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Track Review

Noah Cyrus skipped her Hannah Montana phase.

Oh, sure, technically Miley's 16-year-old little sis did make some background appearances on the Disney show that propelled her big sis to über-stardom. But Noah apparently felt no need whatsoever to spend her own time cultivating a similarly saccharine Mouse House career before wading into more angst-ridden, adult-focused, alt-pop material.

Instead, that's Noah's starting point for her entrée into the music world with her moody, melancholy debut single, "Make Me (Cry)."

Too Young to Cry So Much?

The song is essentially a duet between Noah and English producer and songwriter Labrinth. They deliver aching, echoed lines about a relationship that may not be over, but one certainly full of pain and disillusionment.

"I never needed you like I do right now," Cyrus sings.

"I never hated you like I do right now," Labrinth responds.

And that's the essence of things here: a love-hate relationship in which two people can't stand to be with each other … and can't stand being apart.

"'Cause all you ever do is make me … " they sing together, followed by a loud dripping noise. Later, they'll repeatedly add the song's titular word: "'Cause all you ever do is make me/Cry/Cry/Cry."

Elsewhere, verses vacillate between anguish and ardor. "Gave you up 'bout 21 times," she says. "Felt those lips tell me 21 lies," he responds. "You'll be the death of me," she sings. Then both: "Love, lovin' you could make Jesus cry."

Still, Cyrus can't quite quit the man who causes her so much pain: "When I hear you sayin' 'Darling'/Your kiss is like an antidote." And then the passion heats up: "Couldn't hear the thunder/But I heard your heart race/We're too busy making hurricanes, yeah." Lines later suggest staying and leaving, and it's not clear who's sleeping where: "So I see you in the morning/I can't watch you walk out."

16 going on 30

You might recall that I said at the outset that Noah Cyrus is 16. Listening to the song—and especially watching the video—you'd be forgiven for thinking this world-weary teen is decades older.

The video features both singers in different apartments, singing their lines while casting angsty glances at their respective sleeping partners in their (presumably shared) beds. Cyrus' partner is shirtless, and she's wearing a T-shirt and shorts, which definitely give the feel of sleepwear.

The message in the video is unmistakable: that it's perfectly normal for 16-year-olds to play the part of adults cohabitating. I'm assuming that Noah Cyrus isn't actually living with a guy and that she hasn't done so. But the video communicates that such an arrangement wouldn't be out of the question, that sleepovers and sex are just a regular part of the teen experience.

The sad irony here is that in the rush to act like married adults—with all the privileges of marriage but none of its commitment and protection—the character Noah sings about has opened herself up to the tearful, crippling heartache she and Labrinth describe throughout the song.

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Top 20 iTunes song.

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November 15, 2016

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Adam R. Holz

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