The many stages of learning to like “Don’t Call Me Angel”

Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande and Lana Del Rey unite for the 'Don't Call Me Angels' music video (Photo via YouTube.)

Great things come when powerful female artists collaborate, especially in threes. Must I remind you of 2014’s galaxy-shattering, pop-dominating anthem, “Bang Bang,” featuring Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj?

So you can imagine how close my brain was to melting when I heard that Ariana was collaborating with Miley Cyrus and Lana Del Rey on a song for the new adaptation of Charlie’s Angels. The anticipation had me writhing in misery for what felt like eons — but was actually just a few months. 

Ariana, the reigning queen of pop, Miley, the ever-chameleonic queen, and Lana, empress of all sad girls, immediately seemed like an unpredictable, yet delectable combination for a pop trio. 

I stayed up late on Thursday for the midnight premiere with the YouTube countdown and all the meshugas. And upon first viewing, I was not impressed. I’ve seen better work from all three of them: “Thank u, next”? “Mother’s Daughter”? “Doin’ Time”? Please. These women have had too iconic a 2019 to flub their collaboration.

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The beat goes hard, but the repetition across the whole song gets old quick. The writing sometimes feels a tad lazy, with awkward pauses between lines in all three of their verses. 

And yet, I kept listening. The song, much like a rash, grows on you.

With each listen, you hear new things. Oh hey, Ariana’s whistle tones! 

Ariana’s chorus carries the song, making it, effectively, an Ariana song featuring Miley and Lana — but I can’t imagine anyone being too upset about that. 

Out of the individual verses, Miley’s is by far the strongest. She starts the song off with fire and grit, with enough energy to almost scare you. The verse is reminiscent of the chaos of the Bangerz era. 

Ariana’s verse isn’t necessarily bad, but she’s done so much better in the past. Her slow-talking almost fades into the beat, and her lyrics don’t wow you. Her one line, “Don’t you know that I bite when the sun set?” is the closest you’ll get to a zinger from Ms. Grande.

In regards to Ms. Del Rey, I’ll admit, I have a deep appreciation for her and her dedication to her art. However, I’ll be frank: she had no reason to be on this song. 

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Her verse comes after a sudden, sharp transition from the quick-paced chorus to a brief, snail-slow snippet from her. It feels out of place next to the back-and-forth of Miley and Ariana showing off their strong vocals and sassy attitudes. Some lyrics from her verse — including, “I drop it down, I pick it up, I back it off the county line” — make it seem like the wrong verse got included in the final product. 

However, despite this song’s flaws, I have no choice but to stan unequivocally. The mere significance of three of today’s biggest stars coming together on one song is crazy enough. And while the song is no masterpiece, it will undoubtedly be stuck in your head for quadruple the amount of time you spend listening to it.

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