of placing the drum in that place. If you had told me that an EP focused on piano and guitar sounds, I probably would have said that the music genre would be indie music. However, that is not the case with this EP. Noah Cyrus’s music is usually placed in the genres of pop music or country music, which is consistent with this EP. Cyrus is making her unique mark on pop and country music by combining the two, and by doing so, she brings together two different sets of music fans who can come together and enjoy the same music.
Lyrics are the most important part of any album. The beat can be great, but if it is the same ten lyrics over and over again, it is boring. In my favorite song from the album, “July,” the lyrics that give me chills every time I hear them are “You know I, I’m afraid of change / Guess that’s why we stay the same” and “‘Cause you remind me every day I’m not enough, but I still stay.” These lyrics alone don’t sound like they could give you chills, but Noah Cyrus’s voice is so soft in these lines that you can feel the raw pain and emotion she feels when describing this toxic relationship. In the first lyric, she does runs on “I” and “why” that are incredibly skillful. These lyrics keep to the theme of the EP as she connects her toxic relationship to her own personal struggles in a vulnerable way.
In the title song for the album, “The End of Everything,” the most powerful lyrics that are similar to other songs are “Everyone you love is gonna die / But, darlin’ so is everything, don’t cry” and “Everything you fear is gonna end / All your hurt and hate lost to the wind.” While singing about fears and depression in the first half of the lyric, Cyrus also manages to use the other half to justify it by putting it into perspective in the context of the world. The music video for this song is unique because she is not in it. Instead, the video goes over nine trillion years into the future and on the bottom of the screen it shows what the next big explosion or death of stars, suns, and planets are going to be with the years. Thus, the message of most of the songs on the EP are the same: things will get better.
Ann Cvetkovich has written a book titled Depression, which contains the idea of “political depression.” This idea is about having a national mood during a crisis. It is safe to say throughout the quarantine, the mood was depression. The theme of Noah Cyrus’s EP is also depression. During the quarantine, people were becoming depressed from staying inside for three months, listening to the news, and having family members die. When the EP came out, it could be seen as a break from the pain of the quarantine, but the lyrics and beat were also depressing. It shows that in a depressing political and social climate, the music that is released reflects it.
The Cyrus family is known for pushing cultural standards and being their own people, no matter how much mainstream media loves to tear them down. Noah is no exception. Even though some of the songs on the EP had been released as singles many months before COVID-19, I think they can still be related to what is going on in the world right now. Mental health and toxic relationships have been a source of pain for many both before and during the quarantine, and they will still be a problem after the quarantine. Listening to Cyrus’s album could help them share the pain by connecting their feelings to Noah’s. Even though Noah’s songs aren’t played on mainstream radio, they have still reached millions because of the crossing of genre lines. THE END OF EVERYTHING by Noah Cyrus pushes boundaries by talking about taboo topics and her combination of pop, country, indie, and folk music to create songs that give listeners chills.